The Gift Economy: Moving towards a Sustainable Lifestyle



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  • The gift economy

    Moving towards a Sustainable Lifestyle

    Your decluttering exercise at home may lead you to find a number of products, clothing pieces, accessories, books, shoes, etc. that you may not have used in ages.

    Our hyper-consumerist lifestyles have led us to buy lots of stuff all the time. However, every single time that we buy something new, we are contributing to the world ecological crisis.

    Most of these products we might use only for a short period of time before disposing it off, or it finds a permanent place at the back of the wardrobe or in the storage room never to be used again.

    Out of sight, ought of mind. Embracing a sustainable lifestyle to reduce environmental harm is not something everyone might be willing to do. However, embracing a sustainable lifestyle that would save money might be an option that many of us would give a thought to.

    And whatever be the motivation, getting people to buy less is a huge win for the world around us.

    So I have lots of stuff. You have lots of stuff.



    Sometimes we do not want or need that stuff. So how about we gift it to someone who actually wants it or needs it? That reduces the need for new products and our carbon footprint as well, and cuts demand.

    This is where the idea of gift economy comes in. However, the phrase might seem contradictory.

    It’s a gift, right? A gift is given free, so why the word ‘economy’.

    Gift economies are a way of exchanging different goods and services without the guarantee of future rewards or monetary benefits.

    You give something without the expectation of money or another good in exchange.

    Intelligent HQ provides an example of the gift economyImagine you are moving house.

    We all are aware that moving house costs money that we shell out to the movers and packers. It can be really expensive to hire a professional company to pack and move your stuff from one place to another.

    Also, in order to save money, it might not be feasible for you to do it on your own given the volume of things you own.

    So what is the solution?

    You might decide to get a group of friends to help. You might buy them pizza and drinks when you are all done.

    This is the gift economy – the exchange of a gift for help. Whereas, the packers and movers operating in the market economy, as the professional movers will not move your stuff in exchange for beer.

    They will want to be paid. Offering to help someone move, lending flour to your neighbour, potluck dinners, or letting your roommate borrow your car are all small ways the gift economy works.

    The unique characteristic of the gift economy is that here, the “currency” is social rather than financial.

    Such as the pizza and drink in case of the person moving house. The gift economy places emphasis on social norms and reciprocity, where relationships and bonds amongst individuals are fostered.

    The sustainability aspect becomes a by-product of the same.

    Technological advancements, the growth of digital platforms and social media websites have contributed to the expansion of the gift economy.

    Platforms like buying nothing, homesharing, freecycle, Couchsurfing or local Facebook groups gifting/giving away unwanted things for free, are all part of the gift economy movement.

    You give something without the expectation of money or another good in exchange.

    The gift economy might be a solution to our overconsumption lifestyles.

    And in today’s materialistic world, the idea of building social capital and a sense of community through giving and reciprocity may not be such a bad thing.

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