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Nature

Good Natured: What to do with those old holiday lights

The lobby of the city of St. Charles Public Works Department is one of several locations local residents can deposit their unwanted holiday lights and extension cords. Elgin Recycling will remove the copper and plastic, and donate the net proceeds from the resale to America In Bloom – St. Charles.
The lobby of the city of St. Charles Public Works Department is one of several locations local residents can deposit their unwanted holiday lights and extension cords. Elgin Recycling will remove the copper and plastic, and donate the net proceeds from the resale to America In Bloom – St. Charles.

It’s about this time of year that the holiday lights, put up with enthusiasm just a few short weeks ago, begin to lose some of their pizazz.

Maybe it’s the thought of taking them down, packing them back into their boxes or bags and then, despite extreme care, still managing to break some of those fragile bulbs or wires. Or maybe it’s because those bulbs and wires have reached the end of their useful life, blinking out for the very last time.

If you’re finding yourself left with strands of lights that don’t work, don’t despair. And even more important, don’t put them in the trash. They contain a considerable amount of copper and plastic that can be recycled.

Better still, those no-longer-twinkling lights can be used to help out a good cause – America In Bloom – St. Charles.

In case you’re not familiar with this group, let me fill you in. America in Bloom promotes nationwide beautification through education and community involvement by encouraging the use of plants and other environmental and lifestyle enhancements.

Name aside, the national America in Bloom program is about more than flowers. It focuses on ways to improve communities in several distinct areas: floral displays, landscaped areas, urban forestry, environmental efforts and heritage preservation.

Locally, America in Bloom – St. Charles seeks to continually increase involvement among residents, community organizations and businesses. The committee, of which I’m a member, aims to promote the culture of cooperation and involvement that exists in St. Charles, encouraging everyone to work together toward the common goal of improving our city.

To help defray some of the cost of these improvements, as well as reduce the amount of lights that end up in landfills, America in Bloom – St. Charles, Elgin Recycling and the city of St. Charles have teamed up to offer a holiday lights recycling program. St. Charles residents and businesses are welcome to drop off holiday lights (working or nonworking) and electrical cords at convenient locations around town. Elgin Recycling will haul them away at no cost.

Items accepted for recycling include traditional holiday lights, LED holiday lights, Italian mini holiday lights, rope lights and extension cords.

Items not accepted are holiday light strings attached to garland, live greens, wreaths, Christmas trees, lawn decorations/ornaments or other nonrecyclables, any of which would contaminate the process.

Drop-off locations

Collection bins are located inside the buildings listed below. Items dropped off are to be placed only in designated bins. If a facility is closed, please do not leave items anywhere outside the building.

• Blue Goose Market, 300 S. Second St., St. Charles; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

• St. Charles Public Works, 1405 S. Seventh Ave., St. Charles; 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Deposit lights inside the street-level lobby; there is no drop off when the gates are closed.

• St. Charles Public Library, 1 S. Sixth Ave., St. Charles; drop off starts Jan. 2 and will be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

• St. Charles History Museum, 215 E. Main St., St. Charles; from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (note: the museum will be closed to the public starting Jan. 9 and reopening Feb. 2).

For information, call city of St. Charles Public Works Department at 630-377-4405 or email alwaysrecycle@yahoo.com. Elgin Recycling is providing the bins and will donate all net proceeds from recycling the items to the America in Bloom – St. Charles effort.

Pam Otto is the manager of nature programs and interpretive services at the Hickory Knolls Discovery Center, a facility of the St. Charles Park District. She can be reached at 630-513-4346 or potto@stcparks.org. Feedback on this column can be sent to editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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