10 Sustainable Lifestyle Tips for this Autumn
As we transition from summer sunsets and beach days to crisp evenings and cozy sweaters, we could take advantage of this change of seasons to find new methods to be more conscious of our environment. Here are 10 easy ways to be more sustainable during the autumn season.
1. Leave the leaves
Falling leaves are the first signal of the arrival of the autumn season. Many see this as an additional chore, as they would tend to rake leaves and throw piles of them away. Instead, consider leaving leaves on your lawn. Dead leaves are an important part of the natural cycles of plants and soil. Plants emerge from the soil, die, decay, and return to the soil, providing carbon that contributes to the soil ecology and encourages healthy microbial activity. The removal of dead leaves from this cycle can actually diminish the soil's health.
Then, what are you supposed to do instead? Because large heaps of leaves can cause dead grass patches in your lawn, it would be ideal to mulch them and spread them evenly across your yard. Mulched leaves can also be piled around the bases of trees or on top of flower beds and gardens. This will help insulate the soil over the winter, protecting the soil's microbial life.
If you don't want to repurpose your leaves from your lawn and are really considering removing the leaves, think of composting them instead of throwing them away. If your city does not offer a composting facility, then consider starting a compost at home. Here is an article suggesting the best composting bins you can provide yourself.
2. Buy your sweaters from sustainable sources
Besides the picturesque scenery of falling leaves, another great thing about autumn is sweater weather. Indeed, the clothing options in this season are endless and many of us will want to revamp our styles after summer. Fortunately, the fashionistas can indulge this autumn while remaining environmentally conscious.
First, instead of buying a whole new wardrobe, think about repurposing your old clothes. You can also visit a local thrift store in your area, which can make you save a few bucks. You may have to dig a little, but with a little patience, you'll unearth some hidden jewels among the racks that no one will be wearing around (unlike all the fast fashion items everybody has!).
If you do give in buying new clothes, consider the materials that your clothing is made from to make sure these last a long time. Natural fibers, animal or plant based, such as cotton, silk, linen, wool and cashmere (organic only) are more durable than synthetic fibers, nylon or polyester, known to release microfibers polluting our waterways (1). Natural fibers are better for your skin and the environment.
Opt for some environmentally friendly companies to shop from.
Are you looking for timeless classics that can be worn every season? Outerknown has your back. Founded by the World Champion surfer Kelly, Outerknown is on a mission to sell clothes that last. Outerknown works with global partners who pay decent wages and produce in a sustainable manner, and the company meticulously lists each one on its website. They've also been a pioneer in several environmentally friendly firsts, such as recycled plastic trunks. We're thrilled that their collection of sweaters is made from recycled natural fibers, such as wool and cashmere.
Sezane, born in Paris, France, believes in environmentally friendly production that benefits both people and the environment. The brand began on the internet as a method to take out the middlemen and focus on environmentally friendly production that was as near to zero waste as possible. Sézane founded the DEMAIN charity effort in 2017 to help youngsters gain access to education and equal chances.
Based in the UK, People Tree is regarded by consumers as a pioneer in the fair trade and sustainable fashion movement. It’s long been one of the favorite places to shop for responsibly made fashion. For more than two decades, the brand has collaborated with fair trade artisans and farmers in developing countries to create a diverse collection of ethical and eco-friendly clothing. The collection includes everything from the perfect lightweight organic cotton sundresses to workwear, jumpsuits, yoga wear, and more.
3. Enjoy your seasonal drinks sustainably
Seasonal drinks in autumn come in a wide variety of flavours, from pumpkin spice lattes to hot apple cider.
Rather than using single-use cups that end up in landfills, use reusable mugs or travel tumblers. In fact, 16 million disposable coffee cups are used each year (2). Do the earth a favour and start taking your mug to your coffee shop! You can find various options for reusable coffee cups to buy, but we have made a selection for you below.
Huski Home is a family-run sustainability company that sells travel cups created by recycling rice husks. Why rice husks? Well, rice is harvested globally in mass quantities .When it is processed, the sheer volume of husks causes issues such as how to properly dispose of it as rice husks, if not ethically discarded, can be a biohazard. They have therefore created a non-toxic way to recycle these husks into mugs.
Ember is the world’s first temperature control mug, which allows you to keep your drink at temperature throughout the day. Their award-winning designs are beautiful and you can enjoy your hot drink wherever you are!
