I adore the summer. It’s my absolute favorite season! However, this year, since we’ve been spending so much time at home and social distancing, I’m learning to enjoy and treasure the changes in seasons. We spend a lot of time in our own backyard, and while it’s still really warm in Georgia, I’m noticing the mornings are a bit cooler. I can’t wait to see the changing fall foliage and enjoy cool crisp air. While we won’t be attending our favorite fall festival, The Georgia Apple Festival, this year, I’m looking forward to celebrating the season in other ways. I whipped up this list of 15 sustainable activities for fall to remind myself that there are still a lot of fun activities we can do even if we need to continue to keep our distance and ride out the current pandemic.
1. Pumpkin Decorating
Of course, pumpkin decorating had to be first on the list! This is one of my favorite classic zero waste fall activities. Pinterest has TONS of cool ideas for ways you can decorate pumpkins. I love this list of 65 Easy No Carve Pumpkin ideas. Definitely support local pumpkin patches when purchasing pumpkins if you can! Decorating pumpkins is a really fun project to do with littles ones too. You can set up a station of crafting materials outside, and let them be creative. Be sure to toss your pumpkin into the compost bin at the end of the season.
2. Roast Pumpkin Seeds
It’s a little early for carving pumpkins, but when you do in a few weeks, roast the pumpkin seeds! Also, compost the pumpkin guts when carving, because zero waste, duh. I like to roast pumpkin seeds using a simple recipe with just butter and salt. However, there are some really creative pumpkin seed recipes on Pinterest, including Cinnamon Toast Pumpkin Seeds and Sriracha Roasted Seeds.
3. Eat your Favorite Seasonal Foods
I know spring and summer seasonal produce gets a lot of hype (fresh local strawberries, *drool*). But don’t forget all of the amazing produce you can only find locally this time of year. Head to your local farmer’s market or considering purchasing a CSA box for the freshest brussels sprouts, figs, pears, pumpkins, and winter squash. My personal favorite food this time of year is MUSCADINES! This is the only time of year you can find them, and they’re so delicious.
4. Indulge in Fall Baking
When I think of fall time, I think of the smell of apple pie wafting through the kitchen. Take this time to indulge in all your favorite fall recipes. Try making a fresh pumpkin pie without using canned pumpkin. Bake allll the cookies 🙂 These vegan pumpkin cookies with maple glaze sound amazing. I also enjoy making homemade apple sauce in the fall!
If you want to go a step further with sustainable treats, make a few recipes from The Zero Waste Vegan Cookbook.
5. Learn to Preserve the Harvest
Now is a great time to learn how to preserve the summer and fall’s bounty to enjoy all winter long. Have you considered learning how to can? Make your own jelly or salsa? I love watching Sarah from Sustainable in the Suburbs over on Insta Stories with her Tomato Town project. She purchases a BUNCH of fresh tomatoes and shares how she prepares them to make many jars of tomato sauce that her family can enjoy all year long. Stone Family Farmstead also is an excellent resource for all things food preservation.
6. Make Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar
You can go ahead and stop purchasing apple cider vinegar at the grocery store. It’s super duper simple to make it at home. Snag some organic apples locally while they are in season and make a batch of homemade apple cider vinegar. I promise it’s a lot easier to make that you would think!
7. Fall Scented Pot Simmer
I initially thought of all the amazing scented fall candles that would be great to enjoy this time of year. However, a lot of candles are full of nasty chemicals you don’t want to spread around your home. Instead consider making a fall scented pot simmer. Basically, you just simmer fall inspired food items on the stove and it will make your home smell AMAZING. Apple slices and cinnamon sticks is a personal fave of mine. Be sure to throw the scraps into your compost pile after to prevent food waste!
8. Go Hiking
It’s finally starting to cool down, making it the perfect time to enjoy a hike in the mountains to check out the changing fall foliage. It’s an absolute treat from Mother Nature to to take in the changing fall leaves before winter and something I look forward to every year. Visiting a national park or state park is a great way to enjoy the changing seasons!
9. Go Camping
How about making it an extra cool fall hiking adventure by camping the night in somewhere beautiful! Again, now that the weather is more pleasant with cooler temperatures and the mosquitoes are going away, it’s really the best time of the year for a weekend camping trip! I realize many of you don’t live in Georgia, but if you do, here’s a post about 5 Primitive Camping Getaways in North Georgia. The Upper Chattahoochee looks really beautiful.
10. Visit the Beach
The summer crowds have gone home. Kids are back in school. And now is a great time to visit the beach! My family and I are actually headed to St. Augustine in a few weeks. We’ve been inside for so many months due to the pandemic. We decided now would be a safe time to visit the beach since it’s not the busy season and there will be fewer people.
