10 Things You Can Reduce, Reuse, or Recycle This Fall

by Danielle on September 19, 2010

fall pumpkinReduce Your Energy this Fall, Reuse Things in Your Home, and Recycle What’s Left

Recycling is an all year activity, but in the fall, there are a few things that you may not have thought of that can be reused or recycled. While in the summer we might be more apt to have summer cookouts, vacations, and outdoor activities, fall activities have their fair share of consumption with back to school shopping, holiday shopping, and the first kick of the thermostat to heat up your home. Let’s go over some of the things this fall that you might be able to reduce, reuse, or recycle and cut back on your energy bill and the amount of things you throw away on this post.

  1. Reduce Trash at Football Games. As football season comes into full swing, there’s a lot to look forward to. Events, parties, and the ultimate party, the Super Bowl. As you prepare for the season, the tailgating, and the festivities, see what you can do to lessen what you throw away. While it might be a pain to bring your own reusable plates, there are eco friendly options like¬†biodegradable plates available, as well as compostable utensils. You can’t get much easier than that. For game day litter, there’s also biodegradable trash bags, too.
  2. Reduce Back to School Shopping Waste. The need to buy for back to school isn’t something that can be skipped, it’s a must. New clothing, bigger sizes, and new writing utensils are all things that you’ll have to purchase for your little ones (or big ones) as they head back in August or September. How can you make this process a little greener? Bring your own reusable bags when you shop, buy organic whenever you can, and buy to last. Spending a couple of extra dollars on a higher quality item that will last longer might save you money in the long run. You can also try your hand at a green online shopping experience, too.
  3. Make Your Own Halloween Costumes. Who says you have to buy something expensive to make a lasting impression? The best costumes ever created on the planet have been homemade. They’re the ones that win competitions, the ones that you remember the most, and the ones that actually might cost the least. These are passed down in families, cherished, and used again and again. The process of making the costume is something that you’ll also remember forever, and your kids will definitely appreciate it when they get older. Who knows, you might be passing it onto them for your own grandchildren to use someday!
  4. Clean Out Your Old Stuff Before Winter Hits. When the cold weather comes, you won’t want to clean out your old stuff, but you’ll need to. Think about the added stuff that the holidays brings, ¬†including storing gifts to give, places to put your children’s new gifts, and the holiday decor around the home. If you can clean out now during the fall, you’ll have more room, and more things to donate to shelters before the cold weather hits. This might prevent you from hastily tossing away things during the holidays when you need to make room last minute.
  5. fall leavesReuse Your Fall Leaves. If you have a mower with a compost bag, try taking the bag off and letting the leaves fall into the grass. It provides necessary nutrients to the soil which will help grass grow next year, and adds a little bit of protection in the winter from heavy snow. It’s also a lot less time consuming to mow than it is to rake your entire yard. All in all, it’s less trips to the dump, less trash thrown away, and more energy saved. Win win win.
  6. Check for Energy Leaks. As the cold weather approaches, you might find yourself reaching to turn up the thermostat on those chilly nights. Before the real chill sets in, check your home for energy leaks by using a thermal leak detector. You’ll find energy sucking cracks, crevices, window leaks, and door drafts immediately, saving you hundreds (perhaps thousands) of dollars in heating bills when winter comes. You might even want to try it out on family member’s homes, too. When you find the leaks, plug them up by caulking, use a door snake draft stopper to seal out winter winds, or even install new energy efficient windows to really make a dent on your bill (though the cost of new windows may not pay off for a few years).
  7. Recycle Your Thanksgiving Leftovers. Yes, food can be recycled, too! If you’ve ever heard of the famous Thanksgiving turkey sandwich, then you know how great “food recycling” can be. If you’ve had a particularly large feast with loads of leftovers, invite friends or family over that didn’t attend Thanksgiving day to help you eat some of the leftovers. Beats throwing it away!
  8. Reuse Gifts Bags from Last Year. Have you seen the price of gift bags? If you’ve ever had to buy some last minute from stationary stores or gift stores, you can tell how big the markup must be. A large gift bag can cost upwards of $7, with smaller bags usually ranging from $3-4. Why throw them away? They’re usually in perfectly good condition after you’ve opened the gift. Save the tissue and bag, and store it away in a closet until next year. That way, you won’t be throwing away mountains of gift bags, and you won’t have to buy new ones, either. Encourage your family to do the same! Store them away in a sealable storage container and store it under your eaves, and you’ll have it all ready for next year.
  9. Reduce Your Thermostat by One Degree. One puny degree can actually add up to big savings on your bill, and you’re not likely to notice the affect of one degree in the fall. Every degree equals roughly a 3% savings on your energy bill. Wear a sweatshirt or sweater and turn it down a couple more degrees if you’re brave enough.
  10. Roast Pumpkin Seeds from Jack O’ Lanterns. If you’ve never had pumpkin seeds, they’re pretty delicious, and actually very good for you. Omega-3 fatty acids, B-vitamins, vitamin K, and calcium are just a few of the healthy things that pumpkin seeds contain. When you scoop the innards from your jack o’ lantern, save them and separate the seeds. Read this guide on how to roast pumpkin seeds.

Intro photo of fall pumpkin by D. Sharon Pruitt, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0. Fall leaves photo by spoonselli on flickr.

Think you can handle some of the things on this list? If you can, you’ll have a much more energy efficient and earth friendly autumn season. Here are few more resources you might find useful:

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