In 2009 the Australian Institute conducted a survey of 1294 adults about their gift receiving habits and the results were astonishing. Of this sample group it was concluded that one in three Australians received one or more Christmas presents that they never used or later gave away. This equates to over six million people getting something ‘meh’ worthy in their Christmas stocking.
Are you one of them?
One in four of the survey respondents suggested that some of their Christmas presents would either go unused or be regifted at a later date. With the Australia Institute estimating that these unwanted gifts are worth a whopping $798 million dollars worth of time, money and resources, we should either be celebrating the art of regifting, or seriously rethinking the way we gift.
So what is driving us to give thoughtless and useless gifts (the survey specifically mentions foot spas, remember those, weren’t they wastes of space, who has one)?
We could blame it on the moonlight, the good times, or the boogie but truth be told the real culprit is the media, marketing, and the global economy.
For those of you not-so-passionate about economics, which really is the majority of us, the global economic health of a country is based around how much stuff (goods and services) they sell every year. If they are selling lots of stuff, there is lots of money in circulation which is good because the more stuff we want to buy the more stuff we need to make or import which keep people in employment and makes the politicians happy. If a country goes into a recession, like when scary things happen that make us want to stop spending, shoppers stop shopping and there is less money floating around and lots of people end up unemployed. This results in sad politicians who look very embarrassed at G20 summits.
Christmas, like all holiday seasons, is used to stimulate spending in shoppers like you and I, and inject the economy with lots of funds.
Here in Australia it is predicted that an average family will spend a little over four thousand dollars in the the four week holiday period for 2014, resulting in a national spend of 32.6 billion dollars on Christmas celebrations. Not to give anyone as case of the holiday guilts but if we were to invest that money elsewhere, say providing clean drinking water to the entire world, we would be able to provide a little more than three years worth of drinking water to all of the worlds water needy folk for each year worth of holiday spending. How good would it feel to provide the world with cleaning drinking water if we just stopped spending on Christmas stuff every three years? Alas, this isn’t a likely scenario seeing as we are all so fond of our holiday season.
Given that we aren’t likely to go on Christmas spending hiatus any time soon lets look at the socially tabu subject that one in four Australians participate in but nobody talks about.
The secret society of Regifting.
Whats so bad about giving something that wasn’t fit for purpose in your life to someone who might be able to use it?
Well, it all comes back to marketing. Each year we are presented with beautiful advertisements that tell us how much our significant others will appreciate us if we buy them the latest stubby strip, diamond pendant, nutra bullet superfood extraction system, skylanders toy or *insert any other advertisement you have seen in the past week here*. This bombardment with the latest and greatest inventions feeds our desires as consumers to ‘need’ the next new thing which results in these lust-worthy items ending up on our Christmas wish lists.
Very few of us are immune to this kind of lust (I am DEFINITELY not one of these lucky folk) so most of us have a certain something we would like to fill that little pocket of desire in our lives. For the educated or thoughtful consumer, receiving this item will be a blessing as it will be something that adds value to their lives and gets utilised on a daily basis. The rest of us may get what we want only to wonder what we were planning to do with it in the first place (hello 2009 foot spa epidemic). These items are the $798 million dollars worth of
crap unused or regifted stuff that was mentioned by the respondents of the Australian Institute Christmas survey. Considering this unwanted stuff has so much economic value it is a little shameful that we shun those who want to regift items that aren’t useful in their lives to others who may be able to use them.
Isn’t gifting something in it is box, in its original ‘fit for sale’ state pretty much the exact same thing as going and physically purchasing that item from the store itself?
Perhaps as a society we need to ‘shake off’ the stigma of gifting (Taylor Swift style) and regift with pride (and a song and dance if you are musically inclined). The only thing stopping us from regifting or gifting a second hand item is the stigma we face as gift givers as the economy and the media wants us to buy new every season.
If the royal ‘we’ decided to say ‘F-You’ to the media and accept regifting as a totally awesome way of recycling then we would save millions of dollars worth of wastage.
Let’s take the pledge here as ethical and eco consumers to regift our unwanted items with pride from this day forth. Knowing that by doing so you are avoiding unnecessary waste, giving unwanted items a chance to fulfil their intial purpose (which wasn’t taking up space in your garage), simplifying your life, and saving money that could otherwise be spent on better causes, like providing clean drinking water.
Who’s with me on the ‘regift with pride’ bandwagon?
Come on, one in four of you knows you want to join us…