Chelsea Burns, Content Editor
December 6, 2022
One survey found that Americans throw away $16 billion in unwanted gifts every Christmas. And if you think returning the items is better, think again—a 2018 report found that returns account for five billion pounds of waste sent to the landfill. A sustainable solution: Regifting! Though passing along a gift to someone else has gotten a bad wrap, when done correctly and thoughtfully, it can get an item off your hands, keep it out of the landfills, and in the end makes someone else happy. A win, win, win!
Here’s how to nail the regifting game:
Choose the best recipient.
Regifting is not about giving your “trash” to someone else to deal with. Truly evaluate who would enjoy the gift and get the most joy from it. Here’s how to evaluate: Look at the item and ask yourself, “Do I want to give this piece away because this person would find value in it or because I feel guilty getting rid of it?” Regifting is also not an excuse to not have to buy a gift for someone. If you don’t have anything to regift but also want to limit spending, try other sustainable gift ideas like a custom playlist, a home cooked meal, or a handmade “coupon” book of favors you can do for them (i.e. watch their dog, water their plants, etc.).
Make a point of the presentation.
Since you didn’t have to spend time searching for a gift, make sure you take the time to make the wrapping feel special. A great gift is a great gift, no matter how it’s delivered, but, there is something about a present that’s decked out before you even open it. That said, most wrapping paper can’t be recycled and is really wasteful. Instead, dress up your gift Furoshiki style with material they can use again like a scarf or hand towel. And, of course, don’t forget a card!
New items only, please!
When it comes to regifting, stick to unopened, new gifts that still have tags or have not been used—unless it’s a thrifted or vintage item, of course! The goal is for the person receiving the gift to feel like this present was chosen just for them and if it’s obviously been used or is recognized as being gifted secondhand, all the special feelings are moot.
Can’t find the right fit for your regift?
For those items that you can’t quite find the right fit, try a free swap forum like TrashIsNothing.com or FreeCycle. Both organizations connect you to local groups based on your location and from there you can upload your free item and someone in the group can claim it. Similar to the idea of Facebook marketplace but everything is free!