Seasonal Sustainability: Autumn!

The season of fall is upon us. For many people, this conjures up pleasant memories and an excitement to make more. There are so many splendid seasonal things to savor in autumn. Football kicks things off, and Thanksgiving is a celebratory feast to accent the season, and throughout there are wonderful treats. I am going to focus on balancing fall traditions with living sustainably.

Sustainability is a lifestyle choice. I do my best to work it into my daily routine as best as I possibly can. When things happen that deviate from my routine, such as a holiday or game day, I do not make as many sustainable choices as I normally would. I get caught up in the festivities and lose sight of the possible consequences of my actions. When I reminisce about those times, my memory is distorted by the sense of tradition and merriment that I associate with fall. This makes it very difficult, for me at least, to view my decisions critically. I am going to do so as a guide so that we can still be green when we are surrounded by shades of yellow and red.

One thing that clouds our judgment about our choices, not only in fall but all year round, is the impact that a seemingly small decision carries.  Buying a few lattes over the course of a week does not seem to burden anyone unless they have a small wastebasket, yet could you imagine how much space a year’s worth of coffee cups for one person could occupy? For me and others, this consumption gets amplified in the fall. The reason is the popular seasonal beverages. Most people will not make the connection that their increased consumption from Starbucks is adversely impacting the environment; they will just enjoy their pumpkin spice latte. One remedy to this is instead of using a new paper cup each time, invest in a reusable container. They are sold in most coffee shops and are just as easy for the baristas as any other cup. This may not seem like a major environmental hazard, but it is an easy way to reduce consumption while consuming a fall treat.

A more substantive challenge is from tailgating and football games. People tend to enjoy more than just sport as they organize large scale outdoor gatherings. There are many factors to being sustainable on game day, and they might be out of your control. One solution is to recycle cans and bottles where possible. If there are not recycling bins, start an effort to make them available. Perhaps the best thing to do is lead by example. Show others your commitment to being sustainable, and some of it should rub off on them.

Striving for sustainability and a better future for both ourselves and the environment we live in is a noble aspiration. You directly impact the environment by the choices you make, whether positively or negatively. Sustainability is not just about actively working, but also about enjoying the harvest in way that is not fraught with waste.

By Michael Wilburn, FAC E-Rep

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