Sustainability: Embrace de-gifting

The time for giving and receiving is nearly upon us. If you’re one of the many Australians who feels the urge to buy random gifts rather than arrive empty handed over the festive season, you may like to consider the staggering $798 million price tag of those unwanted Christmas gifts.

A 2010 survey by the Australia Institute found that one in four Australians expect the gift we give at Christmas will end up in the back of a cupboard once the festivities are over. Impulse buying or being guilted into obligatory gift-giving is only going to make retailers and banks happy. ‘’Around 1 million Australians are spending money they don’t have to buy presents they’d rather not give,’’ says Dr Richard Denniss, executive director of the Australia Institute.

Here are a few ways to cut down the wastage this festive season:

Supersize secret Santa. One big gift is better than lots of little unwanted gifts. Enlist your family’s help to avoid waste by agreeing that each member buys one gift of the same value as the usual little gifts you exchange. Place all names in a hat, and spend all your Christmas money on one person.

Take out the guesswork. Ask every member of your family for a list of gift ideas. Sure it might take out the surprise element but it will help avoid waste.

Be charitable. Use your Christmas money to help those in need. The Australia Institute found that four in five people surveyed would prefer money donated to a charity than get an unwanted gift.

Buy for kids only. The magic of Santa and gift giving is really for the kids, so why not just buy for them and leave the adults out of it?

Made with love. A handmade gift will cut down on packaging and transport miles, plus it also has the added benefit of saving you some dollars. Head to Alfalfa House in Enmore on Wednesday 18th December at 7.30pm for a workshop on DIY Christmas gifts including relaxing heat pillows, delicious infused oils and flavoured salt. Bring along a small donation to cover the cost of the materials. To RSVP, visit

Buy local. Support the community you live in by purchasing locally made Christmas gifts and food. Do some research online for suitable businesses in your area or visit the local markets – Marrickville Markets is a great place to start. You can also purchase locally produced food at Alfalfa House: 113 Enmore Rd, Enmore.

Words: Kelly Hender, volunteer at Alfalfa House.

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