What to do with your unwanted Christmas gifts

We’re familiar with the nightmare before Christmas , but what about after ?

Each year, over a jaw-dropping third of people (37 per cent) send their unwanted Christmas gifts to landfills . Overconsumption at Christmas is not only detrimental to our wallets, but it also contributes to a staggering 100 million rubbish bags over the festive period, according to Biffa Waste Services.

Following the wake of COP26 , research from Gumtree revealed that despite 80 per cent of the nation stating they care about climate change and environmental issues, just two in five people have made an active effort to have a waste-less Christmas.

Of the four in five planning to purchase brand new items such as clothes, toys and home appliances, three quarters will be replacing an existing item. A third of these people will dispose of the old item once replaced.

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Rather than dumping unwanted gifts straight in the bin, here are five far better ways to dispose of them:

Donate to a charity

Charity shops across the nation welcome Christmas gifts with open arms.

“The funds raised from the sale of a handbag or dress, for example, could provide a bed for the night for someone living on the streets,” Kelly Castelete of The Salvation Army Trading Company said.

“A board game or toy could provide support to help run our nurseries and pre-school playgroups. A smart jacket could provide a family in need with a box of groceries.”

Donations can be sent to any of their shops or donation centres across the UK.

As well as raising funds, donated items will be made available to local churches and community projects and to those who have struggled to afford basic essentials over the Christmas period.

“For new, unused and boxed items, there are little restrictions,” Kelly explained. “We do ask that people do not donate 18+ certificate items, and toys have a CE mark. You can also donate clothing, hats, handbags and shoes to any one of our clothing banks, including second-hand items.”

You can find your nearest Salvation Army shop at .


While re-gifting divides the nation, it essentially comes down to pride vs planet on a larger scale.

A gift you might not find useful – or you perhaps already own – could be on somebody else’s wishlist. It’s much better being in the hands of someone who will make use of it rather than going to waste in a landfill.

If a certain someone keeps on buying gifts that you simply don’t find practical, maybe it’s time to have a quiet word.

Sell them on

One person’s trash is another’s treasure. It’s incredibly simple to list items nowadays – all it takes is a short description, a few snaps and voila!

There’s a catalogue of dedicated selling apps such as eBay, Depop, and Gumtree , as well as spaces on social media like Facebook Marketplace for a quick sell. Buying and selling from these apps are a great way to tackle overconsumption.

If unwanted Christmas gifts create clutter and you simply want to ‘get rid’, Gumtree calls on the UK to embrace the circular economy and list unwanted goods for free.

Hannah Rouch, Chief Marketing Officer of Gumtree, said : “ We’ve found that people do truly care about climate and environmental issues, however, there’s a disparity between this and their actions.

“Gumtree wants not only to help people discover Good Finds to be savvy, but to lessen the impact that waste and overconsumption has on our planet so we can continue to enjoy this planet for many more Christmases to come.

“This festive season, we’re calling on the UK to consider whether they can swap the bin for re-commerce and list the things they don’t want for free so that someone else can enjoy their pre-loved item instead of it heading to landfill or contributing further to emissions by incineration.”

Recycle, recycle, recycle

It’s not just wrapping paper, Christmas cards and the notable amount of alcohol bottles that can be recycled. No, you can also recycle unwanted gifts too.

Organisations such as Recycling For Good Causes offer a unique service that takes unwanted presents off your hands, recycles them and turns them into valuable funds.

Return or exchange

Take advantage of the gift receipt. If something isn’t quite your style, there’s no harm in exchanging for something you can make use of.

If there isn’t one at hand, just be honest. It may initially seem like an awkward conversation to be had, but simply explain that it’s not quite right.

“By law, if they ordered online they have 14 days after delivery to decide if they want to cancel an order, and then a further 14 days to send the item back,” Megan French, consumer expert told Country Living . “If this window has already passed, it’s worth checking if the store has an extended Christmas returns policy.

Equally, you can do your part by including a gift receipt when giving a present.

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