Re-gifting touted as eco-friendly

Re-gifting was once the province of furtive cheapskates, but now more people are touting the economic and environmental benefits of passing along unwanted gifts.

The term "re-gifter" entered the popular lexicon after a character in the television show "Seinfeld" was accused of re-gifting a label maker.

Whatever term has been used through the decades, re-gifting generally carried a stigma. It was a practice done on the sly, with embarrassment awaiting anyone who got caught.

But today's economically troubled times and growing awareness of environmental issues have caused many people to rethink re-gifting.

In Ashland, members of the Center for Creative Change downtown held a re-gifting event on Friday in which they exchanged unwanted items. The center promotes alternative economics, sustainability and other causes.

Offerings at the re-gifting event included a pink Miss Kitty stereo, Christmas lights, boots, clothing, books, hair clippers and wrapped presents.

Catie Faryl, co-founder of the center, said re-gifting is an efficient way to reuse, reduce and recycle.

It's also a way to pass on items to people who can use them, she said.

"With so much unemployment in our region, it's good to give something to someone who can use it — instead of it sitting in your closet," Faryl said. "Re-gifting is necessary because people have too much stuff. Do I really need a pasta maker anymore? Isn't it selfish for me to hang onto these things?"

Faryl said re-gifting can help reawaken feelings of trust and generosity as community members give to each other.

Ashland resident Raven Playfaire said she has been re-gifting for years.

"Sometimes if I get a gift that I don't have a special affinity for, I give it away," she said.

Playfaire said she welcomed the opportunity to drop off a number of items for the center's recent re-gifting event.

"I just moved. I need to downsize. I wanted to give away stuff. Otherwise, I would just end up storing it," Playfaire said.

Ashlanders aren't the only ones recognizing the potential good that can come from re-gifting.

Other re-gifting events have sprung up across the country. There are also websites extolling the virtues of the practice and offering etiquette advice.

Money Management International, a Texas-based nonprofit devoted to improving lives through financial education, launched in 2006.

According to an MMI survey, half of adults now think re-gifting is acceptable.

However, the nonprofit does offer a number of tips for successful re-gifting on the website:

  • Never re-gift handmade or one-of-a-kind items, such as signed books or monogrammed items.
  • Give only new, unopened gifts.
  • Never give partially used gift cards with remaining balances.
  • Be careful not to re-gift the item to the original giver.
  • Re-gift only if you think the recipient will want the item.
  • Consider whether other options — such as donating the item to a charitable organization — are more appropriate.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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