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For Immediate Release: Thursday, November 14, 2019

Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is partnering with County agencies and organizations for the third consecutive year to provide residents with ways to green their holiday giving with “Gift Outside the Box.”

County Executive Marc Elrich and partner agencies will help kick off the campaign on Friday, Nov.15, at an event from noon-3 p.m. at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore at 1029 East Gude Dr. in Rockville. Formal ceremonies for the launch are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. The date also is celebrated nationally as “America Recycles Day.”

DEP Director Adam Ortiz and John Paukstis, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland, also will speak at the kickoff event.

“This time of year, we are all flooded with messages about how and where we should spend our money on gifts,” said DEP Director Ortiz, “and most of those ads are focused on one theme: buy more stuff. The County is trying to turn that on its head and use our campaign to inspire our residents to give differently.”

Gift Outside the Box focuses on five areas where residents can learn ways to gift in a more environmentally responsible way.

  • Buy local: Support County businesses and purchase locally made products. Look for the “MoCo Made” label.
  • Gift experiences: No need for a box when the gift features event tickets, Montgomery Recreation classes, music lessons and time in nature and parks.
  • Gift greener: New items still are the choice of many gift givers, but they are encouraged to think green, with gifts such as reusable water bottles or smart thermostats.
  • Give back: Among the most appreciated gifts are donations to a local charity or 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. For all gifts, minimize wrapping.

“This year, the campaign kickoff coincides with America Recycles Day because both campaigns are focused on changing behavior to reduce waste and decrease our environmental footprint,” said Director Ortiz.

During the campaign, County staff will provide residents with free reusable bags at select events and shops.

The Habitat for Humanity ReStore was chosen as the site for the kickoff event because the nonprofit store takes donated items—many new items donated by retail stores and other donated items of many kinds from residents and businesses—and resells them at well below retail costs. The net profits are used to help in the organization’s mission to help rebuild homes for people in need.

ReStore offers an opportunity to meet the Gift Outside the Box goal of reducing the purchase of new items, reusing existing items, and recycling items that can no longer be used.

More information about the most sustainable ways to give for the holidays is available at the Gift Outside the Box website at

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Release ID: 19-369
Media Contact: Leslie Wilcox 240-777-7780