With Labour Day upon us, the unofficial end of summer is here. Vacation time is over, and my kids are starting school tomorrow. Sometimes it feels easier to be green in the summer, with a more laid-back schedule and more time spent outdoors. My principles are put to the test once I get back to the swing of things in September and find myself driving more, packing school lunches every day, organizing activities and facing colder weather.
If you can relate, here are a few ways you can keep your lifestyle green, while the world around you starts to show off those fall colours.
Staying Green in the Autumn
Preserve FoodIf you visit the local farmers' market right now, you'll experience the bounty of the harvest. All too soon, though, that bounty will start to fade away. You can continue to enjoy the summer's fruits and veggies all year long, though, if you do some preserving. If you've never tried canning before it can seem intimidating, but if you give it a go you may find that it's both easier and more fun than you expected. If that's too much for you to start with, you can freeze some green beans, dry some herbs, or pickle some cucumbers. For newbies, I highly recommend the National Center for Home Food Preservation website, which has instructions for pretty much any kind of preserving you'd like to do.
Put on a SweaterAs autumn arrives we stop worrying about cooling our homes, and start worrying about heating them. One great way to reduce your environmental footprint at this time of year is to turn down the thermostat so that your furnace is running less (or not at all). If you're cold, you can follow your grandmother's advice when she said, "Put on a sweater." In fact, great sweaters are one of the best parts of fall. If you don't have enough warm clothing, hit up your local second-hand shop. The bonus is that by shopping second-hand and turning down the thermostat, you'll be saving money, too.
Limit the ActivitiesMy daughter is one of those kids who loves extra-curricular activities. She's willing to give almost anything a go, and she enjoys being active. If I didn't limit the number of classes and clubs my kids participate in, I could easily find myself driving all over town every weekday, dropping off and picking up and trying to eat when I can. This isn't only expensive and stressful, it's not exactly great for the planet, as we burn a lot of fuel and find ourselves picking up fast food just so that everyone can get dinner in the mad rush. Also, kids miss out on the opportunity to explore their imaginations and play outdoors when all their time is structured. Set limits on activities, and keep the season sane.
Think Ahead to the HolidaysOkay, okay, I realize I'm sort of jumping the gun on this one. At the same time, the holiday season will be here before we know it. If you'll be shopping second-hand or making gifts, you'll need to plan more time for preparation than if you're just heading to the mall. The earlier you start, the easier it will be, and the fewer last-minute gifts you'll have to buy when you realize there's just no way that you can re-purpose three sweaters into homemade stuffed animals in the next 12 hours. Ditto for Halloween. If you want to make your own Halloween costume, now is the time to start thinking about it, because I can say from experience that staying up until 1:30am the night before is just not a whole lot of fun.
What about you - how do you keep green as the days cool? Share your tips!