Each year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, the amount of garbage produced in the United States increases by 25%. While wrapping paper, tinsel and bows are indeed trash, many other items should be recycled or otherwise properly discarded. Use the resources below to help reduce the amount of garbage around the holidays!

• Electronics: If you receive a new electronic device, don’t put old electronics in the trash. Phones, tablets, computers and TVs should all be reused or recycled. Some places like Tech Dump refurbish items for resale while other items are recycled. Hennepin County accepts items at its drop-off facilities in Brooklyn Park and Bloomington. Visit hennepin.us/dropoffs for info. Many items can be dropped off for free while others have a nominal fee.

• Christmas trees, wreathes and garlands: Many trees throughout the Twin Cities metro are collected and used to generate energy at District Energy St. Paul. In St. Louis Park, residents may set live (cut) trees out for collection at the curb Jan. 4-22 on their collection day. All decorations must be removed. Wreathes and garland often contain wire and can be placed in the trash.

• Don’t leave trees or greenery in backyard woods or compost piles due to concerns about elongate hemlock scale, an insect pest that affects hemlocks, firs and spruce and has been found on holiday greenery in Minnesota. Visit bit.ly/3mLprUA to learn more.

• Holiday lights: If your string lights have seen their last season, take them to Hennepin County drop-off facilities in Brooklyn Park and Bloomington, the Hopkins Public Works Building or a scrap metal recycler like Express Metals in Hopkins.

• Gift bags: Save undamaged bags for reuse. Donate extras to thrift stores or offer them to neighbors through online community forums such as Nextdoor.

• Plastic bags and wrap: Clean, dry plastic bags can be dropped off for recycling at several retail locations including Target, Kohl’s, Lunds & Byerlys and Cub Foods. Plastic bags used to package electronics, toys or small appliances are also accepted.

St. Louis Park residents who have holiday recycling questions may contact the city at recycling@stlouispark.org or 952-924-2562. Visit stlouispark.org/recycling to learn more about recycling in St. Louis Park. Residents of other cities are encouraged to contact their city’s solid waste staff or visit Hennepin County’s Green Disposal Guide at hennepin.us/green-disposal-guide.

Emily Barker is a solid waste specialist for the city of St. Louis Park.

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