What should you do with your used eclipse glasses? National Park rangers wear their eclipse glasses for the big show. (National Park Service/Aubrey Gemignani/NASA)
What should you do with your used eclipse glasses?
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Millions of people ogled the skies. They used eclipse viewers. They avidly watched as the moon blotted out the sun. But now all that celestial majesty has passed. So, what should you do with your eclipse glasses?

It's tempting to save them until the next solar eclipse. That is in 2024. It will cross eastern Canada. It will cross the central U.S. And it will cross part of Mexico. 

But you must first check with the company to see if the glasses will last. As Cassy Sommer at Staten Island Live reports, some lenses expire after three years. If the glasses are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standards they should be reusable forever. That is according to NASA. Just make sure you keep them in a safe spot. Seven years in a junk drawer will likely lead to scratches. This can make the glasses unsafe to wear.

Perhaps the most useful thing you can do with your glasses is to donate them to Astronomers Without Borders. The organization will soon announce a program to collect the used glasses. They will pass them out to schools in South America and parts of Asia. Those places will see their own solar eclipses in 2019.

The organization will not collect the glasses themselves. Instead, they are partnering with corporate sponsors. They will set up drop-off sites. 

The organization hosted a similar program in 2013. It collected donations to send eclipse glasses to west and central Africa. That was for a total eclipse that passed over the continent. They supplied 13,700 glasses to schools in eight countries. 

The AWB hopes the eclipse enthusiasm will help inspire more students to pursue fields in science, technology and mathematics. “Once they look up, we don't want them to stop.” That's according to AWB education director Lindsay Bartolone.

In the United States, AWB is sending professional and amateur astronomers into the community. They seek to help teachers conduct sun-based lessons and experiments.

Local schools may also be interested in your used eclipse glasses. They could use them for astronomy activities or experiments. That's according to  Patti Roth. She is with Earth911. You should ask local schools if they have any interest before you toss or recycle the glasses. So said Irene Pease. She is a board member of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. 

It’s also OK to pull the solar-filter lenses out of the glasses and recycle the paper or cardboard frames. That's according to Josh Magness. He is with the Miami Herald. Specialty recyclers like camera stores might even accept the solar filters for recycling. Glasses with plastic frames are likely not recyclable.

Or you can use the lenses as parts of arts and crafts projects. “I wouldn’t mind a pair of eclipse-filter earrings,” Pease tells Roth. She would wear them “as an astro-fashion statement.”

Finally, keeping the glasses as a souvenir is always an option. That's according to Brooks Mitchell. He is education coordinator. He works for the nonprofit Space Science Institute. It is in Boulder, Colo. Mitchell is planning to keep the glasses to remind himself “of the awesome celestial experience.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What will you do with your used eclipse glasses?
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