Now in its third year, the Gift Outside the Box Campaign is a program where Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection and our partners challenge you to reduce waste by thinking differently about how you shop for and give gifts. Together, we can reduce waste, save energy and build a strong local economy.
With the holiday season fast approaching, we encourage you to #giftgreener and have compiled 15 creative ideas to help you lower waste and give sustainably this year.
1. Food: Spice up your holiday with a gourmet hot sauce or try unique salsas, jams, honey, caramel, and coffee beans from MoCo venders. Take a look at the Montgomery County Food and Beverage Guide for a list of local retailers and products available near you.
2. Spirits: Pick up local beer, wine & spirits from a Montgomery County brewery or distillery or treat a loved one to a wine tasting. Check out the Maryland Spirits Month calendar for upcoming event details!
3. Art: Purchase pottery, paintings, candles, soaps, or hand-crafted wood furniture from a community craftsman or at a Montgomery County winter farmer’s market. These artisan products are unique, sustainably sourced options.
4. See a show: Gift tickets to an art exhibit, concert, sporting event, movie or community theater production. The Strathmore, Round House Theatre, and Olney Theatre Center put on various events and weekly performances. For more resources in Montgomery County, take a look at their Arts and Humanities page.
5. Take a Class: Treat someone to an art or cooking class in Montgomery County. Montgomery Parks offers Festive Fresh Greens, Plant Propagation, and Natural Ornament workshops among other crafts and activities.
6. Memberships: Give a long-lasting experience such as a yoga studio membership, spa certificate, an annual state park pass, or magazine subscription. Montgomery County Recreation memberships provide access to indoor and outdoor recreation facilities including open gym hours, pools and events. Annual passes are discounted for county residents!
7. Green Businesses: Purchase minimally packaged gifts or shop at Certified Green Businesses. Package Free Shop is an online retailer that sells reusable products in plastic-free packaging.
8. Plants: Gift green (literally) with a potted houseplant or succulent. Plants brighten up a living space and help to bring the outdoors inside during the winter. These gifts are long lasting and easily compostable.
9. Energy Efficiency Gadgets: Give energy efficiency tech and gadgets to reduce residential utility costs. Take a look at energy star appliances, solar powered batteries and gadgets to help monitor energy usage in the home. Check out Montgomery County Energy for energy efficiency tools and tips!
10. Volunteer: Spend time with a friend or family member volunteering in your community. Take a look at the Montgomery County Volunteer Center programs for opportunities near you!
11. Donate Blood: Help keep those in need healthy this holiday by donating blood at a local blood bank.
12. Donate Food & Clothes: Support your community by giving food, clothes or toys to a local charity. Check out Montgomery County’s Donation page for details regarding drop-off and pick-up sites for different types of donations.
13. Reduce: Give a coffee thermos, mug or cutlery set to reduce single-use products. These items are great to have at work or on-the-go. Most coffee shops offer a discount for bringing your own cup!
14. Reuse: Shop at antique and consignment stores and bring your own reusable shopping bags. Visit a Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Rockville or Silver Spring for furniture and appliances. This is a great way to find one-of-a-kind gifts and lower your waste!
15. Recycle & Re-wrap: Find products that are easily recyclable or compostable. Materials like glass, bamboo, paper and steel are less likely to end up in a landfill. Think about wrapping gifts in things like newspapers, posters, fabric, jars, tins, or recycled gift bags.
This blog post was written by Natalie Sanford, a volunteer with the Department of Environmental Protection and loves ecology, climate science, and sustainable lifestyle alternatives. She graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Environmental Science and can be found on LinkedIn.