Julia Hailes MBE

Sustainability Pioneer


Regifting – eek (May09)

Photo: A rather well-wrapped present…

I don’t just recycled my rubbish, I recycle presents too. I’ve recently discovered that this is called ‘regifting’. Apparently this is an American phrase and I learnt it from my sister-in-law, who comes from the state of Washington but is now living in Devon.

If I get a present that I don’t think I’m going to use I put it in my a large Ottoman box in the spare room. This also applies to presents given to the children. If they don’t look that interested or I think they’re going to tear through the wrapping and then lose interest in seconds, I seize the gift and store it away.

The present box, boosted by things I have bought too, is then a brilliant resource for birthdays throughout the year. Wrapping paper too is used again – the Sellotape carefully removed and names cut out.

Recycling presents and wrapping paper is good from a green point of view. Clearly it makes sense to pass things on if you’re not going to make the most of them. However, there are pitfalls and I’ve recently experienced one.

Thinking about a suitable present for my 6-year old nephew, I found a remote controlled car still in its box. It seemed particularly appropriate because it required a bit of adult help in putting it together – and my brother (his father) is an engineer and so well qualified for that.

Luckily we arrived with a few presents – some from my children, as well as one from me… Oh dear. My sister-in-law exclaimed when she saw the car “It’s a regift!”. And she had given it to one of my children for Christmas. Huge embarrassment. Luckily, she saw the funny side. She said that she’d be able to dine out on the story for a little while.

This experience hasn’t deterred me from ‘regifting’ but it will make me more careful to make a note of who has given me what. And, my nephew didn’t seem to mind a bit – he was delighted with the car!

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  1. ha ha! Funny story – have you thought about adding a "sticky" or post-it note to your "re-gifts" to say who it was from, to save future embarrassment? Nick (Project Dirt)

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