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Keyword: sustainability
Photo of wrapped gifts under a tree

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans generate 25 percent more waste than usual during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Waste less this holiday season by using these helpful tips written by various Bureau of Solid Waste Management staff over the years:

  • Choose a fresh, Maryland-grown tree this holiday season. Fresh trees look great and smell even better, but did you know that real Christmas trees are also renewable, recyclable and benefit the environment? Be sure to mulch or compost your live Christmas tree at the end of the holiday season. If that’s not possible, Baltimore County may collect and recycle your live Christmas tree. Check the County’s website or your collection schedule for more information.
  • Reuse the decorations you already own. If you wish to shop, consider thrift stores and yard sales as a source of new holiday décor, or swap decorations with family and friends. You could also try making decorations from things you already have around the house. 
  • Limit lighting and conserve energy by using LED bulbs. Put holiday lights on automatic timers.
  • Reuse greeting cards as holiday craft supplies, decorations, coasters and gift tags. If you buy new, purchase cards made of 100-percent recycled content, or go paperless and send e-card greetings instead.
  • Consider giving an experience, rather than a physical item. Tickets, memberships and lessons all make great gifts.
  • Shop local, buy used and make homemade gifts.
  • Choose gifts that are refillable or reusable. Avoid disposable single-use items, especially if they cannot be recycled. Plants, flowers or food are great gifts that can minimize waste.
  • Donate unwanted items to people who can use them.
  • Reuse holiday wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift bags, boxes and bows. Cloth items, such as scarves, bandanas or shawls, can also be used to wrap presents (and become part of the gift, as well).
  • Turn down the heat. Wear clothing in layers, use blankets and get active if you feel a chill.
  • Hosting a holiday dinner? Use a meal planning tool to help you make just the right amount of food and generate less food waste. 
  • When hosting parties, use reusable kitchenware, tableware and linens. Offer leftovers to guests, or have a potluck and exchange leftovers to prevent food waste.
  • Traveling this holiday season? Reduce fuel costs by driving smart: pack light, change your oil, tighten your fuel cap, check your vehicle’s air filter and tire pressure, drive under 60 MPH, use cruise control and don’t idle. Carpool if possible. Need to travel long distances? Consider taking a train.

Whether you plan to celebrate at home or find yourself traveling to spend it with family and friends, these tips can help you and your loved ones make more cheer and less waste this holiday season.

By Jeanette Garcia Polasky, Department of Public Works

Photo of people walking through a recycling facility

Baltimore County thanks you for recycling! In 2018, Baltimore County residents set out more than 52,500 tons of material for recycling. On America Recycles Day 2019, which was observed on November 15, the Bureau of Solid Waste Management asked residents to celebrate by doing one or more of the following:


by Jeanette Garcia Polasky, Department of Public Works

The Guiness Brewery.Do you like green beer? Not the dyed frothy beverage some people drink on St. Patrick’s Day, but beer that’s made with sustainability in mind. If so, you’re not alone. These days, many beer enthusiasts are even willing to pay more for sustainable beer. In fact, this focus on sustainability is found across consumer markets: a global Nielsen study found that 66 percent of respondents would pay more for products made by sustainable companies, and a Cone Communications study found that 76 percent of Americans expect businesses to address climate change.

Some might say this expectation could negatively affect a company’s bottom line, but studies show that sustainability is good business. An eight-year study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group found that companies can profit by implementing sustainability practices. A study by CDP shows that companies that do this enjoy an 18 percent higher return on investment (ROI) than companies that do not. And a Harvard Business School study shows that one dollar invested in 1993 in a portfolio of companies focused on environmental issues while growing their business would have increased to $28 in 2013 – nearly twice the ROI as a dollar invested in companies focused only on growth in the same time period.

While a global circular economy may seem impossible to some, industry leaders, such as Google, Philips and Unilever, are looking for ways to make it work for them.

Two pints of Guiness.This brings me back to the beer: as a closed-loop model, a circular economy relies heavily on waste prevention and natural resource conservation, and it just so happens one company operating in Baltimore County is leading the way toward a sustainable future by changing its approach to waste.

Located in Halethorpe, Guinness Open Gate Brewery and Barrel House is Baltimore County’s newest and largest brewery and the brand’s first U.S. brewery in more than 60 years. Over the last several years, Guinness’ parent company, Diageo, has made great strides in sustainability, most recently making the Global 100, which places them among the most sustainable companies in the world. In addressing waste, the company is wasting no time, with a target of eliminating waste to landfill from their operations by 2020. Besides recycling, their methods for doing so include:

  • Phasing out plastic straws and stirrers in their establishments.
  • Making packaging more sustainable by reducing the overall packaging weight, increasing the level of recycled materials used in packaging, and ensuring all packaging is recyclable or reusable.
  • Using waste for agricultural purposes. Brewing and distilling by-products are now being used by farmers as animal feed.

Diageo has also committed to establishing sustainable supply chains by working with local suppliers, encouraging suppliers and business partners to adopt similar sustainability standards, and by providing training to help their suppliers do so. Diageo also seeks to use and waste fewer natural resources by improving water and energy efficiency, sourcing low-carbon or renewable energy and using new technology to eliminate unnecessary materials from operations.

Since 2009, Diageo has reduced packaging weight by eight percent, increased recycled material in their packaging by 40 percent, and improved the recyclability of their packaging by almost 99 percent. The company has reduced waste going to landfill by 90 percent and absolute carbon emissions by 36 percent since 2007.

Lastly, Diageo and Guinness undertook a massive “upcycle” project by rehabbing old buildings that housed an historic whiskey distillery instead of building new structures for the brewery site, using recycled and low VOC (volatile organic compound) materials in the process.

Visit Diageo’s website for more information about the company’s zero waste to landfill target and efforts to reduce its environmental impact. To learn more about the brewery, visit

Nov 2019
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Clean Green Baltimore County provides residents and businesses with the latest news and information on county initiatives, services and resources that support sustainable living.

Revised October 25, 2019