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Baltimore County Now

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Keyword: reuse

photo of man with donationsMeghan Schatz
Bureau of Solid Waste Management

As the holidays arrive, our belts tighten around our post-Thanksgiving waists and our wallets thin from the joy of giving to our loved ones. Amid the hustle and bustle of department store discounts and clearance racks, it’s easy to overlook all the perfectly good items piling up at home.

Many of us have unused low-definition TV’s, working cell phones untouched since the latest update, and outdated toys and games collecting dust in the basement. One can imagine Clement Clark Moore actually intended the timeless poem “‘Twas the Night before Christmas” to read “when out on the lawn there arose such a clutter.”

In addition to fueling the holiday spirit by helping others, donating, or choosing to reuse, unused goods has many advantages. As opposed to discarding items as trash, donating reduces disposal costs, cuts down on air and water pollution, and conserves space in Baltimore County’s landfill (which is already over 50 percent filled). Donating certain items may even qualify as a valuable tax deduction.

Here are some ways you can donate this holiday season.

Large household appliances, like electric stoves, refrigerators, and furniture, are accepted by the American Rescue Workers, which resells the items. The proceeds fund a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, a soup kitchen, and an overnight shelter for people in need.

Pet supplies, from crates to animal water bottles to blankets and towels, are acceptable items to donate to the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) to be used for the animals at the shelter.

Books in good condition, as well as CDs and DVDs, can be donated to the Towson Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library. These are sold at the annual Friends of the Towson Library Book Sale, which raises funds to support the Towson Library.

Cell phones complete with chargers and batteries can be donated to the Family Crisis Center of Baltimore County to be given to people experiencing domestic violence.

Gently-used eyeglasses and sunglasses donated to Lenscrafters find new homes internationally with those who need glasses but cannot afford them.

Building supplies, like faucets, sinks, toilets, doors, windows, and tools, just to name a few, can easily be donated to The Loading Dock, Inc. Just bring them to either of two County residents’ drop-off facilities (the Central Acceptance Facility in Cockeysville or the Eastern Sanitary Landfill Solid Waste Management Facility in White Marsh).

Goodwill Industries and The Salvation Army offer convenient locations across Baltimore County for items such as clothing, furniture, beds, toys, tools, household goods and more.

For a more in-depth list of acceptable items to donate, and where to take them, see the County’s Reuse Directory.

Remember – not everybody can give as much as you this holiday season. By donating unneeded goods, you can help fill more homes with cheer. And don’t forget – after you open your holiday gifts, make room in your closets, on your shelves, and in your cabinets by donating all your usable, but no longer wanted, items.

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.

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