Post-Holiday Recycling: Live Trees, Lights Cards, and Boxes for Charity

Don’t miss the opportunity to recycle your live Christmas tree and discarded holiday lights, or even re-box a charitable donation and ship it for FREE. Let Little Lake County tell you where (and for how long) you can access post-holiday recycling programs in Lake County.

Live Christmas Tree Recycling

If you can’t imagine Christmas without a live tree in your living room, you’re not alone. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), North Americans purchase around 33 million fresh cut Christmas trees each year. But after the season is over, many people are left wondering how best to dispose of their tired out tree. The landfill is always an option, but it doesn’t have to be. Give your real Christmas tree the respectful burial it deserves by returning it to the earth via recycling.

Many cities have tree pick up and recycling right at your curbside. To find out what your own municipality has available, and on what days, check your city’s website. For a complete listing of Lake County municipalities and their websites, check the list maintained by Lake County, IL.

If your town does not offer curbside recycling, you can drop off your tree (minus ornaments, of course) at one of the Lake County Forest Preserve sites for recycling. Because the donated trees are chipped and used for trails and landscaping, you can still feel connected to your Christmas memories as you picnic or hike in one of Lake County’s beautiful forest preserves this summer.

Trees can be dropped off at the following sites daily from 6:30 a.m. to sunset. Drop-offs are accepted at the marked sites only, between December 26 and February 1. Trees must be undecorated, real (live) Christmas trees, no yard waste.

  • Grant Woods, Fox Lake – drop off trees at Monaville Road entrance, second parking lot
  • Greenbelt, Waukegan – drop trees off next to maintenance facility
  • Half Day, Vernon Hills – drop trees off next to maintenance facility
  • Heron Creek, Long Grove – drop trees off at Shelter A
  • Lakewood, Wauconda – drop trees off along Forest Preserve Drive
  • Old School, Libertyville – drop trees off near main entrance
  • Ryerson Woods, Deerfield – drop trees of at the end of main entrance road
  • Van Patten Woods, Wadsworth – drop trees off by Shelter A parking area

Lake County Forest Preserves
1899 West Winchester Road, Libertyville | (847) 367-6840

Photo source Lambs Farm on Facebook

The Farmyard at Lambs Farm would love to have your live Christmas tree! Fir and pine trees provide great enrichment for the animals. Trees must be free of all lights, tinsel, and decorations. Please drop trees off by the miniature golf entrance in the southwest corner of the main parking lot.

Lambs Farm
14245 Rockland Rd., Libertyville | (847) 362-4636

Holiday Lights Recycling

Christmas trees aren’t the only holiday items you can recycle. Per Illinois law, all electronics, including holiday lights, are to be recycled and properly disposed of at one of the county recycling centers. You can find the year-round drop off locations at the SWALCO website. We’ve dropped of plenty of items at the Grayslake center, and it’s quick and easy.

The following sites are also holding temporary collections for discarded holiday lights:

Warren-Newport Public Library {Gurnee}
224 O’Plaine Rd., Gurnee | (847) 244-5150
Through January 10th, you can recycle your lights in the white box located in the lobby of the library.

Northbrook Village Hall
1225 Cedar Ln., Northbrook | (847) 272-5050
Drop off your holiday lights at the Northbrook Village hall from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Northbrook Public Works Maintenance Garage
1225 Cedar Ln., Northbrook (behind the Northbrook Village Hall)
Recycle your holiday lights weekdays at the Maintenance Garage between 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Send off Your Holiday Cards

Did you know your seasonal cards and other greeting cards still have a greeting left in them one you’ve received them? Give them another chance to be transformed by sending them to the St. Jude’s Ranch for Children in Nevada where children repurpose the old cards into new ones. This allows the children at the ranch to earn money, learn job skills and value recycling. Keep the address handy as the ranch accepts cards all year long, including:

  • General Christmas,
  • Religious Christmas,
  • Easter,
  • Birthday,
  • Thank You,
  • Sympathy,
  • Get Well,
  • Anniversary, and
  • All-Occasion Blank Greeting cards.

Recycle your Amazon boxes AND Give Back

And new this year, Amazon and Goodwill have partnered to offer you a way to reduce clutter and help those in need with their easy and FREE sustainability program. Simply fill your empty Amazon boxes with clothing and household items you no longer use, print out a free shipping label at, and let UPS or the U.S. Postal Service deliver your items to Goodwill. It’s a win-win!

What items will your family recycle after the holidays are over?


About Jaime Johnson 6 Articles
Jaime Johnson is a Lake County mom, artist and writer.

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