DEP and Safeway want you to “Lighten Your Load”

July 17, 2018

During the Summer of 2018, the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Safeway stores partnered to help save shoppers energy and money on their lighting with “Lighten Your Load” events. Through the summer, we collected 2,887 bulbs and recycled them properly.

On select days at Safeway locations, shoppers were encourgaged to bring old incandescent and/or compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs and receive up to three free LED light bulbs and a new, reusable shopping bag. These “Lighten Your Load” events are a way to save on electric bills and ensure that plastics and dangerous substances, like mercury, do not enter the waste stream.

They could swap old incandescent and/or CFL bulbs for energy-efficient LEDs on Mondays this summer from 4 to 6 p.m. at the following Safeway locations. Look for DEP staff in front of each store:

  • July 23: Germantown Safeway at 19718 Germantown Road, Germantown, 20874
  • July 30: Rockville Safeway at 5510 Norbeck Road, Rockville, 20853
  • August 6: Wheaton Safeway at 11201 Georgia Ave, Wheaton, 20902
  • August 13: Damascus Safeway at 9807 Main Street, Damascus, 20872
  • August 20: Olney Safeway at 3333 Spartan Road, Olney, 20832

Participants can bring as many bulbs as they have available, but during the swap, each family is limited to receiving 3 free LEDs. All bulbs collected during the swap will be properly recycled or disposed.

At the kick-off event on Monday, July 16, almost 100 LEDs and 180 bags were distributed to the public.

“We’re giving away replacement LEDs, because it’s a small change that makes a big impact for residents’ utility bills and the environment,” said Patty Bubar, acting director of the Montgomery County DEP. “About 80 percent of households still use incandescent bulbs, and the summer months also have some of the highest electricity bills. It’s the perfect time to make the switch.”

The ENERGY STAR®-certified LEDs offer a warm white light that’s equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent bulb. LED bulbs are more energy efficient, have a longer life span, non-toxic and greener than other alternatives, flexible in color and design, and by switching three bulbs, you could cut your utility bill by at least $25 per year.

“We take our commitment to energy efficiency and reducing waste seriously,” said Darcie Renn, director of sustainability at Safeway. “By partnering with Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, our customers have the opportunity to save energy and lower their utility bills while also reducing waste that goes to the landfill.”

At each “Lighten the Load” event, reusable shopping bags will be distributed to shoppers. Plastic bags are a significant source of litter in our community and pollute our neighborhoods, streams, and playgrounds.

“Lighten the Load” events are part of the Department of Environmental Protection’s efforts to educate residents and businesses about simple actions we can all take to save energy and money.

For more information, visit or contact Larissa Johnson by email or by telephone at 202-281-7173

6 comments on "DEP and Safeway want you to “Lighten Your Load”"

  1. citizen says:

    What about Safeways on Thayer Avenue [downtown Silver Spring] or University Blvd [4 corners]?

  2. jjones says:

    We actually just hosted the event on Thayer Avenue! It was this past Monday and was a success. In the future, we may return to that location, but for now, the only scheduled events are listed above.

  3. CaroleF says:

    I hadn’t heard about this, and none of the 5 Safeways is in my neighborhood. Will you extend the program? Will you be doing anything special at the MC Agricultural Fair?

    1. jjones says:

      Sorry to hear we will not be at a Safeway near you. While this program will end on August 20th, we will be hosting a similar swap in October titled Books & Bulbs. The Books and Bulbs event will be at six libraries across the County. Visit for those dates and locations.

  4. Jorge says:

    What happens to the returned bulbs if they’re working? Are they reused somewhere, or are all bulbs recycled whether or not they still work?

    1. jjones says:

      All bulbs that are brought in for the exchange are recycled. Incandescent light bulbs are the equivalent of burning money at this point so even if they are working, we encourage people to exchange them for LEDs and then we recycle them.

      CFLs are still pretty energy efficient so we encourage people to use them until they burn out and then recycle them because they contain mercury by bringing them to one of these locations:

      If you bring a working bulb to one of our swap events, we do not differentiate it from non-working bulbs, and all are recycled.

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