Autumn is my favorite time of year.
I love the changing leaves and cooler temperatures—and that crispness in the air that heralds hayrides, bonfires, apple picking, and a sense of magic.
I live in Georgia, so the season is always a little shorter than I like—cooler temperatures starting later and then plunging before I’m done enjoying it. There are things about fall that I love, but I’m also trying to be a more eco-friendly consumer, conscious of what I’m buying, where it comes from, and the greater impact of my purchases.
It’s not easy, I know—and every day, I find out something new.
No, it’s not easy, but it is nice to know that when I make an eco-friendly change in my life, I’m doing a little good. There are a few simple substitutions we can make in order to enjoy the things we love, yet still protect the environment.
Here are just a few:
1. Most scented candles are really bad for the environment. Toxic chemicals in the wax, lead-core candle wicks, and even artificial ingredients can damage the environment and air quality in our homes. I adore candles, particularly scented ones. So what can we do when we want to burn a scented candle that smells like fall without harming the environment? Wellness Mama’s blog recommends that we use beeswax candles and essential oil diffusers. Some soy candles are scented and are an eco-friendly alternative, although perhaps not as optimal as beeswax candles.
2. We can buy apples locally from farmer’s markets and at pick-your-own places that boost local agriculture. We can also purchase organically grown apples, free of pesticides, when we purchase them at the store. Our apple pies and other goodies will be so much better this way.
3. We can make sure that our morning coffee is organic and fair trade. These are important environmental issues, and most grocery stores offer a variety of options that are delicious. If our local store doesn’t, we can always buy online or find a local coffeehouse that sells organic, fair trade coffee.
4. We can join a co-op. Most communities offer a co-op where we can purchase seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables each week from local farms. Again, we can look for farms that do not use harmful chemicals. We can put seasonal fall foods on the menu in an eco-friendly way.
5. We can purchase our Halloween pumpkins from local farms, rather than buying them from the store—and we can burn beeswax candles inside them if we turn them into jack-o-lanterns.
6. We can make our own costumes or buy them used. We can also choose Halloween costumes that promote the environment or other causes. I’m going to be going as a feminist icon for Halloween, and I will likely cobble together a costume on my own, rather than buying one new. This is a great way to reuse items and even upcycle as a way of supporting a healthy environment.
7. As we get closer to Thanksgiving, we can choose to purchase our food locally and organically. We can make sure that the food we serve isn’t filled with hormones and other additives. We can look for packaging that is recyclable. We can also make sure that we don’t waste the leftover Thanksgiving meals. There are so many ideas online of ways to re-purpose the leftovers into lunches and other meals. Simply avoiding waste is a great way to help with the environment.
8. Instead of using disposable plates, cups, tablecloths, and napkins during the holidays, we can use regular china that can be washed and reused. Sure, it’s a little more work, but it’s a lot better for the environment.
9. We can purchase fall clothing that is made with sustainable materials. Look for local shops that offer sustainable and locally made clothing and shoes. We can research the companies we purchase from to make sure they aren’t using child labor or participating in other harmful practices. We can buy handmade scarves. We can donate our clothes to charities that could use them and buy used clothing more often than new whenever possible.
10. We can walk or bike to take advantage of the nice weather, rather than driving everywhere. I know with families this can be a challenge, but I like to walk my children to school or to the store sometimes, rather than driving. I’m lucky to live close enough to be able to do that, but in many communities there are ways to carpool or reduce how often we use our vehicles by combining errands into a single trip.
I love autumn, and I love the beauty of this world. I’d like to support it where I can. And I like to spread the word, so that others can also benefit from what I’ve learned. May it be of benefit. Happy fall, y’all!
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Instagram @ecofolks
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis