Updated: 12/27/2013 7:18 PM
Created: 12/27/2013 7:15 PM KAALtv.com
By: John Doetkott
(ABC 6 News) -- Now that Christmas is over, people are finding their homes filled with lights, wrapping paper, boxes, and Christmas trees that they no longer want around the house.
And now some local officials are working to make sure all your unwanted holiday items end up in the right place.
With thousands of people looking to ditch their dried up Christmas trees, some are saying forget chopping them up for fire wood, recycle them.
The Olmsted County Recycling Center Plus will be accepting trees free of charge until March, and officials say they'll be put to good use.
"Typically, we usually get 3,000-4,000 Christmas trees a year,” said Sharon Schrieber, regional programs director for the recycling center. “They get mulched up in the Spring and then that is available for use in parks and things like that."
But it's not just the trees, but what was underneath them.
"Lots of cardboard boxes, things like that, lots of wrapping paper,” Schrieber said. “Wrapping paper cannot be recycled, but we do accept it here, so that's part of the garbage that goes to the waste energy facility and then we'll turn it into energy for the buildings in Rochester.”
In Austin however, it's all about the lights.
"Why put them in the landfill when you can take them and recycle them?" said Dave Thompson, who is leading the holiday light recycling program at Austin Utilities.
So far, the department has collected boxes upon boxes of unwanted lights as more and more people switch to the more efficient LED lights.
"Energy saving wise, they use about a tenth of the energy of an incandescent light bulb,” Thompson said. “The savings there is huge."
But it isn't just about going green, as the recycled lights will help create jobs for those in need.
"It provides work for over 200 disabled people. They take every part of the strand of lights and they recycle each part of that,” Thompson said. “It’s a really great program and we’re glad to be a drop-off site for that.”
To find out where you can recycle your unwanted holiday lights, click the following link for a list of drop-off locations: http://www.cleanenergyresourceteams.org/campaigns/ryh-13-14