Holiday lights, cards and wrapping paper could be recycled

Americans create a lot of trash between Thanksgiving and Christmas
The late evening news on KEVN Black Hills Fox Monday-Friday
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 7:07 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - From holiday cards to the eccentric decorations many Americans put up for the holidays, it is common for us to throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, according to Stanford University.

One of the more common decorations is string lights, but what to do with them when they don’t seem to work anymore? Well, Rapid City has a solution.

“By recycling Christmas lights we are diverting potentially two to three tons of material going up into the landfill,” said Rapid City Solid Waste Division Education and Outreach Coordinator Ria Hannon.

Rapid City brought back a program that helps the community dispose of their unwanted holiday lights while also helping the Rapid City Solid Waste Division prevent any unnecessary ‘tanglers’ in the recycling line.

“They’re long and stringy so when they go through our lines they really wrap around our augers and that traps in bags and everything else that it can catch,” said Hannon, “It kind of just snowballs and it actually creates this huge blockage for us which we have to then stop all of our machines.”

The bins aren’t just for Christmas lights. Lights from other holidays can be dropped off in these bins as well.

“Last year, when I was collecting lights, I saw Valentine’s Day lights and Halloween lights. You know, it doesn’t have to be just Christmas, any long strand of lights that you’ve got, bring them in,” said Hannon.

When it comes to other holiday decorations, Hannon says it is better to save them for next year or donate them.

“So, we have a huge stress around that, you want to reduce, reuse, recycle, and then also repurpose,” said Hannon, “If it has still some life left donate it to give it some more life before you throw it away.”

The bins are located at 17 different locations around town and will remain up until January 31.

Christmas light recycling is one of the biggest events of the year for the Rapid City Solid...
Christmas light recycling is one of the biggest events of the year for the Rapid City Solid Waste Division.(Rapid City Solid Waste Division)