How To Green Your Fall: Top Ten {Tuesday}

This is a guest post by Betsy at Eco-Novice. Prepared to be dazzled by her knowledge!

top ten list

Here are some simple ways to reduce your exposure to harmful toxins while leaving a smaller footprint that are perfect to try in the warmer months of the year.

10 Ways to Green Your Fall

1. Eat locally and seasonally.

eat local

If you are interested in switching to healthier, fresher, more eco-friendly foods, summer or fall is definitely the time to do it.  An easy way to shop locally and seasonally is to simply shop at your local farmers’ market. During the summer and fall, I find it easy to shop exclusively for my produce at the farmers’ market because of the wonderful variety.  This week I purchased grapes, tomatoes, cilantro, baby greens, corn, cauliflower, strawberries, raspberries, celery, carrots, and zucchini (all organic).  When I’m shopping at the farmers’ market, I don’t have to debate whether or not I should buy the organic blueberries grown in Chile or the apples grown in New Zealand.  I’m shopping local and in season without even thinking about it.  The farmers’ market is also a great way to make eating organic more affordable. Find your local farmers’ market here.

2. Take off your shoes.

Does your child spend a lot of time on the floor, maybe even licking the floor?  Mine does. Taking off your shoes keeps a lot of man-made toxins out of your house, off your wall-to-wall carpet, off of little kids’ hands and out of kids’ mouths.  And while the weather is still warm, you don’t have to worry about putting on slippers to keep your feet warm.  Just go barefoot inside.

3. Open windows.

Due to more energy-efficient construction, newer homes allow little air in or out except through the windows and doors.  The EPA warns that indoor air pollution is now often a bigger problem than outdoor air pollution.  Opening your windows, even for just a few minutes, can drastically improve indoor air quality.  Even in the winter, I would try to let some fresh air in for a few minutes every day, especially if you live in a newer home.  Fall is a good time to get in the habit.

4. Turn off the lights.

In the still-long days of late summer and early fall, we can go through most of a day without using the lights at all.  Try opening curtains and blinds in the morning instead of turning on lights.  Then you won’t have to remember to turn off the lights a few hours later.

5. Line dry your laundry.

If you have the space in your backyard, put up a nylon line.  If not, simply use a rack.  To avoid crinkly rough towels, just toss them in the dryer for 5-10 minutes before line drying or after line drying but still damp.  You can put clothes to dry on hangers hung from tree branches. Start with something easy, like cloth diapers or rags and undershirts.  Line drying naturally removes odors and stains, saves oodles of energy and lots of money too.  When the weather turns cold or rainy, try hanging a line in your basement or garage, or use a rack indoors.

6. Try early potty training.

Did you know that in the 1950s more than half of all children were potty trained by 19 months?  As recently as the 1980s, almost half of all children began potty training by 18 months.  There are reasons to be skeptical of the AAP’s definition of “potty readiness.”  If you have a toddler in diapers, summer or fall is a great time to give early potty training a whirl.  Just send your toddler outside diaper-free (or commando, if you prefer) to encourage a little body awareness and jump-start potty training.  Whether you use disposables or cloth diapers, you’ll be doing the planet and your pocketbook a favor by getting your child out of diapers sooner.

7. Switch to reusable lunch gear.

eco novice

The average American school-age child throws away 67 pounds of lunch waste a year. This fall, instead of packing your child’s lunch in disposable plastic baggies, try using a coordinating set of reusable food bags.  These days you can find reusable bags made from a variety of fabrics and materials.  Or, if you are the crafty type, you could even sew your own.

8. Use safe sun protection.

Unless we are heading to the beach or on a hike for the day, my preferred method of sun protection is covering up with long-sleeves and hats, and seeking out some shade rather than slathering on the sunscreen.  When your family does use sunscreen, use it correctly.  Choose a safe and effective sunscreen that protects against skin damage and skin cancer (caused by UVA rays) and not just sunburn (caused by UVB rays).  Look for products with the active ingredients zinc, titanium, avobenzone or Mexoryl SX, which all offer broad UVA/ UVB protection.  Reapply every hour or two regardless of the SPF listed.

9. Practice safe grilling.

Minimize your risk of ingesting cancer-causing substances associated with grilling (PAHs and HCAs) by cooking lean cuts of meat, pre-cooking meat a few minutes in the microwave, marinating meat before grilling, cutting off and discarding any charred meat or skin, flipping more often, cooking over the cooler parts of the grill, and swapping out some of the meat for veggies and tofu.

10. Go outside.

top ten green

Did you know that this generation of children is the first ever that will spend more time playing inside than outside?  With the weather still cooperative (hopefully), and kids cooped up in classrooms most of the day, fall is a great time to spend plenty of time outdoors running around and reconnecting with the natural world.  Everything is more fun outdoors.

What is your best tip for going green during the fall?

Betsy is a parent of two young children trying to go green without becoming totally overwhelmed. She especially enjoys making green changes that save money and simplify life, like buying less, cooking from scratch, and early potty training. Betsy shares the results of her research into greener products and her family’s efforts to live more naturally on her blog Eco-novice: Going Green Gradually.

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  1. Thanks for the link Becky!!

  2. Great tips. I had no idea that indoor air pollution is a problem! I am also reminded how much I’d love to make our home shoe free. My hubby just is not on board for that one and we have so many guests it might be awkward to enforce no shoes. I wish though!!

