A favorite time of year is upon us; it’s Fall! With the new season comes warm drinks and knit sweaters, jacket weather, baking, Halloween candy and costumes, apples, pumpkins, and all things cozy. As we transition into the new season, there may be pressure to purchase new fall fashion or run out to get a pumpkin spice latte. It’s important that we think mindfully about the waste that can come with different fall activities and find ways to reduce our plastic and foam waste, just like we did during Plastic Free July. Luckily, we’ve come up with some suggestions on how to have a plastic and foam-free autumn season. Read on to find ways you can be more environmentally friendly this season:
Thrift your fall outfit
Avoiding the pressure to purchase a whole new wardrobe every season can be difficult. Before you run to the mall to buy a new fall sweater or shacket (a sweater/jacket combo), first evaluate your closet and remind yourself of what you already own. If something no longer fits or cannot be repaired, head to your local thrift store to donate or trade for new items. The volume of clothes that Americans throw away each year has actually doubled in the last 20 years. Thrifting knit sweaters, jackets, boots, and flannel items is a simple way to reduce plastic waste from fabrics and avoid clothes from going to the landfill. Textiles can take over 200 years to decompose in the landfill and many fabrics contain plastic fibres that pollute our land and waterways. Although many brands like H&M, Patagonia, and Madewell are working to fight textile waste, thrift stores should be the place for you to pick out your fall clothes first to avoid adding any additional waste to the cycle. This is also a great place to pick out your Halloween costume.
Decorate Plastic & Foam-Free
Adding the touch of the season to your home can be plastic and foam-free as well. In fact, by picking out natural elements to decorate your home with, it can be very eco-friendly and zero waste. Here are some items you can decorate with:
- Real pumpkins (pie pumpkins make great decor and can be used in baking later too!)
- Forage for acorns, pine cones and leaves on a fall hike
- Gourds and squash
- Fill your home with scents of the season by making your own using cinnamon sticks, apples, cloves, and star anise
- Create paper decorations like a fall bunting banner or a door wreath with recycled egg cartons
- Use twigs in your centerpiece to decorate
- Use leaves as place setting cards – write your guests’ names on them using a gold pen
Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice
Skip the store-bought pumpkin spice lattes and apple cider and make your own at home. Many of the paper cups that cafes serve their drinks in are still lined with plastic, making them difficult to recycle. Making your own at home is easy and cost-effective. Carry your warm drinks in your reusable stainless steel travel mug on a fall hike, canoe trip, or on a plastic and foam-free picnic.
Go Apple Picking
Head out with your reusable mug and support local by heading to an apple orchard that does a pick-your-own apple service near you. Bring your own wooden basket or reusable cloth bag. Not only are you supporting local, but you’re also avoiding the plastic produce bags at the grocery store.
Bake Fall Sweets
Once you’ve spent a morning or afternoon picking apples, head home and bake your own apple pie or apple crisp. Again, you’ll be avoiding packaged sweets from the grocery store. It’s a bonus if you shop for the ingredients in recyclable paper packaging. Eggs are one item you can find in the dairy section that comes in 100% recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable paper packaging. This is perfect for baking your apple treats!
Aside from making apple treats, soup is another great way to spend time in the kitchen this fall. Many other fall produce is in-season like butternut squash, acorn squash, pumpkins, and other vegetables. Use these seasonal favorites to make your own soups. Making a big batch of soup is one of the best ways to spend a fall day and once it’s ready, you can use glass storage containers and mason jars to store your soup in. It also makes a great homemade gift for a neighbor or friend and avoids plastic and foam packaging from other store-bought soups.
Yes, the weather cools but there is so much to see in the Autumn! If the leaves change color in your area, there are many ways to spend the day taking in the sights and sounds of fall without purchasing anything in plastic and foam at all. Some ideas:
- Go on a hike on a local trail
- Look up at the trees and identify different leaves
- Going canoeing on a local lake
- Go wine tasting at a vineyard near you – bring your own reusable stainless steel wine cup
- Watch the sunrise and sunset
- Play football with friends
- Make a bird feeder with pine cones and seeds, hang it outside your window
Whichever way you choose to spend your time outdoors, ensure you never leave anything behind. If you have waste from hiking or picnic snacks, take out what you brought in and properly dispose of it at home. Always carry your own reusable water bottle or coffee mug on your adventures out of your home and remind your friends and family to do the same!
Spending time with friends and family this season can also be a great time to share your plastic and foam-free habits. Start the conversation around the dinner table and ask which habits they’ve picked up too! Remind them that only 9% of plastic gets recycled and 79% of plastic and polystyrene foam ends up in the landfill. Talk about ways everyone can do their part to reduce waste and live more sustainably.
Are you ready for the fall season? Tell us what else you’re doing to reduce your plastic and foam waste to #ditchplasticpackaging. Find us on Instagram and Facebook to share your ideas!