As the weather starts to cool down, the leaves begin to turn red, and students start preparing for the new semester, it is clear that we are soon entering the season of Fall. While this does bring new activities and trends, it is important to be mindful and to try to minimize waste and one’s ecological footprint during this exciting new season. This article will discuss ways a person can be sustainable in this upcoming Fall season.
Fall is a great season for many reasons, but one of the most important reasons is that it starts the harvest season. From late September to early December, fruits and vegetables planted in the spring season that grew in the Summer heat are now ready to be harvested. When indulging in these recently harvested fruits and vegetables, it is important to shop locally. At grocery stores, opt for fruits and vegetables that are grown in Canada as it supports local communities, encourages sustainable agriculture and puts less demand on the environment to transport fruits and vegetables from out of the country. People should also try to buy products that are not packaged in plastic and bring their own bags to the grocery stores, instead of using the plastic bags that they provide for fruits and vegetables. These actions help improve a person’s carbon footprint, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and helps limit the amount of plastic waste that enters the environment.
Instead of buying from grocery stores, people can also go to their local farms and orchards that allow individual picking. This is a fun activity that helps support local communities, limits plastic waste and allows people to be intentional with their purchases and only buy what they need, limiting food waste.
Later in the Fall, people can also purchase their Halloween pumpkins at local farms. Pumpkins are multi-purposeful squash with an infinite amount of uses. Once done being used as decoration, the insides can become an ingredient for foods, the seeds can be eaten or used to plant your own pumpkins for next year, and the pulp can be stockpiled for broth, pureed, juiced or used for any other type of food (Prakash, 2020). When you have used every part of the pumpkin (or as much as you want to), it is important that it is composted and not tossed in the garbage. Unfortunately, when pumpkins end up in landfills, they produce methane gas (Hubbard, 2022). To avoid this, composting the pumpkin back into the soil will allow its nutrients to help other plants grow (Hubbard, 2022).
Seasonal drinks and foods are also a big part of Fall. Almost everyone is familiar with the pumpkin-spiced drinks available at coffee shops when the temperature drops. Though there is nothing wrong with consuming these drinks, the plastic cups that these drinks are offered in are bad for the environment. Instead of using a plastic cup, go to places that provide mugs for in-house drinking or bring your own reusable mug. You can also try to get the drink without cow’s milk and add vegan milk instead.
When purchasing warmer clothes for the season, try to shop sustainably. Look at what you already have before you go and buy more. If you are trying to replace a damaged item, see if you can fix it yourself or take it to be fixed. If new clothing is necessary, try to buy products made of more sustainable materials like organic cotton, linen or silk or shop at stores that can prove that they ethically produce their products and pay their employees.
As the leaves change colours, they fall, which increases the amount of outdoor maintenance people do. Although it is a common practice and helps with neighbourhood uniformity, think before you decide to rake up your lawn. Dead leaves benefit soil by promoting healthy microbial activity (Zanotti, 2021). Mulching leaves is also a good idea, as they can be piled onto flower beds and tree bases to insulate the soil during harsh winters (Zanotti, 2021).
Another important tip is to cherish and enjoy the Autumn seasons that we have now, as with climate change worsening, there will be shifts. This past July was the hottest month ever recorded, and the extreme heat can impact the amount of foliage (Czachor, 2023; Buxton, 2021). Heat also impacts the process that makes the leaves change colour, called leaf senescence, which may delay the changing of colour in some trees or stop the leaves from changing colour before they drop from the trees (Buxton, 2021). There is little that individuals can do to have a significant impact on climate change, as large corporations are mostly to blame. Still, small actions and encouraging others are two ways a person can try to help.
Buxton, R. (2021, October 1). Feeling like there’s less fall foliage this year? Blame climate change. Katie Couric Media. https://katiecouric.com/news/sustainability/fall-foliage-climate-change/
Czachor, E. M. (2023, August 14). July was the hottest month on Earth since U.S. temperature records began, scientists say. CBS News. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/july-hottest-month-on-earth-records-noaa-nasa-report-temperature-climate-change/
Hubbard, H. (2022, November 3). Ready to toss out your pumpkins? Here’s how to keep them out of the landfill. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2022/11/03/1133765219/pumpkins-halloween-recycle-compost-cook-feed-wildlife-donate
Prakash, S. (2020, October 23). Don’t toss those pumpkin guts—here are 7 ways to use ’em. Food52. https://food52.com/blog/11634-how-to-use-the-pulp-of-a-pumpkin
Zanotti, E. (2021, September 14). 10 Sustainable Lifestyle Tips for this Autumn. SDG Monitor. https://www.sdgmonitor.co/post/10-sustainable-lifestyle-tips-for-this-autumn