Falling leaves, cozy boots, pumpkin-spiced everything — there is a lot to love about fall. My favorite part? The cool, crisp weather that begs for my family to be outside and active! And it’s easy enough to celebrate many of autumn’s traditions while still minimizing waste and conserving resources. Here’s how I do it:
1. Make your own pumpkin spice drinks. Every October, all the coffee shops start touting pumpkin-flavored concoctions. Instead of using fuel driving to the coffee shop, not to mention using a disposable cup and lid for your beverage, try making your own version at home. We’re a fan of the version from The Kitchn, which has actual pumpkin in it! And if you want to get really sustainable, pick up an extra pumpkin from the pumpkin patch and make your own pumpkin puree for drinks, baked goods, and other pumpkin-flavored goodies! It’s surprisingly easy and you won’t end up with a stack of tin cans to recycle after you enjoy your treat.
2. Do something with all those raked leaves. Falling dead leaves that threaten to bury lawns can be a nuisance, but they’re also a valuable (and free!) resource to improve your gardens. Invest in a leaf shredder, borrow one from a friend, or rent one from a hardware store. The shredded leaves will break down more easily when used to mulch flowerbeds, amend soil, or add to your compost. By using the leaves on your property rather than throwing them in the trash, you’ll be conserving resources. (Of course, if your area offers yard waste or, during fall, leaf pickup, you can also take advantage of those services!)
3. Go leaf-peeping via bicycle or foot. Everyone loves heading out into the country to view nature’s leafy color show, but that doesn’t always mean you have to drive there. Ride your bike to view leaves, and you’ll be able to experience 360-degree views while saving gas and minimizing air pollution from vehicle emissions. Check to see if any of these fall bike rides are near you, or simply head to your nearest state or national park for a hike or a bike ride.
4. Invest in a pressure cooker. Long-simmered stews are quintessential when the temperature dips. And a pressure cooker, which excels at preparing saucy dishes like stews, can help you conserve gas by slashing the amount of time required on the stove. I’m a huge fan of my Instant Pot, which can conserve energy by as much as 70 percent when cooking or steaming foods. There are some great recipes on the website Pressure Cooking Today.
5. Refresh your fall wardrobe. Tempting as it may be to go on a shopping spree for a closet full of the latest styles, it’s much more environmentally responsible to take a look at what you already have on hand. Polish your shoes and boots and, if necessary, take them to a professional cobbler for any repairs, like getting a worn heel replaced. Use a de-piller to get your sweaters looking like new, and invest in a natural stain remover to wash stains out of your favorite shirts and trousers. Once you’ve taken stock of what you have, then you can head to the store (or better yet, a consignment shop!) to add a few trendy new pieces to round out your fall look.