Today’s the big day.
Starting at 10 a.m. local time in Oregon and ending at 3 p.m. Eastern time in South Carolina, a total solar eclipse will make its way across the United States, the moon blocking out the sun for a short period of time and grabbing the attention of those below on Earth, according to The New York Times.
To celebrate, Americans are throwing solar eclipse watching parties, traveling to states in the path of totality and — most importantly — getting their hands on a pair of protective solar eclipse glasses to ensure a safe viewing experience for the hyped-up event.
Never miss a local story.
But what should you do with those sun-gazing glasses once the eclipse has come and gone, especially considering the next total solar eclipse in North America won’t be until April 2024?
Here are some ways you can repurpose or dispose of the protective eye gear.
Around 7,000 libraries handed out more than 2 million paper solar eclipse glasses that were provided by the Space Science Institute/National Center for Interactive Learning in preparation for today’s eclipse, according to the Press & News.
That means a lot of recyclable material will be out of use starting Tuesday.
So help the environment and chuck your paper-based glasses into a recycling bin — but just make sure to remove the solar-filter lenses before you do so, Patrick Morgan, a recycling specialist for Oregon Metro in Portland, said to Earth911.
You should be able to recycle your paper glasses as long as they don’t contain a moisture-resistant coating, he added. The filters might also be recyclable as well — check with a local camera store that processes film to see if they can recycle solar-filter lenses.
Don’t try to recycle plastic frames.
But what should you do if you can’t recycle your glasses — or you just don’t want to part with them?
First, see if they are reusable. There should be instructions on the glasses or with the packaging that clarify if they can be worn again and for how long they last. Just be sure to check that the solar-filter isn’t punctured, scratched or damaged in anyway.
They might just work until the next total solar eclipse in 2024 – but leading manufacturers warn they usually expire after 3 years, according to Staten Island Live.
Make a souvenir
It’s pretty simple: save the glasses and show them off somewhere.
Brooks Mitchell, the education coordinator for the nonprofit Space Science Institute, told Earth911 he will hang the glasses on a bulletin board “to remind myself of the awesome celestial experience.”
Make a donation
You could give the glasses to someone else in need of them.
Astronomers Without Borders is asking for donations of solar eclipse glasses to help distribute to schools in South America and Asia for upcoming eclipses in 2019. You can find information on where to donate your glasses on the group’s Facebook page.
Irene Pease, a board member of Amateur Astronomers Association of New York, also suggested asking local school officials and recreational programs if they could make use of the glasses for astronomy activities.
Make a fashion statement
When all else fails, get creative — Pease told Earth911 that’s what she plans to do.
“I wouldn’t mind a pair of eclipse-filter earrings,” Pease said, “as an astro-fashion statement.”