The holiday season is in full swing and most of us are scrambling to find the perfect presents for family and friends. 

Gift-giving is one of the oldest human traditions dating back to the stone age, but with the advent of consumer culture, this special ritual has become increasingly commercialized. As soon as the holiday rolls in, we are inundated with marketing telling us that to really enjoy the holidays, we need to splurge. No wonder America's holiday spending has consistently ranked among the highest in the world. The average consumer spends an average of $942 on holiday gifts every year - a significant increase from the past few years.

But three years into the pandemic and the highest inflation rate in 40 years, many families are struggling to make ends meet. The pressure to buy holiday gifts is just one more stress for those already suffering, and too often, the spending has to come from credit cards, rather than disposable income. According to a recent report, 31% of 2021 U.S. holiday shoppers who used a credit card to pay for gifts still haven't paid off their balances.

Our fixation on gift-giving would be justified if it truly enriched lives, but the statistics say otherwise. 53.1% of people report receiving unwanted gifts during Christmas. As a result, nearly $16 billion is wasted every year!

This comes at a huge cost, not only to household budgets but also to the environment. When you consider the amount of resources — water, land, carbon emissions — and human labor that goes into making unwanted gifts, it's hard not to be horrified.