When ordering your favourite drink, also think about getting vegan alternatives rather than cow milk. If you didn’t know it already, vegan alternatives to milk such as soy, almond, oat and coconut milk have a much lower carbon footprint than dairy milk.
Finally, buy you drinks from the right people. Opt for a local coffee shop that has environmentally friendly practices and try to support the efforts of those roasters instead of going to the others who do not play their part.
4. Stay warm without using the thermostat
As the temperatures outside start to drop, we tend to directly reach the thermostat. Before you do that, make sure you layer with sweaters, thick socks and extra blankets. You’ll be saving energy and heating costs!
Additionally, think about giving your heating system a checkup before the cold really sets in. Having your heating system examined by a professional will allow you to know if it needs any tune-ups, filters to be replaced, or whether it's time to replace your old furnace with a more energy-efficient model. It really is advisable to do this now, while the weather is still bearable as having your heater go out on a freezing December night is never fun!
You should also consider taking measures to better insulate your home. Indeed, improving insulation will preserve warm air in your home and limit the quantity of cold air that enters it, saving you money and energy (3).
Doorways and windows are the most common drafty spots. Below you can find some recommendations to keep your house or apartment nice and cozy!
Window film. Windows can lose up to 10 times as much heat as insulated walls (4). Therefore, if they are not properly insulated, imagine the amount of warmth (and money) you are losing ! Purchasing removable window films can help you combat this during the months of cold. They can make a huge impact, and if properly cared for, most window films can be reused!
Curtains for insulation. Thermal curtains (or really thick ones) can help to better insulate your windows by keeping the warm air inside and preventing the cold air from seeping in. You can draw your curtains at night to add some extra insulation!
Door draft stoppers. If your door does not fit perfectly in its frame, gaps might form, allowing chilly air to enter. To tackle this, you can buy a door draft stopper, or if you are feeling creative, here is a simple and effective DIY to make one yourself.
Arrange your furniture warmly. Many older buildings have walls that are insufficiently insulated, allowing the cold to seep in and taking too long to warm up during the day to keep the room from cold at night. In order to insulate the area, line up heavy furniture like sofas and armoires or use quilts.
5. Make sustainable Halloween celebrations!
Halloween can be a spooky celebration, but there is nothing more scary than our current environmental impact! Whether you will be heading to a costume party, giving out candy or going door-to-door, you can celebrate Halloween this season while being environmentally friendly.
Are you planning on dressing up? Instead of buying a new polyester costume for Halloween (like every single year), use the old costume you were wearing years ago or swap one with a friend. You can also attempt to make your own costume. There are plenty of ways to make remarkable handmade costumes using recycled materials or things you already have around the house. On top of that, you can check local charity shops and thrift stores for needed additional props or accessories.
What about decorations? Think twice before buying single-use plastic Halloween decorations as most of it will end up in landfills and polluting our environment. You can either recycle last year’s decorations, or think of creative ways to convert recycled materials into decorations. Here you can find multiple ways to scare your family and friends with beautiful decorations from reusable materials.
If you will be planning on giving out candies to children, eco-friendly trick-or-treat options can include raisins or a trail mix. Also think about choosing the ones with the least amount of packaging (while remaining safe for kids, of course).
Are you more interested in carving pumpkins? Carving pumpkins is an autumn tradition in many countries, but have you ever done anything with your pumpkin seeds afterwards? These are highly nutritious, contain lots of fibers, antioxidants and other nutrients such as zinc and magnesium. You can find many recipes such as Spiced Honey Roasted Pumpkin Seeds or Turmeric Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. No matter what you do, make sure you at least compost any parts of the pumpkin that you do not use, instead of wasting it completely!
6. Declutter your home
As the summer craziness is over and rainy days become more present, it is the perfect time to have quieter days indoors and declutter your home. Recycle or upcycle whenever possible. Donate old clothes, tools, cookware, and furniture that you do not use (or sell them on platforms like Vinted).
While you do that, try to consider the environmental impact of each of your items. Is there any single-use item that you can replace with an alternative that is more environmentally friendly? This may shift your perception and help you make better buying decisions in future.
7. Inflate your car tires
Before the cold days arrive, think about checking the air pressure in your car tires in order to make sure that they are properly inflated. In fact, cooler temperatures lower tire pressure, which, in turn, lower fuel efficiency (5). Inflating your tires just takes a few minutes, and it is well worth your time!
