Remembering The Forgotten R: A Holiday Guest Post by Melissa Teske

Teske with husband Dustin (courtesy of GB&Y)
I have loved reading Melissa Teske's blog, Green Beans and Yam, since its inception back in April. Aside from being all about veganism, Melissa always writes her posts in a fun, informative way and treats her readers as friends. Best of all, Melissa always encourages treading as lightly on the Earth as possible, and I couldn't love her more for that. I'm stoked to get to share a little something from Melissa just in time for the holiday season. It just may change how you view gift giving this time of year. Enjoy!

After Christmas last year, my husband Dustin and I sat down and had a long talk about gift giving and decided that going forward we wanted to focus more on spending quality time with family on special days and less on gifts.  As we all get older, we just don't need all the clutter of this accumulated stuff and it really puts a lot of stress on our planet to keep buying things we don't need.  We can’t forget about our old friend Reduce, the forgotten “R” in the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra.  

We let our families know about our plan and it went well all year.  We made an effort to share a meal or engage in an activity with the birthday guy or gal and now here we are back to Christmas again.

Now, we didn’t want to suck all the fun out of the day and be considered party poopers by our families, so we jumped at the idea my husband’s sister had.  She suggested we all pick names and then buy the person a gift keeping within three criteria: 1) it must be under $5, 2) it must be used, or 3) it must be made with recycled materials.  The gift she gave us last year, a gardening book she no longer used, would be a good example and was perfect as we were starting to plan our garden.  Playing a game like this can make the gift even more thoughtful rather than just buying something off a list someone provides you.  

Here are a few other ideas for Christmas or birthdays that I thought of to keep the spirit of gift giving alive while still being mindful of mother earth:

-         The tried and true white elephant game
-          Favorite recipe trade
-          Pick names instead of buying for each person in your family
-          Make a donation in someone’s name to a charity (like a farmed animal sanctuary!)
-          Make the person a meal or take them out to eat
-          Do an activity together the person enjoys (hiking, yoga class, etc)

Another Reduce idea is making reusable gift bags.  A friend gave me a bottle of wine in one of these bags last year, and another friend told me that her Grandma has been giving them gifts in the same reusable bags since she was a child.  What a great way to save all that wrapping paper from ending up in the landfill!  You could either ask for the bag back or, even better, let the person keep it and “pay it forward” on their next gift giving occasion.

Here are some pictures of the gift bags my mom and I made this weekend (if I’m being honest, I didn’t help that much – I told my mom I felt like I was running a sweatshop just standing around while she was bent over the sewing machine in concentration).  In case you’re wondering, this requires little in the way of sewing skills.  My mom is good at many things, but an expert sewer she is not.  We didn’t have a pattern and didn’t stress about them being exactly perfect, but they turned out really cute!  

If you have any additional ideas please leave Lindsay a comment and be sure to stop by our blog to say hello!

Thanks to Melissa for this post! To learn more about Melissa and her blog, visit


Minette said…
I love it Lindsay! I've adopted one of the newly rescued horses at Animal Acres on behalf of my Mom & Dad as their X-mas gift!!! Great suggestion (and far better than sweaters, in my opinion!!)
Anonymous said…
Babysitting gigs-great gift for those with families-it's free and it's the equivalent of offering a gold mine to parents!