Polling – Presents, Wasteful Consumption and Repairs

by Tom Swann

Key Results

The Australia Institute surveyed 1,417 Australians about presents, waste and repairs.


  • Three quarters of respondents (75%) like to buy Christmas gifts
  • However, 42% would prefer others not to buy them gifts, compared with 47% who disagreed with this idea.
  • Around a third (31%) said they expect to get gifts they won’t use or wear, compared with 41% who said they didn’t.

Wasteful purchases and the economy

  • Most (62%) disagree that buying stuff that doesn’t get used is good way to create jobs and improve the lives of Australians.
  • Around half (48%) agree it is better for the economy when people buy fewer things that don’t get used, compared with a third (31%) who disagree.

Repairing instead of buying again

  • Respondents were asked which items they repair (paid, or self-repair).
  • For all items, half or more repair them at least “sometimes”, but only a minority of people repair most items “most of the time” or “always”.
    • Least often repaired are (always or most of the time):
      • kitchen appliances (24%);
      • shoes (21%);
      • and clothing (29%).
    • The exception is cars, which most people (70%) get repaired always or most of the time. (8% said they never or rarely fix their car.)


  • People on average chose close to three items they repair themselves at least sometimes.
  • Most people don’t fix most items themselves even “sometimes”, but in each case some people do.
    • The most often self-mended items were clothing (49%), tools / gardening equipment (43%) and bikes (37%).
    • The least often were shoes (25%) and kitchen appliances (19%).
    • Men were more likely to fix a car, tools or bikes. Women were much more to fix clothes (61% female, 36% male).
  • 12% never fixed items themselves but paid for repairs.

Why not repair more? 

  • Cost is the main reason discouraging people from repairing things (68%). Being unsure it will work was next (37%) and time and inconvenience (30%).
  • People said they were much more likely to repair items if they were covered by a warranty (65%) or if repairs were cheaper (61%). Nearly everyone said they were at least a little more likely to repair for all options, including convenience and family or friend recommendations.

Support for measures to reduce waste

  • Most people support measures to reduce waste and encourage repairs, with support in each case unusually strong. This included:
    • Taking GST off repairs (67% support, 33% strongly)
    • Increased mandatory warranties, even with higher upfront cost (75% support, 30% strongly)
    • A plastic bottle levy to fund a nationwide cleanup (70% support, 35% support)

Full report