If you are in the Northern part of the world, such as in Finland, you need to change your summer tires to the winter tires latest at the end of October. Black ice comes quickly when the weather gets cold and it often surprises the drivers on the road.
8. Move your plants indoors
As the cold temperatures arise, bring your plants indoors! This will protect them from cold temperatures, but also clean the air inside and brighten up the interior of your home. Houseplants can do a lot to improve your indoor air quality, especially in the colder months when we tend not to open our windows so frequently. Clean indoor air is often overlooked, but it is very important as it has multiple benefits such as boosting productivity, increasing levels of calmness and optimism, reducing stress and lowering blood pressure (6).
If you do not have any houseplants, now may be a good time to get one or two! Here you can find three plants that help meet your oxygen needs indoors.
9. Feel cozy with eco-friendly candles
Candles can easily make us feel cozy during the colder months, but did you realize that traditional scented candles contribute significantly to indoor air pollution?
In fact, most candles are made from paraffin wax. When the latter is burned, highly poisonous benzene and toluene are released, both of which are known carcinogens (7). Furthermore, many scented candles contain hazardous metals that can propagate in the air after only a few hours of burning. These can reach levels exceeding the legal limit.
Therefore, be sure to buy non-toxic and environmentally friendly candles that are:
Made from all-natural products such as beeswax or soy
Have paper or 100% cotton wicks
Here you can find many sustainable candle brands (even better if they are produced locally to avoid carbon costs of shipping). And remember to do your research before you pile up products that make you feel cozy during autumn.
10. Make going back to school greener
The fall season is also synonymous with going back to school or college. To prepare for schools reopening, kids often want new things. Nevertheless, this is not very sustainable. For instance, each year approximately 11,600 incense-cedar trees are cut down to create 2 billion pencils in the United States alone (8).
To minimise your impact, opt for environmentally friendly products such as recycled school supplies or ones that are wrapped in limited packaging whenever possible. Try to upcycle last year's supplies as well. For instance, bingers that are still in great condition can be reused at home for organisation purposes.
If you need new electrical devices, such as a phone, computer or a tablet, consider buying refurbished at Backmarket for instance. This is a great way to buy high-quality electronics while reducing waste and decreasing pollution. Your wallet will also thank you! Plus they offer a student discount.
These simple 10 eco-friendly sustainable lifestyle tips can really help you to get through autumn and be ready as...winter is coming! Remember that the only thing more spooky this season than Halloween is our environmental impact...
Check out also our previous blog post 10 Tips for a Sustainable Summer if you feel nostalgic and miss your summer holiday!
(1) Vox. 2021. More than ever, our clothes are made of plastic. Just washing them can pollute the oceans.. [online] Available at: <https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2018/9/19/17800654/clothes-plastic-pollution-polyester-washing-machine > [Accessed 18 August 2021].
(2) Earth Day. 2021. Fact Sheet: How Much Disposable Plastic We Use | Earth Day. [online] Available at: <https://www.earthday.org/fact-sheet-how-much-disposable-plastic-we-use/ > [Accessed 18 August 2021].
(3) NIA. 2021. Benefits of Insulation - NIA. [online] Available at: <https://insulation.org/about-insulation/benefits-of-insulation/ > [Accessed 17 August 2021].
(4) Sustainability Victoria. 2021. Reducing heat loss through home windows. [online] Available at: <https://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/energy-efficiency-and-reducing-emissions/building-or-renovating/windows-and-shading/reducing-heat-loss-through-windows > [Accessed 18 August 2021].
(5) Firestonecompleteautocare.com. 2021. Should I Inflate My Tires in Cold Weather? | Firestone Complete Auto Care. [online] Available at: <https://www.firestonecompleteautocare.com/blog/tires/should-i-inflate-tires-cold-weather/ > [Accessed 15 August 2021].
(6) Earth911. 2021. The 3 Plants Every Home Should Have for Clean Air. [online] Available at: <https://earth911.com/home-garden/indoor-plants/ > [Accessed 18 August 2021].
(7) Hayward Score. 2021. The Truth About Scented Candles. [online] Available at: <https://www.haywardscore.com/articles/the-truth-about-scented-candles/ > [Accessed 18 August 2021].
(8) Environment. 2021. Eight Ways to Go Green for Back-to-School. [online] Available at: <https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/eight-ways-to-go-green-for-back-to-school > [Accessed 18 August 2021].