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Baltimore County News

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Date: Dec 2012

Happy HolidaysKitty McIlroy, Student Intern, Baltimore County Bureau of Solid Waste Management
Senior, Goucher College Environmental Studies Major

When it comes time for holiday shopping, often it becomes a rush to find last minute gifts for family members and friends. If you plan ahead a little, you can avoid the quick purchase of a generic holiday card, store-bought wrapping paper or a gift bag. If you’re like me, and feel guilty about this extra waste, then keeping a few holiday wrapping tips in mind will transform your holiday habits and keep your environmental conscience at ease.  These “green” ideas provide a low-to-zero waste way to wrap and give presents to your loved ones this holiday season. Enjoy!     

Waste Reduction and Recycling Tips for Holiday Wrapping:

Wrapping Reuse:

Reuse items such as packaging peanuts or take them to local mailing/shipping stores. Try to reuse all previous holiday wrapping items, even glass jars and tins. Get creative and use old maps, sheet music, comics, newspaper, calendars, magazines, shopping or plain paper bags and extra wallpaper to decorate your packages. Make your own wrapping paper by painting or drawing some original art with personal messages to make a one-of-a-kind gift. Even something like a nice cloth or bandana can be used as wrapping, and it can also be part of the present.

Back To Nature:

You can also purchase cards and wrapping materials made from 100% recycled paper. Also, don’t forget material such as banana fiber “paper” and designs printed with soy-based inks. These materials eventually can be composted. Just by stepping outside you can find natural alternatives to store-bought bows by using sprigs of berries, holly, pine cones or shells.  Additional decorations can come from organic materials such as leaves, ivy, lavender, rosemary or cinnamon sticks. You can even purchase wrapping paper made with wildflower seeds. These seeds can be planted after being unwrapped. Finally, when wrapping a present, natural twine or yarn can serve as an alternative to ribbons and petroleum based tape, and twine and yarn are reusable.

Crafty Card Ideas:

Reuse old cards to make gift tags or holiday postcards or take the old cards to organizations that will reuse them. Try making your own gift cards out of recycled paper or using zero-waste alternatives like “e-cards.”

I hope this spurs your creativity and prompts you to craft some wonderful, eco-friendly wrapping designs. Send a picture of your handiwork to and it might get posted online! Good Luck and Happy Holidays.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz

It’s getting late and you still need a one-of-a-kind gift for someone special.  It’s time to shop small. Baltimore County’s locally owned shops are the place to go for unique gifts and restaurant gift certificates.  When you support local business owners you help keep the neighborhood economy going strong. 

Baltimore County’s holiday gift to you is 1,735 free parking spaces during some of the busiest shopping days of the season. Every one of these free parking spaces is near great locally owned shops and restaurants.

Shoppers get two hours of free parking December 20-25.  Just look for the meters decorated with red “Seasons Greetings” bags in Catonsville, Towson, Parkville, Essex, Pikesville, Arbutus, Stoneleigh, Overlea, and Dundalk.

Check out our holiday parking video -- then get up, get out and shop local! 

Keywords: free parking, shopping

chimneyEllen Kobler, Deputy Director

Baltimore County Office of Communications

In my family, Christmas season is greeted every year with mixed feeling as we think about some very special family members who we’ve lost at Christmastime over the years. The death of our Uncle Tony from carbon monoxide poisoning 12 years ago is particularly troubling because it could have been so easily prevented.

Uncle Tony was a jovial, “more the merrier” kind of man who always showed up at your house with a big smile, a bag full of groceries and helpful hints about everything under the sun. He was proud of his service as an Air Force pilot and prouder still of his 14 grandchildren. A contractor by trade, Tony and his son fixed up houses and sold them at a tidy profit. He could take apart and repair absolutely anything and was always volunteering to pitch in to help family and his multitude of friends.

Uncle Tony and Aunt Peggy thought he had the flu – headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea. Aunt Peggy’s sudden onset of heart palpitations was being monitored by a cardiologist. They didn’t know that carbon monoxide poisoning can produce the same symptoms.

Tony was a portly gentleman and the initial determination of a fatal heart attack seemed to make sense. Until the day of the funeral when other family members who had spent the night at the house came down with the same “flu.” My adult cousin Peg had gone to the ER with convulsions that were misdiagnosed as anxiety. Her brother Richard also went to the hospital that night. We found out during Tony’s funeral luncheon that their sickness was CO poisoning.

How ironic, that like many contractors, his own house was low on his list of priorities. My Aunt Peggy couldn’t remember the last time – if ever – that the furnace and flue had a routine inspection and cleaning. The buildup of carbon monoxide was caused by a concrete chunk that fell and blocked the furnace flue. There were no carbon monoxide detectors in the house.

Baltimore County actually requires CO Detectors in all rental housing and many owner-occupied homes. This is a smart policy that is proven to save lives.

So, my Christmas wish this year is that everyone who reads this will get their heating system inspected before the end of the year and add some $20 carbon monoxide detectors to their holiday shopping lists. It’s a gift that could save your life and the lives of the people you love.


Revised April 6, 2016