Not sure what to do with your live tree and old or broken light strings post-holidays? There are many opportunities to recycle these items in Cook County. Make your holiday season a little more sustainable this year by keeping holiday waste out of the landfill.

Drop-off sites open to all Cook County residents:

Make sure to call ahead to any drop off site to confirm that they are accepting the item you are looking to recycle this year.

Trees

Drop off your holiday tree at these locations to be composted or mulched. Consider bringing a friend or neighbor’s tree along while you are at it.

Chicago Parks:

This annual program runs from Jan. 9th, 2021 – Jan. 23rd, 2021 this year. Only live/natural trees are accepted (no garlands or wreaths). These trees are going to be mulched, so they should be completely free of all decorations and removed from any bags or packaging.

This year, a whopping 25 parks are participating! And 6 will provide free mulch on a first come, first served basis starting Jan. 12. For a list of the participating parks, visit the Recycle by City website.

Homewood-Flossmoor & Olympia Fields Parks:

This annual program runs from Dec. 26th, 2020 – Jan. 19th, 2021 this season. Only live/natural trees are accepted (no garlands or wreaths). These trees are going to be mulched, so they should be completely free of all decorations and removed from any bags or packaging. Additionally, trees should be placed on the pile with the trunks facing Vollmer Road.

  • Trees can be dropped off anytime at: Irons Oaks Vollmer Road parking lot, 2453 Vollmer Road

For more information, visit the Homewood-Flossmoor tree recycling website.

Alternatively, try the Earth911 Recycle Search. This resource will help you locate drop off locations for a wide range of hard-to-recycle items. Just enter your zip code and “Christmas tree” as the item you are looking to recycle.

Lights

There are several locations where broken or unwanted holiday light strands can be dropped off for recycling. Many are open year-round, not just during the holiday season.

Homewood-Flossmoor & Olympia Fields Parks:

Holiday Lights may be dropped off anytime (during business hours) now through Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at any of the following locations:

  • HF Racquet Club, 2920 183rd Street, Homewood, IL,
  • Irons Oaks, 20000 Western Avenue, Olympia Fields, IL
  • Goldberg Center, 3301 Flossmoor Road, Flossmoor, IL

For more information, visit the Homewood-Flossmoor light recycling website.

Many hardware stores also accept holiday lights for recycling. Give your nearest Home Depot, Lowe’s, or local hardware store a call and ask if they are accepting lights this year. Alternatively, try the Earth911 Recycle Search. This resource will help you locate drop off locations for a wide range of hard-to-recycle items. Just enter your zip code and that you are looking to recycle “string lights”.

Holiday recycling opportunities by municipality:

Some Cook County municipalities are offering special tree and light recycling opportunities for their residents. See below for information on your municipality. Don’t see your municipality listed? Give them a call anyway, they may have a holiday recycling opportunity that is not listed here.

Make sure to call ahead to verify that the item you are looking to recycle will be accepted this year. Trees for all collections should be free of all decoration and should not be put in a bag. Check with your municipality for specific instructions.

Arlington Heights

Lights

Any non-working strings of holiday lights or extension cords can be recycled from November 30 through February 26, by dropping them off at the Health & Human Services Department at Village Hall or at the Public Works Center, 222 N. Ridge Ave. More information here.

Barrington

Lights

Collection of holiday lights will be at the Public Works Facility, 300 N. Raymond Avenue, late-November through March. More information here.

Elmhurst

Lights

Traditional lights, Italian mini-lights, extension cords, rope lights and LED lights can be dropped off at one of the outdoor containers at: Courts Plus (186 S. West Avenue), The Elmhurst Park District Administrative Office (375 W First St.), Wagner Community Center (615 N. West Ave.), The Abbey (407 W Saint Charles Rd), or City Hall (209 N. York St.) through Monday, January 25, 2021 (look for the bins with the “Holiday Lights” signage.)  Call Mickey Boyle at (630) 993-8941 or email MBoyle@epd.org with any questions. More information here.

Evanston

Lights

holiday string lighting and extension cords can be dropped off for recycling at the Evanston Ecology Center, the Robert Crown Center, and the Levy Senior Center between December 1 – January 31, 2021. The 2020-2021 program is supported by the City of Evanston, SWANCC and Elgin Recycling. More information here.

Glenview

Lights

Mini-lights or Italian lights, C7 lights, C9 lights, rope lights, LED lights and extension cords can all be dropped off for recycling at the Public Works Department, at the corner of East Lake Avenue and Shermer Road, November 16, 2020 ​through February 28, 2021. A receptacle is outside the center for collection marked with a sign. All colors and lengths of lights will be accepted. Call the Public Works Department at (847) 657-3030 with questions.​ More information here.

Hanover Park

Lights

The Hanover Park Environmental Committee, in cooperation with Elgin Recycling, Inc., is collecting used holiday lights and extension cords for recycling. Bring in your entire strands, including lights that no longer work, to the Hanover Park Public Works Department, Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 3:30pm. Due to COVID-19 a container will be placed outside the building for collection. The Village will accept these items January 1st through the end of March. More information here.

Northbrook

Lights

From December 1-January 29, holiday lights can be dropped off in the marked bin located at the Fleet Garage behind Village Hall (1227 Cedar Lane) on weekdays from 7am-3pm. More information here.

Park Forest

Trees

Trees can be dropped off at the Aqua Center starting the day after Christmas. Trees will be chipped to be reused in landscapes or will be added to yard waste compost that, when finished processing, is a wonderful additive for soil. Also, a hefty truckload of tree mulch produced by the Village can be delivered to residents’ homes (for a small fee) when landscaping season resumes, or residents can pick up the mulch for freeMore information here.

Lights

Holiday lights can be dropped off in marked bins at Village Hall and the library. The Village has partnered with Gaby Iron and Metal, a local metal recycling company, to make this option available. More information here.

Roselle

Lights

Roselle residents can recycle broken and tangled strands of indoor, outdoor, LED or specialty holiday lights to the drop box located in the outer lobby of the Roselle Police Station, 103 S. Prospect St through the end of January. More information here.

Schaumburg

Trees

Residents can drop Christmas trees off at the Engineering and Public Works Department, 714 S. Plum Grove Rd., for recycling, during the entire month of January. More information here.

Skokie

Lights

Through January 29, 2021, strands of holiday lights may be dropped off in the container located outside the Skokie Public Works main entrance at 9050 Gross Point Road. Drop-offs accepted Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Available through a partnership with Skokie Public Works, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County and Elgin Recycling.  More information here.