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Proper Green: Re-Gifting is Green

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Re-gifting can be a touchy subject, but it’s definitely a green one! Here are some tips to help you re-gift greenly and tactfully.
Dear Proper Green,

What are the “rules” of re-gifting? One of my children got me a wonderful new coffee maker for Mothers’ Day, but my husband and I already replaced our old one a few months ago and I really don’t want either of them to go to waste.

-Melanie, CA

Dear Melanie,

To re-gift or not to re-gift, that is the question. Remember the saying, it’s the thought that counts? You’ve probably shared that with your children from the time they started bringing home arts and crafts projects in elementary school up until the time they left the nest. Well, the same rule holds true when it comes to re-gifting. The trick for us is making sure that you’re mindful of the environment by making sure that nothing goes to waste while also taking the gift-giver’s feelings into consideration, too.

With Mothers’ Day right behind us and Fathers’ Day not too far down the road, now is a perfect time to think about how to re-gift items that just weren’t quite right for us (for whatever reason). These same tips also work for birthdays, holidays and other special occasions that we celebrate by exchanging gifts.

As eco-friendly Recyclebankers, we all want to make sure that we’re avoiding waste and clutter, but in this situation, we also have to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, too. Here are some things to consider, to help you make the right call:

  • Home Goods: Many people have been in Melanie’s position. Maybe it was a new microwave instead of a coffee maker. No matter the gadget, the redundancy certainly creates a problem. So, can you re-gift it? Certainly! As long as you haven’t broken the manufacturer’s packaging seal, you won’t have to convince someone that the item is “as good as new” because it actually is still brand new. Of course, if the gift-giver is a frequent visitor to your home — as your children likely are — you might consider donating your old machine and brewing with that brand new coffee maker. Depending on the personality of the individual who gave you this gift, you may want to avoid the headaches or heartaches that come from what might seem like an unappreciated gesture.
  • Clothing: Not your style? Not your size? Not a problem! If the item you received would totally work for a friend or family member’s wardrobe, then pass off that cool piece to them. You could also look into selling it at a second-hand store for the chance to trade for something more to your taste or, as a last resort, donate it to a thrift store to make sure that it doesn’t end up taking up space in your drawers or closet only to be eventually discarded.
  • Store Credit: Sometimes the best way to re-gift something is by trading the item in and picking out what you really wanted yourself. If your present came with a gift receipt, then you can always exchange it for the just-right item — the gift-giver’s kind act is still appreciated and nothing’s gone to waste. If you didn’t get the gift receipt yourself, you can always ask your friend or family member for it and graciously explain why you need to swap it with something else at the store.
  • Consider the Occasion: If you’ve got a brand new toaster oven that will be just perfect for a lovely bride-to-be, be sure to think twice before bringing this to her bridal shower. If the person you received the gift from might also be in attendance, this might lead to a very uncomfortable moment. There’s nothing wrong with making sure that an item doesn’t go to waste, of course, it’s just important to be mindful of who might be able to spot the present as a re-gift. Of course, if there are no overlaps in the social circles, then re-gift away: You’ll be helping out that happy couple and making sure that nothing is wasted, so you can’t find a better win-win than that!

Do you have any ideas or opinions on re-gifting? Share them in the comments below!
About Proper Green

Proper Green is Recyclebank's green advice column. From promoting good manners in a green world (because ideas about what constitutes proper behavior and the environment are still evolving) to providing easy ways to make your every day more sustainable, Proper Green aims to help smooth the way with answers to questions that are important to you!

Do you have a question for Proper Green? Send inquiries to Please note: Questions may be edited for clarity and length.

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Proper Green
Proper Green

Proper Green is Recyclebank's green advice column. From promoting good manners in a green world (because ideas about what constitutes proper behavior and... more

  • Josephine A. 2 years ago
    Just remember who gave you the gift and what group you were with when you got it. Then re-gift it. I've done the same thing many times, You always get something that you don't like or can't use. Another way of recycling.
  • Toni L. 3 years ago
    swell glad I read
  • Tina M. 3 years ago
    My sister and I have begun the tradition of exchanging at least one gift at Christmas that is designated Recycled or Re-gifted. The idea being...we're giving the other person something that we like, but don't use or need. It's a fun thing to do and the regifted items are actually pretty special because they meant enough to the other person that they didn't simply donate the item to charity and instead chose to give it to someone special.

    I received a cupcake maker a few years ago from my aunt. It so novel and cute...but impractical when you're baking a full batch of cupcakes (they bake 6 at a time). So this year, I'm making my nieces (ages 11 and 9) little cupcake-themed aprons, plus the cupcake maker, with the full disclosure (to my brother) that the cupcake maker is a regift. Part of the gift will be baking cupcakes with the girls using the new cupcake maker. I'm not at all embarrassed and think it will be a memorable gift.

    Just a thought!!

  • Daniel R. 3 years ago
    Store credit seems like a rather safer than sorry option. I like it!
  • Lorine C. 3 years ago
    There is nothing wrong with re-gifting. I have been doing that for over 40 years and no one has ever complained about what they got. They have always loved it.
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