I can’t wait for Vasco to get to play in the sand and I’m looking forward to the calming sound of the waves and fresh ocean breeze on my face 🙂 I love packing a good book and sitting in the sand for hours reading! I plan to spend afternoons picking up litter on the beach also. Do you ever see single-use plastics littering the beach? You can make a positive environmental impact even while on vacation by picking up trash on the beach.
11. Make a Bonfire
This maybe should’ve gone under the go camping section, but honestly making a backyard fire is just as fun. Is there anything better than cozying up to a warm fire with a mug of apple cider on a brisk fall evening?
12. Zero Waste Fall Decorations
In my Zero Waste Halloween blog post, I’ve got some fall decoration ideas for you. But the gist of it is forage for decorations! Use what you can find in your backyard, like pinecones and interesting shaped leaves. Purchase some gourds or winter squash locally to decorate around the house. You can start by making a simple pinecone wreath, fall themed tie blanket, or a cornucopia for the table.
If you don’t have some of the supplies for these DIY decor ideas, ask a friend, visit a local thrift store, or search Facebook Marketplace. You never know who may have a glue gun or safety pins sitting around unused.
We’ll soon be pulling out our favorite winter coats but before you do, consider all of the summer clothes, items, and accessories you DIDN’t use this year. If you didn’t use it, do you really need to keep it stored until next summer? Are there some things you can let go? How about decluttering the kid toys? You know their grandparents are going to give them more toys to play with in a few months, so take some time to declutter. Be sure to donate gently used items. I like to use our local Buy Nothing group to give away items our family no longer uses.
14. Make a PSL at Home
Are you craving a pumpkin spice latte?? I saw Starbucks started selling them earlier than usual this year. But did you know you can make your favorite PSL at home? Skip the disposable cup and make your own! There are lots of recipes on Pinterest, but here’s one to get your started: The Best Homemade Pumpkin Spice Lattes.
15. Zero Waste Fall Inspired Crafts
Raise your hand if you have kiddos at home! The local library and parks are closed due to Covid and we’ve been spending all of our time at home. Which I love! But sometimes we need some new fun things to play to change things up. Check out these 60 Fall Crafts for Kids to keep your tiny humans busy!
Rather than purchasing Halloween costumes from Walmart or Amazon, visit your local thrift shop. The best time to shop for Halloween costumes is right after halloween and in the spring. After Halloween, everyone gets rid of costumes as well as during the spring cleaning season right after winter.
You can thrift Halloween costumes from places like Facebook Marketplace, local thrift shops, Etsy, or even Goodwill. You will find so many cute options that will even save you money. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for opt for thrifted clothes and use them to DIY your very own halloween costume!
17. Make DIY Fall Games
Whether you’re hosting a fall party or playing games with your kiddos, making your own games by hand is a perfect option this fall. Instead of buying games from the store, head over to Pinterest for fun DIY games. These can include DIY tic-tac-toe, decorating homemade halloween shaped sugar cookies, treasure hunts in straw, and so many more.
18. Local Apple & Pumpkin Picking
The fall season wouldn’t be complete without fresh apples and pumpkins. This year instead of picking these items up at the grocery store, head to a local farm or apple orchards. Many local farms will have U-Pick apples and pumpkins where you’ll be able to harvest your own. How fun?! If you can’t find a U-Pick, look up local farms in your area for roadside stands or shops.
These local farms are extra fun during the fall season, because they often have festive activities going on, especially on the weekends. For example, our local farm has a corn maze each year that we love to check out!
When visiting these farms, bring along a reusable cotton string bag to carry your apples or small pumpkins. If the farm lets you sample their fruit while apple picking, pack a zero waste utensil wrap for easy tasting without the waste.
19. Visit Farmers Markets
Local farmer’s markets are a great place to pickup fresh produce instead of the grocery store. Many times it’ll even save you money and you’ll be supporting local farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, and businesses. Fall farmer’s markets will often have hot cider, fresh picked apples, pumpkins of all sizes, and kettle corn. Who doesn’t want any of that?!
For your trip to the farmer’s market, take along reusable tote bags, cotton mesh produce bags, and zero waste utensils. These sustainable items will help you reduce your waste and save on the amount of plastic items being handed out.
This fall season is the perfect time to start living a sustainable lifestyle. You’ll not only save money and reduce waste but you’ll also make so many memories in the fall weather! Instead of grabbing fall treats and produce from the shelves, you’ll have memories of picking your own on the farms. Start with just one of these sustainable fall ideas and go from there. No need to get overwhelmed. Every effort makes a difference and impacts our earth for the better.
What is your favorite way to celebrate the season? Do you have any fun zero waste fall activities planned for the next few weeks?? What’s on your fall bucket list?