According to WRAP (the organisation that promotes recycling in the UK), this Christmas will see consumers throw away enough wrapping paper to stretch around the equator nine times, or reach to the moon if each sheet were laid end to end. One of their tips to help reduce this number is to look out for gifts that have packaging that can be reused. Their specific examples are gift bags that can be reused and presents which come in tins or plastic containers that can be reused for storage at home. This is a solid message to present any clients who want to use packaging to promote a ‘green’ side to their brand.
But waste at Christmas in not just about wrapping paper, bottles, cans, foil and trees. There is the almost taboo issue of ‘unwanted presents’. In research carried out in Australia by eBay and Gumtree last year, the results revealed over half (56%) of Australians received at least one unwanted gift and almost a third will be using online sites to help pay off some of their own Christmas debt by selling the unwanted presents. Two thirds of Aussies will use the extra funds to pay off bills or boost their savings. The results also found a gender divide with men more likely to sell gifts online for cash and women far more likely to re-gift their unwanted presents.
It’s not just an Australian phenomenon. Last December, the UK newspaper the Mirror ran an article that declared: “Times might be tough but we’ve still managed to waste a staggering £594 million on dodgy Christmas gifts. At least one of the 10 gifts the average person received will be left unloved under the tree. Internet auction site eBay saw a surge of some 200,000 Brits hitting the net to flog unwanted pressies on Christmas morning. By Boxing Day almost 1.5 million new items had been listed on the site as the disappointed hoped to turn trash into cash.”
Giving consumers the chance to give and receive gifts that are genuinely loved goes much further than the fuzzy feeling of satisfaction. It saves heartache and hassle and perhaps most important of all from an environmental perspective, it saves waste.