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'I Endorse Re-Gifting': Gift Recycling Gets a Green Re-Frame

Gift away, with the expectation that your recipient may do the same.

One childhood Christmas, a relative gifted me a cat-themed journal; it was inscribed to somebody else. At the time, I was super interested in both cats and journaling, and if the gift's original recipient was less so, I should have been glad that the item had finally found its rightful owner. But the re-gifting was a secret shame neither party could acknowledge to the other. When I stepped away from the tree, someone carefully tore out the offending page.

Re-gifting has since received a boost from the eco-conscious consumerism movement—your white elephant is now perfect for the person interested in journals, cats, and the environment. But passing a gift along to another remains a social faux pas—better to awkwardly exclaim "I love it!" before trashing it. Now, gift-givers can attempt to soften the blow with a new suite of sharable tools designed to show solidarity with re-gifters. Just download Brain Pickings' free, sharable "I Endorse Regifting" icons; print, stamp or stencil them onto wrapping paper or gift cards; then, gift away, with the expectation that your recipient may do the same.

Making re-gifting socially acceptable helps extend the shelf life of consumer items before they hit the landfill. But it's not enough to destigmatize previously-owned presents—we need to re-gift smarter, too. To ensure you're gifting used things to people who really want them, consider distributing them through a website like Freecycle or Craigslist, or arranging a clothing swap to help friends pick and choose what fits them best. And for times you've been saddled with a real dud, up-gift it by painting, embroidering or otherwise re-crafting the gift into something even better.

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