Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection Unveils ‘Gift Outside the Box’ Campaign Encouraging Greener Gifting for Holiday Season

by Patrick Herron

The annual Gift Outside the Box campaign brings together County agencies and community organizations to promote environmentally friendly gift-giving. The holiday campaign will focus on five areas:

  • Buy Local: Support County and State businesses by purchasing locally made products. Look for the “MoCo Made” label at Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS) or other retail stores.
  • Gift Experiences: No need for a box when the gift features event tickets, Montgomery Recreation classes, music lessons, and time to be spent in nature or at parks.
  • Gift Greener: If purchasing new items, make sure that they encourage green living and, when possible, help people lower their utility bills. Consider LED lightbulbs, smart thermostats and reusable materials such as water bottles, metal straws and cloth napkins.
  • Give Back: Appreciated gifts include donations to local charities in the name of a family member or friend. Consider setting aside time to spend with friends and family by volunteering together.
  • Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: Reduce waste by buying gifts made from recycled or reused materials, regift items not used from last year and recycle the paper (minimize wrapping by using reusable gift bags and cloth).

“Each year the ‘Gift Outside the Box’ campaign reminds us to find ‘greener’ ways to celebrate the holidays—this includes shopping local,” said County Executive Elrich. “When we shop local and purchase gifts made locally, we’re investing in our communities, improving our local economy and helping our environment by using less fuel. I want to encourage everyone to think about supporting our local small businesses during this gift-giving season and all year long. Together, we can reduce waste, save energy and build a strong local economy.”

DEP Acting Director Adriana Hochberg said the Gift Outside the Box campaign follows the County’s year-round campaign to reduce waste and help the environment.

“As people begin the gift-giving of the holiday season, we hope everyone will consider ‘greener’ ways to show love and friendship to friends and family and love for our planet,” said Ms. Hochberg. “DEP and our partners are challenging all of us to reduce waste by thinking differently about how we shop for and give gifts. Every action we take, whether it is shopping at thrift stores, or buying from local small businesses—every little bit adds up and makes a difference.”

DEP staff will be handing out free reusable bags and offering lightbulb exchanges at the following events:

  • Saturdays, Dec. 3, 10 and 17. Noon-5 p.m. Wheaton Holiday Market. Marian Fryer Town Plaza, 2424 Reedie Dr., Wheaton.
  • Saturday, Dec. 3. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Westfield Wheaton. 11160 Veirs Mill Rd., Wheaton.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, household waste in the U.S. increases an average of 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Wrapping paper, decorations, packaging and leftover food (and sometimes even gifts) often do not last long and end up in the waste stream.

More information about the most sustainable ways to give for the holidays is available at the Gift Outside the Box website at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dep/gift-greener.html.

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