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Environmental Impact of Gift Returns

The 5 Billion Pound Environmental Impact of Holiday Gift Returns

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The holidays tend to put a large amount of strain on us in general, but also on our environment. In fact, 5 billion pounds of gift returns end up in landfills every year. An astonishing number.

Even more mind-boggling is that Americans spent $15.2 billion on all those unwanted gifts.

So how exactly do 5 billion pounds of gifts end up in landfills?

When you return an item, the chances it ends up being restocked and resold are surprisingly small. The logistics to process a return can be quite cumbersome for retailers, not to mention expensive.

Have you ever requested to return an item only to be told to keep it instead of mailing it back? This is sadly becoming a common practice, especially for smaller retailers. The cost to handle the return can be more expensive than simply having the customer keep the item.

What goes into processing a gift return?

The transportation and energy costs involved in returning an item are quite substantial when you add up all of the returns made in a year.

In 2020 alone, $428 billion in merchandise was returned in the U.S..

National Retail Federation and Appriss Retail

When you ship an item back, the shipping service must deliver it back to first be inspected, credited back to you, and then repackaged if it’s going to be restocked.

If the item is going back onto shelves there are more steps involved. The item must be transported once again back to the store from the warehouse/processing center. And the inventory added back. Multiple steps for a retailer to manage and pay for.

So how can you make an impact to reduce the waste that comes from retail returns?

How using Giftster helps to reduce gift returns

Giftster was founded on the idea that the tradition of gifting shouldn’t be a wasteful one.

Giftster helps families gift responsibly, reducing gift returns and the amount of trash ending up in our landfills.

How? By making and sharing wish lists between friends and family, members both give and receive gifts they actually want or need. And specifying sizes, colors and other important details reduces the chances an item will need to be returned or exchanged.

And the best part? It’s completely free to use.

Instead of having to wait in line at FedEx or a store to return a gift you can spend your time doing more enjoyable things.

Gift-giving was meant to be a joyous tradition. We’re doing our part to keep it that way.

Happy gifting!

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