Why Must We Give New?

2009_given_present_4I’ve been invited to a bridal shower for the brother of my daughter-in-law. All well and good. My daughter-in-law and granddaughter will be going so it will be a nice way to visit. The bride and groom, like many, have set up a wedding registry to help guests select a useful gift.

So far so good, why give something the bride or groom won’t use.

I get it that helping out the formation of a new household is helpful. There are so many things needed to run a home that it is overwhelming to have to go out and buy everything to start. It is great for a bunch of people to chip in and help out the formation of the new domain, but don’t most people marry after they already have their own household these days, and don’t most couples live together prior to marriage and must it all be new?

And why is it OK for us to ask for things? Begging is not condoned, yet isn’t a registry just a formalized begging mechanism? I’ve even seen one registry that asked for monetary donations so the couple could go on an exotic vacation!

Why is it gauche to give used gifts that are in new condition?

Thoughtful gifting involves considering the needs and desires of the person(s) receiving the gift. Do they need it? Is it something they want? Will they use it? Is the gift in great working order and of good quality?

None of the above has the word ‘new’ in it. So why do most of us feel compelled to go out and buy a new thing-a-ma-jig for a gift when we have that same thing-a-ma-jig in like new condition sitting around unused?

If you’ve had a household (married or not) for any length of time, you know that some of these types of items just miraculously grow in the deep cluttered depths of your closets over the years. Sure, maybe you pulled them out once or twice and tried them out, but that was it. There they sit, gathering dust, still in their original box, unloved and unused. If you don’t have nearly new small appliances or household goods, perhaps you have quality art work or appreciating collectibles which the couple would enjoy or maybe a family heirloom which they have admired for years, or a piece of fine furniture you no longer have room to house.

Does the bride want crystal goblets and champagne glasses? Got’em years ago and they sit in my china cabinet, unused, now that family dinners no longer happen here at our house.

Do they want an apple peeler? Saw one in the box, brand new at a garage sale the other day for $5.

How about deceased Aunt M’s restored antique oak rocker – you’ve enjoyed it for years, let them enjoy it for awhile.

Let’s establish a new tradition.

Lots of brides and grooms have multiple showers – some for friends and peers and others for relatives.

For those family showers, why not have each shower guest bring several nearly new items, items from their collections or family heirlooms that would be useful or interesting for the couple. The shower host could set up an area for guests to put their items, then on the day of the shower, the couple could shop the area – picking those items they wanted and leaving the rest (which could then be donated to charity or the shower guest could take it back home).

Instead of stupid shower games, host a potluck lunch, letting guests bring food and drink.

This would have several benefits:

Saves money for the beleaguered family members who often get hit up multiple times. Those aunties would probably applaud and enjoy going to this kind of a shower! No silly games, great savings on gifts AND they get the opportunity to pass along that unneeded second electric can opener!

The host would also enjoy NOT having to provide fancy food, party favors and etc. The entertainment would be good food, good company and watching to see what the couple selects.

Helps the environment because we would be salvaging an already produced item.

Reuse, according to the EPA has the below benefits

  • Prevents pollution caused by reducing the need to harvest new raw materials;
  • Saves energy;
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change;
  • Helps sustain the environment for future generations;
  • Saves money;
  • Reduces the amount of waste that will need to be recycled or sent to landfills and incinerators;
  • Allows products to be used to their fullest extent.

What? You aren’t comfortable giving non-new?

Take a look at these two posts, asking for user comments on giving used gifts. It seems most of the commenters are OK with it.

Get Rich Slowly – Ask the Readers: Is It Okay to Buy a Christmas Gift from a Thrift Store?

Life Hacker – When Is It Okay to Give a Used Gift?

Really, I think it is a personal issue – do you as the giver feel OK giving slightly used gifts and do you think the recipient would be OK with getting something that is not brand new?

What’s your take?

photo by:

How To Go Green With A Minimum of Fuss

Recycle Reduce Reuse

Most of us want to do our bit for the planet and while it’s true that the biggest issues need action by large corporations and governments, there are lots of small changes that you can make in your own day to day life. But we all lead busy lives right? Here’s a quick guide to going green without too much effort.

Take time to become more aware

The first place to start is with awareness. You can start becoming aware in two ways. Firstly, you can monitor your waste by looking at the contents of your garbage. Are you buying too many over-packaged goods? Worse still, are you throwing out too much food? Are you using a lot of disposable paper products? And even worse, are they made from non-recycled paper to begin with?

Calculate what action you can take. Sometimes this can be as painless as changing the size of packaging. For example all those one pound packs of rice with extravagant packaging are easily replaced by getting together with friends and sharing a large catering size sack. This can save money too!

Going green can save you money

The other item to monitor is your bank statement. Check and see if all your monthly outgoings are really necessary. For instance, do you really use that movie / TV show downloading service? Maybe you could use a public library instead of buying books and magazines or borrow from friends. Is your spend on takeaway food a bit excessive? Cut down by planning meals in advance and get motivated to cook by trying new recipes and ingredients.

On the other hand, there are some areas worth spending more on from a green perspective. If you own a car, for example, make sure it is regularly maintained to ensure compliance with clean air emission regulations. Regular maintenance should also ensure good fuel efficiency.

Make use of community resources

Don’t become a hoarder but try not to throw anything out till you have tried repairing it, recycling it or offering it to a charity or Freecycle scheme. One of the best things about the internet is that you can find a home for most unwanted objects. Browse the web for opportunities to de-clutter and pass on unwanted clothes, books and so on. Take your obsolete computer – it may not have anything to offer you anymore but it may well be well good enough for a struggling student to write their essay on.

Recycle anything that will recycle

It can be surprising what value there is in little things. Cell phones for instance. Old, broken orunwanted cellphones contain valuable metals that if not recovered may well leach out of landfill with harmful results. And simply trading these devices in can make you money!

Another small item that can sometimes be recycled are e-cigarettes. The lithium batteries in these devices may be advertised as throwaway products but not recycling them can cause serious damage to the environment. One brand, blu, have their own scheme called blu cycle and recycling which allows users to send back their old products after use. Check out if your e-cigarette brand has a similar scheme.

These may all be small steps, but the road to a sustainable future depends on all of us setting off on the journey together.

Image by kevin dooley used under Creative Commons license.