Millions of tons of waste go to landfill every year, despite efforts to persuade us to recycle more. Of course there is an important green agenda here, but in these recessionary times it makes sense to cut back on waste and unnecessary consumption to save money. These changes in consumers’ habits have brought with them new additions to the Cambridge Dictionary.
One area where people are making changes is in giving presents. Have you ever received a gift from a dear old aunt that you realized straight away you would never wear? Well, someone else might love it! This is the world of regifting:
I regifted Dana those earrings I got from my boyfriend last year.
In the United States there is even a National Regifting Day, on December 18. There is a certain regifting etiquette that you would be advised to follow. Don’t use the item before regifting it (at least not so that it shows). And wrap it nicely, so that the giftee doesn’t suspect that you’re a cheapskate rather than someone who regifts for ethical reasons. Of course, try not to regift the gift to the person who originally gifted it to you. This is sometimes difficult, as you may not remember who those brown socks came from.
Other gifts that have a lower environmental impact include pre-loved objects. This implies that the gift had a rich and fulfilling life with a previous owner, but it really just means second-hand. Charity shops (UK) and thrift stores (US) are great places to buy pre-loved presents.
These are all examples of recycling. While recycling does sometimes mean breaking things down so that their materials can be recovered and reused, it can also simply mean reusing something, perhaps for a different purpose, so that you don’t have to buy something new. When new furniture, objects, etc. are made out of old or used things or waste material, this is called upcycling:
Through her lighting business she shares her love of upcycling and sustainable design.
Upcycled wooden packing pallets are the latest furnishing craze in Barcelona.
When it comes to unnecessary waste, supermarkets are some of the biggest culprits. Vast amounts of apples, potatoes, and bananas are thrown away every day because they’re the wrong size, look ugly or misshapen, or have slight blemishes – although still perfectly edible. In Britain, TV chef Jamie Oliver recently started a campaign to persuade supermarkets to offer this ‘wonky fruit and veg‘, as he calls it, for sale. Perhaps they won’t win any prizes, but who cares when they’re in your soup or smoothie?