December 9, 2020

County’s Department of Environmental Protection Encourages Greener Gifting This Holiday Season with a ‘Gift Outside the Box’

Much of the holiday season will be different this year, including gift giving. Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and partners are encouraging people to gift greener this holiday season by supporting local businesses and reducing their carbon footprint with the annual “Gift Outside the Box” campaign.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Gift Outside the Box campaign brings together County agencies and community organizations to promote environmentally friendly gift giving. The holiday campaign again will focus on five areas:
  • Buy Local: Help 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 in nature and at parks.
  • Gift Greener: If you want to purchase brand 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: Among the most appreciated gifts are donations to local charities in the name of a family member or friend. Also, 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 all of paper (minimize wrapping all together by using reusable gift bags and cloth).
“The difficult times created by this pandemic gives us an opportunity to think about supporting our local businesses as a way to give greener this holiday season,” said DEP Director Adam Ortiz. “DEP and our partners are challenging residents to reduce waste by thinking differently about how they shop for and give gifts. Together, we can reduce waste, save energy and build a strong local economy.”

As a result of the COVID-19 health crisis, DEP has been hosting a series of virtual events to highlight ways residents can gift outside the box this holiday season. One more event will be held from 5-6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 16. The theme of that event is “Give Back and Give Thanks.”

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