Studies have found that 21 million people across the UK receive unwanted Christmas gifts each year, with an estimated £5.03 billion going down the drain. These items aren’t just gathering dust in our homes though, with unwanted presents creating a massive amount of waste. 

Here’s what to do with your unwanted Christmas gifts instead to ensure they don’t end up in landfill.

Return or exchange it

This is the first step you should take with any unwanted Christmas gist you receive, you don’t want the gift-giver to have wasted their money, after all. Remember, this will only work if you know where the gift came from in the first place!

Keep in mind that you have no legal right to return items purchased in a store unless they’re faulty, not as described, or they don’t work as they’re supposed to, but fortunately many stores have a returns policy so it’s worth checking it out. If you have the receipt, the package is unopened and you’re within the shop’s return period you’re in luck. 

If you haven’t got the receipt, it will be a bit trickier as you may have to let the person who bought you the present you aren’t happy and that’s where things get awkward. Hopefully, you have a good relationship with the gift-giver and they want you to have a gift you enjoy, otherwise, some stores do offer a credit note or voucher card if you don’t have a receipt so you can buy yourself something else! 

Regift or swap it 

If you know the gift you’ve just received isn’t for you but might be right up your friend’s street then pass the present on to someone it may be more suited to, which can also save you money on buying something new for a special occasion coming up. Be sure to have a good excuse ready though, if that person then asks you for a gift-receipt to return the item. 

You’re unlikely to be the only one who has received a gift that isn’t quite right so keep an eye out for a strained smile or a gift swap opportunity for you to both end up happy.

Donate it 

The first answer for many when they receive an unwanted gift is to donate it to a charity shop so someone else can find joy in the gift whilst money goes towards an important cause, but often this isn’t a great solution. 

Many charity shops have been overwhelmed with donations from people who have spent quarantine decluttering their homes, alongside the pressures of lockdown older stock has stacked up, meaning shops are struggling to find the funding they need. 

If that’s not enough of a reason, the items we donate to charity often don’t end up on the shop floor in the first place, especially clothing. A study found that up to 90% of clothing items are shipped off overseas to places like sub-Saharan Africa, which often stifles their own local economy and causes textile job losses. 

Instead, look for places that are actively asking for specific donations, donate your old clothes to homeless shelters, or share the items in your local community instead.

If you’ve received a book you’ve already read then consider donating it to the local library or schools in the nearby area where it would be appreciated. There are also specific charities focused on donating books to places in need.

You could also donate any sporting equipment to the local schools, youth groups, or sports clubs who may be in need of a spare tennis racket or football. 

Sell it on

If you want to avoid the awkward conversation with the gift-giver to return your present then selling your item could be another great option. This way someone will be able to enjoy the gift you aren’t going to, and you can make a bit of money on the side to make up for the lost item. 

There are a variety of ways you can sell your present on, whether that be to friends, family and co-workers or through an online marketplace app like GoEthical, where you can display detailed listings for your unwanted product to find them a new home.

Avoid the same mistake next year 

To reduce your gift-giving waste and live more sustainably at Christmas then there are a few things you should consider when buying your next gift. 

Taking a step back and questioning yourself before you make a purchase will really help to reduce unwanted presents, consider if the recipient genuinely needs the item or are you just buying for the sake of it? Will the product last long or is it just a novelty? Could you make something more meaningful yourself instead? 

As a gift-giver always remember to ask for a gift-receipt, especially if the item is a personal present such as clothing, makeup, or accessories, to ensure no wasted presents.

And just to ensure your gift won’t be unwanted, these are the top 10 returned Christmas gifts to avoid:

  1. Shoes
  2. Kitchen Appliances
  3. Video Games
  4. Sweets
  5. Candles
  6. Gym Wear
  7. DVDs
  8. Toddler Clothing
  9. Glassware
  10. Makeup 

Download the GoEthical App for a more ethical future

Shop from GoEthical this festive season, whether you have a specific product in mind, or you’re looking for Christmas gift ideas. Buy and sell sustainable, artisan, ethical, pre-loved and eco-friendly products at GoEthical. 

Chat and connect with like-minded community members, and discover detailed listings for ethical and eco products from small sellers to well-known global brands for the personal touch this Christmas. 

Download the GoEthical app to start supporting small businesses:

For queries please either email us on enquiries@GoEthical.comor call us on 020 8337 2175, we look welcome all to our community and forward to hearing from you.




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