Fall is my favorite time of the year, with the crisp weather, the hearty meals to cook (chili and pot pies and roasted veggies, oh my!), and the beautiful color show Mother Nature gives us with the brilliantly-hued trees.
And with every change of season, there are new and different opportunities to be environmentally responsible. To ensure that your Fall is as green as possible — even with all those gorgeous red and orange leaves — challenge yourself to the following:
1. Wait as long as possible before turning the heat on. Autumn is ideal for saving energy, because during sunny days, you can open the windows and let in the crisp breeze to cool and freshen your house, and probably turn off the A/C for good. See how long into the season you can go before flipping the switch on your thermostat to turn on the heat. Instead, wear cozy sweaters or sweatshirts and slippers or socks around the house, and at night, put another blanket on the bed. You’ll be saving on your energy bill and minimizing your carbon footprint! When you do finally bite the bullet and turn on the heat, be sure to program your thermostat so that it’ll be more energy efficient.
2. Walk/bike more. If the summer heat made it too uncomfortable to walk or bike when you were running errands, now’s your chance to get your fill of self-propelled transportation before winter sets in. On nice days, walk or hop on your bike to go to school, work or errands, and encourage family members and friends to do the same. It’s a great way to work exercise into your schedule, as well as to cut down on pollution and fuel use.
3. Make cozy Fall dishes, in energy-savvy ways. Pull out your slow cooker to make the hearty stews, braised dishes, soups and casseroles that seem so right this time of year — slow cookers use less energy than an oven, particularly if you don’t leave them on the “keep warm” setting for too long. Stovetop or electric pressure cookers are another energy-efficient option; they cook food in a fraction of the time as conventional methods, and they are 25% more energy efficient.
4. Use a rake instead of leaf blower. When you’re clearing all those leaves from your lawn, do it the old-fashioned way: With a rake. Not only will you get a workout, but it’s a more eco-friendly method since you won’t be using electricity or fuel. Be sure to add those leaves to your compost pile!
5. Stay healthy. Get your flu shots, take your allergy pills, and eat lots of vitamin C-packed citrus fruit. If you keep yourself from getting a cold, it means you won’t be working your way through copious amounts of tissues (incidentally, experts don’t think it’s a good idea to compost or recycle used tissues). For those sniffles that are simply unavoidable, be sure to buy recycled-paper tissues, and at least recycle or repurpose the cardboard box they came in.