Don’t you just love fall? The slight chill in the air, the crisp crunch of freshly fallen leaves under your feet, the invasion of pumpkin spice everything…there is just so much to love about this season.
One of the reasons fall is the favorite season of many people is because of the transformation happening outside. Mother Nature is quietly beginning to settle down for a rest, but not before she says goodnight with some spectacular fall beauty. This is the time of year I like to sit back, reflect and give thanks for the natural wonders that surround me.
What better way to say thank you to Mother Nature than by making a commitment to be greener? Fall offers plenty of opportunities to switch over to more ecologically friendly behaviors. If you want to be a bit more kind to the earth this season, start with this list of easy tips for living green this fall.
For Travel and Leisure
Don’t feel under pressure
As temperatures drop, so does the air pressure in your tires. Tires that aren’t inflated properly will reduce the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. Once cold weather hits, take your tires in and have them inspected. Ask what the best fall and winter psi is and check them regularly through the season.
Travel with Class
With Thanksgiving so close you can almost smell the pumpkin pie; more people will be heading to the roads to visit friends and family. Gas tanks will be filled more often during the next couple months than any other time of year.
As we are celebrating, Mother Nature is growing weary. Save her some stress by adopting a greener mode of transportation. Carpooling is great, but not always practical in long distance adventures. Consider taking the bus or train, which will provide you the opportunity to relax and take in the scenery all while reducing your footprint.
Get some fresh air
As warm weather fades away, many of us tuck ourselves inside, determined not to stick our heads out until the first thaw. Instead of hibernating this year, head outside, even if you must force yourself out the door.
Getting outside is good for you and the environment. Couch potatoes use more electricity, more fuel for heat, eat more food and pack on more holiday pounds. Get off the couch, unplug, and breathe in some invigorating fall air.
For the Love of Food and Seasonal Gatherings
Local Seasonal Foods
This year, when you are planning your holiday meals and deciding what should be on the snack table at your next gathering, skip the chip aisle and look at what goodness your local farmers have in store for you.
People are more likely to eat locally during the summer when produce selections are abundant, but reach toward bins of produce that has traveled hundreds of miles once cooler temps hit. We understand that sometimes, you really need a tomato, but look at your local resources and discover how local foods will help you create some of your best fall and holiday memories yet.
Why make a trip all the way to the craft store to spend money on fall colored garland or scented pine cones when Mother Nature offers these beauties to you for free?
This year, skip the plastic branches and fabric leaves. Instead gather pinecones, acorns, twigs and beautiful fall foliage and create decorations that add a touch of fall warmth to your home, naturally.
Keep Scraps Out of the Trash
When you are preparing your holiday meals, don’t automatically throw everything into the trash. Composting is a great way to save landfill space and save money on fertilizer for your indoor plants and those beautiful fall colored mums on your doorstep.
If a full-sized compost bin isn’t an option for you, small countertop bins work great in small spaces and produce the perfect amount of compost to nurture your indoor plants all winter long.
Preserve Your Harvest
Now is the time to set aside a weekend and devote it to preserving your harvest. Even if you don’t have a harvest, canning and preserving gives you the opportunity to take advantage of fall produce prices, like the great deal you got on a bushel of apples last weekend. Now is also the perfect time to hit up roadside stands and end of season farmer’s market to grab the tail end of what local farmers and gardeners harvested this year.
If you have never canned before, don’t let yourself be intimidated. Gather a few friends, or check your local listing for canning and preserving classes that walk you through the process. Not only does preserved garden goodness taste better, you can also gift your canned creations. I know I would love a jar of homemade preserves over another sweater or scented candle any day.
Reduce Food Waste
Do you know that Americans waste about 40% of the food they buy? Some of this is from cooking too much and overfilled plates, but most of it comes from spoilage.
This year, make a commitment to being kinder to the environment and your wallet. Here are a few tips for reducing food waste in your own home.
- Buy smaller amounts. Even though larger quantities might seem more economical, you are actually losing money if the extras just go to waste. Change your strategy and buy only what you know will be consumed before it goes bad.
- Take the time to learn how long certain foods stay fresh and what the signs of spoilage are. If something has gone past its peak in flavor, but hasn’t crossed over into being spoiled, find a way to use it a new dish. How do you think banana bread was invented?
- Freeze or preserve foods that you know you won’t be able to eat before they go bad.
