As the brilliant colors of early fall fade in the northern U.S. states, many of us are preparing for the long winter ahead. In between dusting off our snow boots and digging out our favorite cozy sweaters, we can take some time to think about living sustainably in the cooler season.
With shorter daylight hours and lower temperatures, you may find yourself turning on more lights at home or taking long, hot baths. Of course, we all know that the same rules apply year-round when it comes to turning off lights and taking shorter showers to conserve water. Here are a few other friendly green living reminders for fall.
Preserve Your Garden Goodies
Before the first frost hits your vegetable garden, preserve as much of your harvest as possible. In case you haven’t heard, canning is cool again, and for good reason. Canning provides you with fruits and vegetables during the months when they can’t be grown in your region. This helps you reduce your reliance on produce shipped in from distant warm-weather climates (which adds to your carbon footprint). If you’ve been growing herbs, The Spruce has some tips for drying and storing herbs for use throughout the colder months.
Check Your Tires
Cooler temperatures can lower tire pressure and under-inflated tires reduce your car’s fuel efficiency. It takes just a few minutes to inflate your tires to the proper pressure and it’s well worth the grimy fingers. And while you’re at it, check your car service records; is it time to rotate your tires yet? By regularly rotating your tires, you make sure your tires wear evenly. Regular rotation can extend your tire life and improve your gas mileage.
Clean and Test Your Furnace
Did you know that your furnace needs regular cleaning? Throughout the year, it collects lots of dust and debris, both of which can affect the furnace’s performance and could even cause a fire. Clean out or replace your furnace filter regularly and get your furnace serviced by a professional before the cold weather calls.
Bring In the Houseplants
If your houseplants spent the summer outside, don’t forget to bring them in before it gets too cold. If you don’t have any houseplants, maybe now is a good time to consider getting one or two. Not only do plants brighten up the interior of your home, but they may reduce stress and improve air quality. Since most of us in cooler climates open the windows less frequently in the winter, houseplants can do a lot to improve your indoor air quality.
Do Some Yard Work
If you have a yard, spend some time getting it ready for the winter. Scoop up any fallen leaves and use them in the garden as mulch to protect plants throughout the winter — or add them to your compost pile. Fall is the time to plant spring bulbs and some perennials. And you can also plant many types of trees and shrubs in the fall, which will give them enough time to develop a deep root system over the winter months and reduce their water needs come spring.
We all love the coziness that candles provide during the cooler months, but did you know that most candles on the market are made from paraffin wax, a product of petroleum refining? A more environmentally friendly choice is candles made from beeswax — even better if you can find them at a local market or craft fair to avoid the carbon costs of shipping. Be sure to do your research before you stock up on products that make you feel cozy during the fall and winter.
Feature image courtesy of Jenny Downing
Editor’s note: Originally published on October 20, 2015, this article was updated in September 2023.