Clean Skies and Pumpkin Spice: Tips for a Sustainable Autumn
Autumn is finally here! Days filled with beautiful skies, pumpkin patches, and getting ready for “spooky season”. Our schedules are busy and filled with fun activities, so let’s incorporate some easy clean air actions in our routines and outings during the month of October. Below are some tips to reduce air pollution during the fall season: Gardening, Sustainable Transportation, and of course, Halloween!
Yard Work Tips
The leaves are turning red and gold, and soon enough your backyard will be a blanket of autumn colors. Roll up your sleeves and get ready for yard chores, but don’t throw out your garden waste just yet! The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that U.S. landfills receive over 10.5 million tons of yard waste every year. Bagging and throwing away leaves take up a lot of space in landfills, producing potent greenhouse gases like methane. Burning leaves produces air borne particles and carbon monoxide which have shown to cause serious human health problems and contribute to air pollution. There are sustainable and easy alternatives to discarding or burning leaves like mulching your yard waste.
Fallen leaves provide numerous minerals and nutrients to the fertility of soil when they are decomposed. It’s important to shred the leaves into smaller pieces so the leaves break down faster into mulch while allowing your grass to receive enough sunlight and rain. To create mulch over your lawn, simply spread the leaves out into a thin layer and mow over them. For clean air-friendly yard work, we encourage using a non-motorized lawn mower. Once finely shredded, you can spread out the leaves with a rake across your lawn. You can keep the shreds on the grass, or you can collect them and scatter them under your flower beds or shrubs. Within a few days, your shredded leaves will turn into nutritious mulch for your yard.
Ditch the Car!
Texas weather is finally starting to cool down. Time to put your walking shoes on or bring out your bike to get around town! This month, opt for more sustainable forms of transportation to get to work, school, groceries, or visiting friends and family. Not only is walking and biking great for your mental and physical health, both activities produce net-zero emissions. Transportation is the one of the largest emission sources of ozone in North Texas, so try replacing some of your commutes and travel by bike or on-foot to enjoy the autumn weather. You can carry a reusable bag on your walks - you might find some autumn treasures like pinecones, acorns, and leaves that you can use at home for fall decorations!
Decorations and costumes are what make the Halloween season extra special and spooky. For the crafty readers, you can make your own décor and costumes sustainably by using materials you already have at home, saving a trip to the store! Turn your regular household items like jars into spooky candles, ghosts made from cheese cloth, or leaves into garlands! Bags, pillowcases, and re-usable baskets are perfect options for sustainable and re-usable trick-or-treating. Pumpkins are always a great choice for sustainable decoration since they are fully biodegradable and can be composted after the festivities.
If you plan on making your own Halloween decorations, avoid using spray paints. Paints with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) can expose you to methylene chloride which is irritating to the lung, skin, and eyes and can cause long-term health problems. VOCs in combination with nitrogen oxide forms ozone emissions, creating air pollution in our region. As an alternative, try using non-toxic, water-based paints to create your spooky décor.
These tips and tricks can make great additions to your fall chores, traditions, and celebrations while keeping the air clean in our North Central Texas region. We would like to remind our readers that ozone season does not end until November 30th. We highly encourage you to continue practicing clean air actions as we approach the colder months ahead. Wishing you a very "Happy Fall” and a “Spooktacular Halloween!"