    • I don’t really enforce the shoe-free thing with guests. I have a box labeled “shoes” by the door. Some folks just take theirs off w/o comment, others say “would you like me to take off my shoes?” and I’ll say “that would be great” or “up to you” (depending on how recently I cleaned my floors). I don’t say anything to my mother-in-law, though, believe me. My husband wears slippers or thick socks inside year-round — never goes barefoot.

  3. We are always shoe free in our house as are most Canadians (at least in Calgary). One thing I don’t follow is opening the blinds. It heats our house up so much & then our A/C works double time. I do open them in the winter though to help keep the house warm.

    • It’s interesting that in many cultures (most Asian ones, I think) shoe-free is the norm. And if they can go shoe-free in Canada year-round, I think the rest of us probably can too! I hear you on the blinds — we have pretty moderate weather in No. Cal, but on the very hot days, I’m happy to keep the house as dark and cool as possible.

  4. Great ideas. We plant a fall garden this time of year. That’s our way of eating locally. You can’t get any more local than your backyard! 🙂

    Thanks for the tips. I really liked the reusable lunch gear.

    • Oh, I wish I had a garden! For now I have a basil plant. A garden really is the BEST, but I think the Farmer’s Market is a wonderful substitute, and takes requires significantly less know-how and time/effort than your own garden : )

  5. Under the eating locally and seasonally, I would add that you can buy a farm share of a local farm. Go to to see what’s available in your area. We pay about $700 for 24 weeks of 20 lbs of local organic produce delivered to our house; that comes out to about $1.50 a pound which is better than what I would pay for “regular” produce!

    • Great point! We also belong to a CSA (Community sponsored agriculture) or farm share, but I find that my farmer’s market is even cheaper! And requires less commitment. Some farm shares require a season-long or year-long commitment. Sounds like you are getting a phenomenal deal on your organic produce. The CSAs in my area tend to be a bit pricier. $1 to $2 a pound is around what I pay at my farmer’s market for organic produce.

  6. Excellent post! We’re a shoeless indoors family – primarily because I can’t stand all the dirt the shoes track in – but I’ve never thought about how much toxins we bring in our shoes. Great tip! In my post today I explain how I hang things to dry inside in the closets. I actually use the dryer less and create less work for myself at the same time. I haven’t line dried my towels yet (I’m so addicted to the fluffiness) but I will just have to try it now. Thanks!

  7. I’m “greener” than I though – I’m already doing a lot of these 🙂 I had no idea about the indoor air pollution, though. Gonna go open windows now!

  8. Stephan Hilson says:

    These are interesting tips to go green anytime. It is good to wear sunscreen because it could protect the skin from skin problems and having wrinkles due to skin damage. As for another tip, I am planning to buy solar lightning kit so that I could be able to use solar energy when there is a electricity turned off by the electricity provider due to heavy storm. Thanks for sharing some ideas on being environmentally conscious.

  9. I love your top ten. Especially number 10! I’m looking forward to a little bit cooler weather so we can go outside!

  10. I’m also Canadian and it’s so crazy to me that people would wear shoes in the house! I would also suggest having a garden and canning and preserving and freezing vegetables and fruits for fall and winter.

    • Miranda, I don’t have a garden yet, but I’m trying canning produce from the farmer’s market for the first time this summer/fall. It’s a bit daunting, so I feel lucky to have some friends who are canning veterans.

  11. I love Betsy’s blog. She makes going green a lot more simpler and easier

  12. I do love fall. Love, love, LOVE! We will definitely be getting our kids out of the house as much as possible over the next few months!

  13. These tips are great! We try very hard to be eco-conscious and pass it along to our daughter. A couple of these were new ideas for me. Thanks for sharing!

  14. I don’t know if I’ve EVER been more ready for fall than I am this year after a long, crazy-hot summer! I can’t wait to actually get outside (I’m not counting the pool), open the windows and enjoy the cool, crisp days.

    And I love Betsy’s blog, too!

  15. Thanks for the great guest post! I always love shopping at the local farmer’s markets in my area and I do cook everything (meals, baking etc) from scratch, so being able to use local produce on a daily basis always feels good.
    Where we live, it is “the norm” to take your shoes off before entering your (or anyone else’s) house… and since moving here, my floors have never been so clean! My four year old is great at policing this “rule”.
    We also open windows rather than use air conditioning, line dry whenever possible (used to be able to do this all the time, but it’s pretty humid here) and go outside… all the time!
    What a wonderful idea to concentrate a blog on – will definitely read more.
    Thanks for sharing,

    • My 4-year-old is very serious about the no-shoes rule as well. Even when we go to a friend’s house and the mom says, oh don’t worry about taking off shoes, my preschooler is already sitting on the floor taking them off. He just can’t walk through the house with shoes on.

  16. You have given me encouragement to try potty training earlier. We already do many of the things on your list pretty naturally, but I am dreading potty training. My little guy just can’t be bothered. He’s a man of convenience, but we are working on it. By this time next year (he’ll be 3) I’d love to be diaper free!

  17. Great list. Buy locally!! love that…the farmers market in my town there is a vendor they make hormone and all that other junk free brats!!! SOO GOOD!!!
    and I can do #10 when I go :0)

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