If you ask people whether or not it’s appropriate to give a used item as a gift, you’re likely to get strong opinions: ‘Yes, of course!’ or ‘No way. How tacky.’ And probably in equal measure.
As recently as ten years ago, most people were in the ‘No way’ camp. Even now, many deem giving a used item as a gift to be poor etiquette. And I believe the subconscious psychological motivator is the giver’s desire to appear ‘well off.’ Giving a used gift could imply that the giver can’t afford to do more.
But today, the ‘Yes’ camp is growing because the ‘No way’ camp is switching sides as they become more environmentally conscious. The stigma of the ‘poor, tacky’ giver is being replaced with a new badge of honor: Giving used gifts now reflects the giver’s choice to be more socially responsible person.
In October 2019, Accenture released its 13th Annual Holiday Shopping Survey, which analyzed responses from 1,500 U.S. consumers. Gift cards, clothing and footwear were the most common items holiday shoppers planned to purchase for others.
Consumers will give up perks in order to be environmentally responsible
The study illuminated the growing trend of “responsible retail,” as shoppers expressed more concern about the environmental and social impact of their purchases on the planet. Today’s increasingly conscious consumers give preference to companies that not only talk about social responsibility, but actively and tangibly prove it through their business practices. Consumers want products that are made in sustainable or ethical ways, and that offer eco-friendly options, such as products that are free of packaging.
Secondhand clothing is becoming a cool gift idea
Many are already aware that the textile industry is the second highest most polluting industry behind oil and gas. The growing awareness of fashion waste now makes the idea of giving used clothing not only acceptable, but laudable. Almost half (48%) of the research respondents said they would consider giving secondhand clothing as gifts. And more than half – 56% – said they would welcome gifts of used clothing for themselves.
So if you’re in the ‘No way’ camp, I encourage you to take the long view: We must purchase fewer new clothes because if we don’t, the fashion industry will never reduce its production. There are millions of beautiful, gently used clothing items that deserve a new home, a longer life and a reduced carbon footprint.
Next time you need to buy a gift, visit a consignment store and take a chance. Give the recipient something unique instead of a new gift from a mall store that 50 of her closest friends are also wearing.
Tell her that not only did you want to give her something original, but you also care enough about the planet to buy secondhand. I bet she’ll appreciate it way more than you think.