The holidays have come and gone. The songs have been sung, decorations put away, food long ago eaten. Now comes the age old question, where did I put the gift receipts? It’s understandable if you need a different size or if Pantone 448C really isn’t your color, and you’re not alone. According to CNN Money, 7% of Millennials do return their holiday gifts and another 15% to 30% of all online gifts will be returned, accounting for $32 billion dollars in refunds. My point being, you probably opened that box that had the *fill in the blank* inside and decided on returning it. The store will most likely take it back, but will think twice about putting it back on the shelf. That’s because it’s often less expensive for the retailer to dispose of a good than it is to sell it again. For example, let’s say you were planning on returning that $80 Pantone 448C sweater your sweet, dear, twice-removed relative gifted you. The retailer will give you back your $80 but since it doesn’t look exactly fresh off the press, they’ll either put it back on the shelf for 75% off, bringing the price down to $20 dollars, which would be a hypothetical loss of $10 dollars, or they could use the space they would have used for the sweater to sell something more eye appealing.
So in the end, where does the sweater end up? Sadly, it might end up in a landfill. Think this is bad? Online returns are slightly worse because of the carbon dioxide shipping the item both ways releases, contributing to climate change and air pollution. What can you do?
Well, many stores will gladly give you a refund for an online order at a brick-and-mortar location. Do you have an item from Amazon that needs returning? Stop by your local Kohl’s and they’ll gladly help you out through a partnership they signed last summer. This won’t solve the issue of the possibility of your returns ending in a landfill, but you’ll reduce your carbon footprint.
However, if your mind is set on preventing your gift from ending up in a landfill, why not donate it? A local thrift store will be more than happy to accept it. You could also re-gift the item to someone who might appreciate it more than you.
No matter what you decide to do with your gifts, don’t forget to thank the people who gifted them to you for thinking of you over the holidays!
Student Social Media Intern
1st Nor Cal Credit Union