Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Changing the future of gift giving!

Giving gifts feels good and receiving gifts also feels good under the right circumstances.  However at this time of year with all the pressure to give gifts and thank people for the ones received, gift giving and receiving can turn into one big stress and/or disappointment.  Well I think it is time to start being honest about the practise of gift giving and receiving and over the last year I have gradually been going off the whole thing for the following reasons:
  1. Giving a gift often involves making a purchase, handing it over and walking away.  I'm not sure that is the best way to show someone I care.
  2. There is an expectation that gifts get given at set times every year. I feel this puts pressure on the person giving who feels obligated to produce something at a particular point in time, whether it is convenient to them or not.  
  3. Gifts almost invariably are expected to be something new.  Not only are they new, but they are often covered in layers of packaging and then wrapped up (although there are some eco-friendly alternatives to wrapping paper).  The production, transportation and sale of almost all new items have a huge impact upon the environment and most are eventually destined for one place - landfill!  Even recycling the waste produced has an environmental cost.
  4. Quite often it is a guessing game as to what people would like and it is fairly easy to get it totally wrong.  So either the gifts get put in the cupboard and forgotten about, kept anyway and added to the general clutter, returned to the shop or quietly regifted with ensuing feelings of guilt about not actually going out and spending money on something specifically for that person.
  5. Many gifts are novelty and luxury items that people really don't need.  These items will often end up in landfill quicker than most and just fulfill a social obligation (e.g. Secret Santa) which people get a five second buzz out of when they open it up and then lose all interest.
I have to admit that over the last year, I have been regifting anything I have felt that I didn't need and making or buying the rest of my gifts secondhand where possible.  Regifting is my preferred option with unwanted gifts, as other than returning the item to the shop, it is the best way to maximise the items value.  However  I have started to realise that regifting doesn't help in the long run as after a while giving and receiving loses all meaning!  Now I have decided it is time to change the future of gift giving (well in my household anyway)!

I believe that constantly buying, giving, receiving and even regifting new things year after year is not sustainable, not desirable and not necessary!  As the holiday season approaches we are all encouraged to shop, shop, shop - but we should be encouraged to reduce, reuse, recycle!  In future I don't want people to feel that they need to give me 'new' gifts at set times of year and if they really want to get presents for my kids, I would much rather they bought them secondhand!

This year I plan to give good feelings, good times, secondhand or homemade items,  help and support to loved ones and friends rather than a whole load of new stuff destined to clutter up their homes on their way to landfill!

What do you feel about giving gifts?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

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