‘Tis the season for regifting


Photo: Shutterstock

This form of gift-giving can be meaningful, when done right

Hoped for a new wallet under the tree last Christmas but ended up with a mug instead? And whatever happened to that photo frame you received but never used?

There's no doubt that the season of giving is a joyful one, but it can also create large amounts of waste by encour­aging a "buy, throw, repeat" culture. Still, that doesn't mean you have to forgo it entirely. This holiday season, instead of buying brand-new gifts off store shelves, why not - dare we say - regift?

Give more, waste less

"Regifting'' refers to the passing of a present you've received to someone else. We've all probably done it at some point in time; less likely, admitted to doing so. After all, won't that make us seem like unappreciative giftees and cheap gifters?

But let's think about it this way.

Unwanted gifts tend to end up in landfills or are left in a dusty, forgotten corner at home, never to be seen again (Wheezy the toy penguin from Toy Story, anyone?).

When you regift thoughtfully, however, you do the environment a favour. By giving these items a new lease of life, where they could be put to better use by someone else, you save them from being dumped and burnt, thereby reducing carbon emissions.

So, don't discount that unwanted gift that's been lying around since last Christmas. It could be a great present for someone else.

A present with a past

To help people feel more comfortable about gifting unused or unwanted items, homegrown start-up Carousell launched its reboxing initiative in October encour­aging Singaporeans to give their pre-owned items to someone else who would better appreciate them.

People with items to regift can simply list their own box on the on line marketplace's app for free. To win a box, users post a comment on these listings detailing why the items matter to them - showing how unwanted items can have a second go at life. The start-up then picks the best comment and declares a winner.

The campaign was fuelled in part by Carousell's in-house survey, which revealed that 79 per cent of Singaporeans struggle to let go of unused items. This was despite the fact that 95 per cent felt the topic of waste was a serious issue that needed to be addressed.

Carousel! co-founder Lucas Ngoo listed a MacBook on which the first version of his app was built. The winner was a budding entrepreneur with an interest in coding.

Together with my fellow co-founders Siu Rui and Marcus, I used this MacBook to code and build the first version of the Carousell app that was launched back in August 2012. This laptop means a lot to us and I hope to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs with it.

- Lucas Ngoo, Carousel! co-founder

first version of the Carousel app

The first version of the Carousel! app was built on co-founder Lucas Ngoo's MacBook. PHOTO: CAROUSELL

The initiative has since canvassed support among many. More than 3,600 people from Singapore and the Philip­pines have taken part in the reboxing giveaway to date, sharing why these pre-owned items matter to them.

Such initiatives put a fun spin on the age-old tradition of gift-giving. More importantly, they are inspiring a new and meaningful way of gifting - one that forges new connections, creates new possibilities and lessens the burden on our planet.

DBS and Carousel! are collaborating to offer financial products and payment services on Carousell's platforms. For instance, customers enjoy a seamless experience when they pay with DBS Paylah! on the on line marketplace. DBS also participated in Carousell's Series C fund-raising round last year, as part of the bank's plans to expand its ecosystem partnerships.

The (he)art of regifting

Tips to perfect this form of gift-giving, which can be meaningful when done right.

  • DO think about the person on the receiving end


    Only regift something useful that you would have bought for the intended recipient. In other words: If your mother does not like cooking, she'll probably have no use for that non-stick frying pan you got last year.

  • DO keep a distance


    You probably want to avoid regifting a present to the person who gave it to you. If you can't remember who gave you the item, regift it beyond your circle of family or friends.

  • DON'T pass on damaged goods


    Ideally, the item should be unopened with all its bits and pieces intact. That's unless you are part of an upcycling gift exchange, where it may be fine to give away a used item that's in good condition.

  • DON'T be impersonal


    Add your own touch with a handwritten card or gift tag. Make sure the item can be regifted. There's nothing (or very little) more embarrassing than a recipient opening a gift and finding your name inscribed on it.


This content is produced in partnership with ST Life.

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