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5 easy ways to get rid of unwanted gifts in an eco-friendly way

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Susan Devaney
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Received a gift you’ll never use? Here are a few easy and eco-friendly ways to pass the present on. 

Most gifts are supposed to say, ‘I love you, and this is how much you mean to me’. But sometimes, no matter how well intentioned, the gift really doesn’t suit us at all.

Maybe that’s why in 2016, it was estimated that people across the UK received 115 million unwanted gifts, resulting in over £2.2 billion-worth of unwanted presents.

If you’ve received a gift in recent months that’s not to your own individual taste, don’t let it go to waste. From donating your present to charity, or re-gifting it and selling it online, we’ve complied a few easy and eco-friendly ways to pass it on. 

1) Donate it to charity

Charities around the UK are welcoming donations with open arms.

In 2016, an online poll found that 44% of people dispose of, or completely forget about, an unwanted present. And more than a third shove the gift in a cupboard, never to look at it again.

But with 14 million people currently living in poverty in the UK, charities are welcoming donations with open arms.

“We all receive the occasional present that may not be our cup of tea,” says Javed Khan, chief executive of Barnardo’s. “Rather than throw them away, or stick them in a cupboard you can support some of the UK’s disadvantaged children. Please take any unsuitable gifts to our stores and enjoy a warm feeling knowing your kind act is helping a child that needs your help.” 

From gift sets to stationary and cuddly toys, UK charities want to take unwanted presents off your hands, and give them to people who are truly in need. If you’re in doubt as to where your nearest charity shop is, pop your postcode into the Charity Retail Association website and it’ll show you the exact location of the one closest to you. It really couldn’t be any simpler. 

2) Sell it online 

The first thing to do is to decide which online site best suits you. 

With so many second-hand selling sites available, is it any wonder that one in 10 people sell an unwanted present online? From eBay to Gumtree and Shpock, marketing and selling a second-hand-something online is a quick, and potentially profitable, process.

First, decide which selling site best suits your product. For example, it you want the buyer to pick up the gift from your home (if it’s rather large) then Gumtree is a good option. But if you’re looking to (possibly) make a tidy profit on it, then eBay might be better suited to your needs.

If you’re in the fortunate position of having received a luxury item, such as a Louis Vuitton handbag or a pair of Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses, you might want to make sure that you get your money’s worth when selling it on. In that case, opt for a site like Vestiaire Collective or Rebelle. Not only do they check for authenticity but they also make the whole process, from selling to sold, very simple.

Remember: you’ll need to invest some time in setting up a seller’s profile with any site that you decide to use.

3) Ask for a refund or exchange 

One in 10 unwanted gifts eventually end up in a UK landfill site. 

After receiving an unwanted gift, it can be more than a little difficult to ask the generous giver for the receipt so we can get an exchange or a refund; so it’s hardly surprising that a mere 5% of us actually ask for the receipt to exchange or refund a gift.

If nothing helps with plucking up the courage to ask for the receipt, then think of the environment. With one in 10 unwanted gifts eventually finding its way to a UK landfill site, the future of the planet depends on us returning or re-gifting an undesired present. With most UK stores offering a 30-day returns policy, or an exchange without a receipt, then it’s a risk worth taking to pop into the shop and ask. Go on, swap that unloved burgundy jumper for a black dress. It’ll be an investment for your wardrobe and one for the planet, too. 

And if you’re feeling especially kind, you could always ask for a refund and donate the cash to charity.

4) Re-package, re-gift  

Avoid: food, lingerie, opened cosmetics and products that have been sitting (unopened) in your home for years.

So the gift may not be to your taste, but it could be someone else’s ideal present. In 2018, as we shake off the stuffy connotations often associated with re-gifting, and focus more on the future of the planet, passing a present on has never been more acceptable.

When doing so, it’s vitally important that you consider one key question first: will the person you’re passing it on to genuinely like it? If it’s a yes, then put some extra time and care into wrapping it exceptionally well. If you struggle with the creativity involved in wrapping then have a look on Pinterest for some inspiration before getting started.

Avoid: food, lingerie, opened cosmetics and products that have been sitting (unopened) in your home for years.

5) Exchange your gift card for cash 

It is possible to sell your gift card online for cash. 

A gift card is great if it’s for a shop you love. If not, it’ll more than likely find it’s way to the bottom of your bag until it expires.

With 30% of gift cards going unused each year (around £65 billion worth) this is a huge financial waste. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way, because it is possible to sell your gift card online for cash through Zeek. You may not get the exact full monetary value for the gift card, but you are likely to get a substantial amount. All you have to do is input the brand and Zeek will calculate how much cash they can offer you for it.

If that seems like too much hassle, then you can always re-gift the card to someone who’ll find his or her perfect present in the shop it’s for. That way, everyone’s happy. 

The next time you open a gift that makes your heart sink instead of sing, ensure you find a way to pass the present on.

Images: iStock / Unsplash

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Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney is a digital journalist for Stylist.co.uk, writing about fashion, beauty, travel, feminism, and everything else in-between.

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