- Choose smaller portions. You can always go back for seconds, but chances are nobody will want to take home holiday meal leftovers that have spent time on your dinner plate, meaning extra generous portions only end up in the trash.
- Ask your local food pantry what their policy is on fresh and perishable donations. Some will take them on an as needed basis. Soup kitchens and organizations that offer free community meals are also great options for donating what you know you won’t be able to eat.
For A Greener Fall Home
Stock Up on Green Cleaning Supplies
Sure, there is a lot of cleaning that happens before fall and winter time family gatherings take place, but I should be honest. For me, fall cleaning is just as therapeutic as spring cleaning. During the fall, we are preparing for the end of a cycle. It is time to go through, clean up and clean out anything that doesn’t serve a purpose in our lives. Plus, the closed-up environment is a breeding ground for dust and allergies, so staying on top of the cleaning game is good for your health to.
Now is the time to stock up on your favorite green cleaning supplies, find new ones that you love or get to mixing your own. During the fall and winter, non-toxic cleaning supplies become even more important because we usually don’t have the benefit of open windows and good air flow to help filter out chemicals.
Go through donate, repurpose
Speaking of therapeutic cleaning, now is the time to get to work going through closets, drawers and every nook and cranny of your home that collects stuff. Why do it now? I have a few reasons.
First, you are less likely to want to fill a clean, uncluttered home with useless junk. If you have taken the time to thoroughly go through your home, you are less likely to spend money on new things that you don’t really need. That giant fall centerpiece on clearance becomes less attractive when you realize it will interfere with your new clean, uncluttered vibe.
Secondly, you are less likely to add useless items to your holiday wish list. Why? See above.
Also, this is the time of year that local charities start seeking out more donations. Your old coats and warm cozy sweaters can do someone else a world of good.
Finally, you can’t regift it if you don’t know it’s there. Ok, maybe regifting isn’t your thing, but why not repurpose something into a gift someone will love. This is not only a green trick, but it saves you money and most importantly, lets you give a gift that was crafted with love and personalized specifically for the recipient.
Give your furnace a checkup
Once a year in the fall, you should have your furnace professionally cleaned and tested. A clean, unblocked and properly working furnace is going to be more energy efficient. Also, a clean and properly working furnace is less likely to cause a fire. Keep safe, warm and green this winter by starting out with a health furnace.
Block the flow
Have you ever been out, say in a restaurant, and had someone fresh from the chilly outdoors walk by you? Did you notice that you felt a bit of a chill, even though an open door was nowhere in sight?
This is because cold absorbs heat. When something is cold, it takes in the heat around it until it reaches the temperature of the environment around it. The problem is that heat isn’t an infinite resource, and too much cold stealing it will eventually lower the average temperature. Ok, enough with the chemistry lesson, what does this have to do with being green?
Cold air wants into your home because it wants to absorb your heat. It will take every opportunity to find even the smallest crack, space or weak spot to make its way in and in the process, lower the temperature in your home. What does this mean? More resources used and a higher utility bill.
Now is the time to go through and caulk all the spots that need caulking. If your windows need replacing, see what kind of end of season specials you can find on ecologically friendly options. Although plastic isn’t exactly environmentally friendly, placing plastic over your windows, especially if it is reusable, is a greener option that consuming more in electricity and gas to keep your home warm. Check weather stripping and block cold drafts from the bottom of the door with a thick, rolled up towel.
Rearrange your furniture
Ready for a change? Rearranging your furniture is a strategy that not only brings a fresh element to your home, but when done properly can make your home more energy efficient as well.
Begin by moving furniture out of the way of ducts and vents. While these may go unused during most of the year, it is important to have them uncovered for better air flow and fire protection during the winter.
If you have wood or laminate flooring in ground level rooms, a few throw rugs will make the floor less chilly to walk on in bare feet, plus they will help trap in the heat.
If you have an outdoor wall that is particularly drafty, be strategic with the placement of large furniture items. Bookcases, entertainment centers and large beautiful wall coverings placed against a drafty wall will help to insulate the room.
Now, that you have helped Mother Nature feel a little better before her long winter’s rest, take a little time to pamper yourself. Go breathe in some of that fall air, and then snuggle in for the night with a mug of steamy cider or cocoa. Fall is only here for a short while. Appreciate every second.