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Fall

At Home & In the Garden

Quick Tips:

  • Put raked leaves and other yard wastes in a compost bin and keep these materials out of landfills. Don't forget to add any organic materials cleaned out of your gutters, too!
  • Don't over fertilize. A slow-release organic fertilizer applied once in the fall is sufficient for most lawns. Consult your cooperative extension agent.
  • Shred untreated wood and leaf wastes into chips and use them as mulch on garden beds to prevent weed growth, retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and add nutrients back to the soil.
  • Cool, dry fall days are a great time to paint both the interior and exterior of your home. Properly store any unused paint for future use, donate unused paint to neighbors or charities, or turn in your used paint to a waste collection facility for recycling.
  • Grass clippings and shredded (or unshredded) leaves make excellent mulch. Pile shredded leaves deep around your shrubbery, as well as in and around any plants you want to overwinter in pots.
  • When stocking up on cold-weather gear, buy recycled-content items such as fleece clothing and blankets made from recycled soda bottles and snow shovels made from recycled plastic. Buying recycled-content products "closes the loop" and encourages companies to make more items with recycled materials.
  • Replace old insulation with insulation made from recycled paper, glass, and other recovered materials.
  • Check your heat pump or furnace and change the filter or make repairs if needed. Properly maintaining your furnace will conserve fuel by keeping it running efficiently and preventing leaks.
  • Before rough winter weather sets in, remove screens from windows and doors and put up storm windows. Strong winds, heavy rains, and extreme cold can all damage your screens and ordinary windows and send them to landfills before their time.
  • Check caulking around windows and do touch ups to conserve energy and natural resources.

Holidays and Events

Quick Tips:

  • Why purchase a Halloween costume that you will probably only use once and then throw away? Instead, use old clothes or buy used clothes from a consignment shop to make your costume. Also remember to use reusable cloth bags instead of disposable ones for trick-or-treating.
  • Make the most of your jack o' lantern. Use the removed meat to make pumpkin pie or muffins and roast the seeds as a fun holiday snack. When the holiday is over, cut up your carved pumpkin before it spoils and toss it in the compost bin.
  • If you host a party, set the table with cloth napkins and reusable dishes, glasses, and silverware. Consider renting more formal tableware that you might not use very often. Also save and reuse party hats, decorations, and favors.
  • After holiday festivities, put leftovers in recyclable containers, and share them with family, friends, or others. Donate whole, untouched leftovers from parties to a local food bank or homeless shelter.
  • Show your guests where to put recyclables such as aluminum, glass, and plastic beverage containers.
  • After parties, fill your dishwasher to capacity before running it. You will run fewer cycles, which saves energy.
  • Have a create-your-own-decorations party! Invite family and friends to create and use holiday decorations such as ornaments made from old greeting cards or cookie dough, garlands made from strung popcorn or cranberries, wreaths made from artificial greens and flowers, and potpourri made from kitchen spices such as cinnamon and cloves.
  • After holiday festivities, put leftovers in recyclable containers, and share them with family, friends, or others. Donate whole, untouched leftovers from parties to a local food bank or homeless shelter.

At School and in the Community

Quick Tips:

  • Choose and use a wide assortment of products made from recycled products, such as pencils made from old blue jeans; binders made from old shipping boxes; and many types of recycled paper products. You can also reuse items like refillable pens, rechargeable batteries, and scrap paper for notes. Using recycled content and reusing supplies prevents waste and saves you money.
  • Use school supplies wrapped with minimal packaging; use compact or concentrated products; or buy products that come in bulk sizes. Save packaging, colored paper, egg cartons and other items for arts and crafts projects. Look for other ways you can reduce the amount of packaging you throw away!
  • Many schools reuse text books to save money and reduce waste. Covering your textbooks with cut-up grocery or shopping bags helps reduce waste and keeps your books in good condition. Be creative–use markers or colored pencils to give your covers unique and fun designs. Paper grocery bags are also great for wrapping packages.
  • Start an art project with "found" objects. Collages and sculptures made from discarded items are a growing trend!
  • Use and maintain durable products. Sturdy backpacks and notebooks can be reused for many years, which helps reduce the amount of broken items tossed away each year. Put long-lasting, high-quality tires on your car and bicycle. Be sure to keep your tires properly inflated.
  • If you bring your lunch to school, package it in reusable containers instead of disposable ones, and carry them in a reusable plastic or cloth bag, or lunch box. Bring drinks in a thermos instead of disposable bottles or cartons.
  • If you buy lunch, take and use only what you need: One napkin, one ketchup packet, one salt packet, one pepper packet, one set of flatware. And, remember to recycle your cans and bottles.
  • If you drive to school, try carpooling or take public transportation. You can also try walking, biking, or skating. You can prevent wasted fuel, reduce air pollution, and decrease traffic in your community.
  • Pass it on. Share the message with your friends and schoolmates. Waste less by reducing, reusing, and recycling. Volunteer for, or start, an environmental club or recycling project in your school.
  • Work with your teachers and friends to find ways to encourage everyone in your community to make waste reduction a part of their everyday lives. You can also look for unique ways to make your school more waste-free, such as starting a school composting project.
  • November is an excellent time of year to conduct neighborhood food or clothing drives to help those in need.
  • Make a commitment to recycling this fall by getting involved in local events, and by making a pledge to recycle more and buy products made from recycled materials.
  • Work with your teachers and friends to find ways to encourage everyone in your community to make waste reduction a part of their everyday lives. You can also look for unique ways to make your school more waste-free, such as starting a school composting project.

Photo of autumnal tree with ground covered in bright orange leaves


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