Make Your Favorite Fall Activities More Sustainable
Happy October, y’all! Are we excited or what?!
I know that fall officially started a few weeks ago, but September is a summer month in my book. So, now that October is here, I can finally embrace all things fall – cool weather, changing leaves, cozy sweaters, and pumpkin everything (duh)!
This also includes some of my favorite activities – pumpkin patches and hikes among the aspens are at the top of my list. I have avoided apple orchards this year for a few reasons (which are at the bottom of this post).
But, since apple picking is a sustainable, family fun business in other areas, I have included it. After all, school field trips to the apple orchard were a highlight of my childhood!
I love that autumn activities are centered around being outdoors and soaking up the last of the warm sunshine before we hunker down for winter.
While you’re enjoying your favorite fall activities with family and friends, keep in mind some of these sustainable tips. Many autumn activities are already somewhat ‘green’ and BONUS: you can help support local businesses!
I’m planning to visit a pumpkin patch next weekend and I am. counting. down. the. days! I can’t wait. I am always drawn to the ugly (I mean ‘beautiful’) pumpkins and gourds. Odd shape? Weird colors? Yes, please.
Do your research about the pumpkin patches in your area. Who are the owners? Do they grow other vegetables? If they have a petting zoo, how are the animals treated? Pick your favorite sustainable pumpkin farm and have a blast.
This is a great opportunity to educate your family, friends, and kids about sustainable agriculture.
Bonus points if you can stock up on squash! When properly stored, squash stays good well into the winter. Local, organic spaghetti squash in January? Hell yeah!
Pumpkin carving is another favorite of mine. Ok, so you might be thinking that all fall things are my favorite. You’re right.
As you scoop out your pumpkin ‘insides,’ don’t forget to save the seeds for roasting. Roasted pumpkin seeds are such a delicious, healthy snack that can last well into the winter months (if you don’t eat them by the handful, like me).
Compost the rest of your pumpkin scraps. And, when November rolls around and we say goodbye to pumpkins all together, toss them right in a compost pile. Or, if you’re a superhero, you can make your own pumpkin puree.
I have a history of buying way too many apples when visiting an orchard. There are so many varieties and I want to try them all! So, trust me, I get it – but, realistically, how many apples will be eaten in your home? Don’t overdo it. If you do have extras, make some yummy treats at home! Apple pie, apple crumble, apple cinnamon muffins – alright, alright, my mouth is watering.
You will want to research the best local, fair trade apple orchards in your area. Apple orchards also sell dozens of yummy treats! Who is making those treats – is it really local? Also, how are the treats packaged? I’m not going to tell you to skip the plastic package of apple cider donuts, I can’t even resist those! But, we can always be more mindful.
And don’t forget to bring your own reusable produce bags or basket.
Fall shopping – decorations and Halloween
Second-hand stores are a great place to find cute, cheap baskets for trick-or-treating. Halloween costumes, too! Or, search your friends’/parents’ closets – you could be surprised (or terrified) what’s in there. Old, costume jewelry and 70’s outfits make great, original Halloween costumes. Another option – swap last year’s costume with a friend.
There are also dozens and dozens of DIY Halloween crafts on Pinterest. Check them out before you buy brand new autumn decorations.
Soak in the last bits of warm weather with an outdoor picnic. Pack your meal in reusable containers and a cute basket. There’s no need to bring disposable cutlery and plates, either. Bring your day-to-day kitchen utensils and dishes, or check out these awesome bamboo cutlery sets and glass containers.
Admire the changing leaves
While admiring the fall foliage is probably on everyone’s to-do list, you don’t have to drive far to do it. You can drive to a nature preserve, and then get. out. of. the. car. Use your own two feet! I know, I know, groundbreaking.
But, seriously, walk around. Go for a hike. Breathe in the fresh air. You won’t regret it – I promise.
This may not be your favorite activity, but it’s definitely worth noting. No one keeps their fallen leaves on their lawn (even though it is good for the soil). The best solution is to place the leaves on top of your garden. This will add nutrients to your soil and protect it from harsh temperatures. Win, win.
But, if you are looking to get rid of the crispy leaves on your lawn, I am not here to tell your otherwise! Rake ‘em up! Place your leaves into biodegradable trash bags or paper lawn bags. I see curbsides littered with plastic garbage bags full of leaves – eek! Leaves are compostable, but not if you store them in plastic.
One last crucial tip – jump in the damn pile of leaves!
Even if you don’t manage everything on this list, you can always buy from local businesses! Pumpkin patches, bakeries, corn mazes – a lot of these are run by a family or a small group of people, not big corporations. So, help a local family put food on the table and cut your driving emissions – two birds with one stone.
Now that you know some ways to make your favorite activities more sustainable, I’ll tell you why I’m steering clear of one – apple picking. First off, apple season started in August this year so we are mostly appled-out. We will never eat all the delicious apples that we bring back from the orchard. Additionally, I have to mention that growing apples on the front range of Colorado is not easy, nor very sustainable. While the climate may be great for apple trees, the water supply is not.
If you know anything about the Colorado River, or water rights, you probably know what a big deal both are in the western states. The Colorado River no longer reaches the ocean – it has dried up. So, there are a lot of water rules and regulations in Colorado, and it is unsustainable (sometimes impossible) to grow hundreds of water-loving apple trees in this dry climate. The late frosts in April/May have only made matters worse.
For these reasons, I’m all about the pumpkin patch this year!
What fall activities are you looking forward to the most? My pumpkin patch day will consist of selecting the ugliest gourd, carving a pumpkin, drinking hard cider, and laughing with friends. I cannot wait!
We can still strive for a ‘green’ lifestyle even though the leaves are orange. How will you make your fall activities more sustainable? Did I forget your favorite activity?! Let me know what it is!
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