Everyday Enviro with Elise - Shifting to regifting - RNY News

Everyday Enviro with Elise - Shifting to regifting

December 3, 2018

Elise Catterall

Elise explores why it seems more socially acceptable to buy a cheap piece of plastic to give as a gift, than to hand down a higher value, preloved item in good condition.

If I could suggest an alternative to traditional Christmas present shopping that 1) helped you save money, 2) helped you reduce consumerism, 3) kept you out of the shopping malls, 4) helped you declutter or support a charity, and 5) plugged you firmly into the circular economy, and helping the environment, would you be open to it?

I want to explore what is considered by many to be social unacceptable when it comes to gift giving – regifting.  Not too long ago, I was chatting with a friend about how it is more socially acceptable to buy a cheap piece of plastic to give as a gift, than to hand down a higher value, preloved item in good condition (or even to buy a higher value, preloved item in good condition), even if that item had never been used.  When I think about that, it sounds crazy!

What would it take for us to make a shift to accept regifting (or thriftgifting, if you’ve bought it from a second-hand shop)? Do we really only feel valued - which is surely the purpose of gift giving - if our gift giver has spent money on a new item? Personally, I have been on the receiving end of two instances of regifting/thriftgifting that made me feel more valued than ever – the first, in which a friend sought out an old edition (read: second-hand) of a beloved book and the second, in which a friend passed on to me a gorgeous top that I had always loved (and not-so-secretly coveted).  The underlying message in both of these gifts was that they were genuinely thinking about what would make me happy – financial investment was not a consideration, nor was the newness of the item.  And these two gifts have probably been the most valued I’ve ever received.

So, the moral of this story - it is the thought that counts.  It doesn’t matter where the gift comes from (or where it’s been) and it doesn’t matter how much it cost – it matters that love and thought was put into the choice.  This doesn’t make regifting/thriftgiving come naturally though, but perhaps having these conversations will help.

There are some rules are out there to help you juggle the etiquette of regifting, and I will happy share these with you:

  • Make sure you are giving something they will love – palming off tat is not what this is about. No one will feel valued by that.
  • If you are regifting a consumable, the item should probably be unused. I would love to receive the Chanel No.5 you received and don’t love, but not if it there is only half left.
  • The item needs to be clean/functional/safe/unbroken.
  • If the original gift giver would be offended by you giving it away, think twice about it, or at least make sure you give the gift to someone well outside of the gift giver’s circle of friends.
  • Think carefully if you are going to pass it off as new – if the recipient wants to exchange something for a different size, and asks for the receipt to do so, you’ll be caught out.

Certainly, buying new is convenient, but doesn’t regifting/thriftgifting – with all its advantages and with the adventure of it – sound fun? Let’s embrace it – for this Christmas and beyond.

See you next time! - Elise

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Elise Catterall

Elise is a writer, photographer, and naturopath with a passion for nature. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2017 through the University of Sydney. Her photographic work focuses on flowers and plants as a way of celebrating nature. She has been writing for Planet Ark since 2017, sharing positive environment stories, personal environmental experiences and perspectives.