Conservation Minnesota

Lights-Free Landfills, Please

In dealing with the post-holiday clean-up and getting our lives back in order, many of us are now wondering what to do with our broken or unwanted holiday lights. If you have read my previous blogs, you may remember my mother’s quest to attempt my various environmentally-friendly ideas and how one effort resulted in maggots on her garage floor. So you can imagine her skepticism and irritation when I asked what her plan was for ensuring our family’s fake, pre-lit Christmas tree did not end up in a landfill when she tossed it out – and you can imagine my amusement when she brought out the wire clippers to step up to the task! Both my mom and my sister spent a few hours painstakingly snipping the lights off each individual branch of the tree so that the branches could be donated and the lights could be recycled. I’m so proud of them! I would have helped, but I was busy serving as Quality Control Analyst for cookie dough.

Post wire-snipping, however, my mom was very well supported in her noble recycling efforts – and joined by many other Minnesotans. The Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM) has reported that in 2014, their association alone collected and recycled more than 104,000 pounds of holiday lights. RAM also reports they have collected 672,934 pounds of holiday lights in total from 2009 to 2015. And I know personally that the city of White Bear Lake collected and recycled over 900 pounds of holiday lights and extension cords in the 2016-17 holiday season alone.

These high recycling numbers are due in part to Minnesota’s robust set of seasonal and year-round recycling locations. We are lucky to have active county recycling programs, and we receive guidance and resources from groups like RAM, which offers a statewide list of locations that accept holiday lights, as well as Rethink Recycling, which provides links to metro county information on lights recycling.

I’m looking ahead at recycling my very small string of lights from my miniature Christmas tree, and two East Metro cities that offer holiday lights recycling are:

Three drop-off sites accepting lights through January 31st:
Maplewood City Hall, 1830 County Road B East
Maplewood Public Works, 1902 County Road B East (Upper Level)
YMCA, 2100 White Bear Ave (Lower Level – East Entrance)

White Bear Lake:
Two drop-off sites accepting lights through January 31st:
White Bear Lake City Hall, 4701 US Highway 61 N
White Bear Lake Sports Center, 1328 Hwy 96 E

There are locations in Greater Minnesota as well, many of which are listed in RAM’s list, but here are a few:

Families go to varying lengths to ensure their holiday decorations are disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner. If you’re still wondering what to do with your lights and extension cords, keep in mind that there is a supportive network of many Minnesota city and county drop-off locations that can help you recycle!

About Julie Drennen

Julie Drennen

When it comes to East Metro Regional Managers, Julie is easily our finest. Sure, there may be lack of competition for the role as she is the only east regional manager, but we are lucky to have her all the same. While she was born in Ohio, Julie grew up in Lino Lakes, Minnesota. She earned a Political Science degree from the University of Minnesota Morris.

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