It’s no secret that the holidays are the most wasteful time of the year with waste production rising 25% between Thanksgiving and New years. That’s about 1 million extra tons per week. A lot of that comes from decorations, wrapping paper, food and even gift returns.
It’s so common when shopping for our friends and family to grab a gift receipt in case something doesn’t fit quite right or isn’t to their liking. I myself have returned gifts in the past. But there’s actually a pretty hefty cost when it comes to returning things. Have you ever stopped to think about just what happens when you return things? Let’s talk about it.
What happens when you return things:
According to CBC, Canadians return about $46 billion worth of goods every year. And you wouldn’t be crazy to think they’d go back on the shelves to be resold. Not crazy, just wrong. Even the unopened items.
There’s often so many product and items that get returned that retailers simply can’t resell it all. They don’t have enough room as it is let alone with all the new products constantly coming in.
Items that are damaged or defected in any way, even products that may have been opened are more often than not destined for the landfill. Other items often get passed on to liquidators and sold for a fraction of the price.
Online orders are a little trickier. Especially for giants like Amazon, Walmart, Target, etc. These returns are almost always guaranteed to head straight for the landfill. These aren’t losses for these retail giants. Just a headache that needs to be passed on as quickly as possible. And you know what? It’s even cheaper for companies to destroy or send these items to landfills rather than to store them and try to resell them. Because yes, they will shred, burn or otherwise destroy items as well.
This is why it’s so so important to give consciously. Give people what you know they want or need. Something that will be put to good use. And when in doubt, you can always get a gift card. It’s far better than running the risk or a return ending up shredded or in a landfill.
It’s also important to be mindful of what we do when we receive something not quite right. Please think twice about returning something. You could try selling it or giving it away. As a last resort, you could donate it to a thrift store but those items are never guaranteed to not end up in landfills either.
We need to be mindful all year long but especially around the holiday season. This season thrives on consumerism and overconsumption and we want our purchases to make a difference, not just be another wasteful stat.
Thank you so much for reading and for striving to be a little more conscious this year. Please don’t forget to share this post and follow me on Instagram for daily low waste living inspiration!