zero waste community autumn

As the months get colder, our instinct is to get wrapped up as warm as possible, get our hot chocolates or pumpkin spiced lattes and have a wander around kicking the leaves.

Darker evenings usually means we’re more tired, meaning when we get in from work or school, we turn the heating up, put on our favourite streaming services and order in because we just, can’t, be bothered.

Leading up to some of the most wasteful periods of the year, we want to help you reduce your waste ahead of times, prepare you for the colder months and keep your environmental impact as positive as possible. Bonus, we have some heartwarming community action you can get involved with too.

zero waste autumn

Out and About

Whether you’re soaking up the last of the sunshine, meeting up with that first date for a walk in the park, before the inevitable sleet pours begin or popping out to the charity shops to start your secondhand gift buying, be prepared.

Pack your gloves and hat, handkerchief, reusable mug for the preemptive festive take out drink, tote and produce bags for any pumpkins you’re going to carve (and make soup out of) in your bag, to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered. Sometimes the temptation is far too strong when it comes to warming ourselves up and we end up buying things we already own.

cold outside
No need to buy new hats, scarves and gloves when you already have them

Something I like to do, especially as it starts to get colder is make up care packs for homeless people. If you’ve just moved onto a menstrual cup or reusable pads, perhaps you’ve got leftovers of tampons or pads? Pop them in a bag, along with spare gloves and hats you may have, a fleece or jumper, a mug (we all have so many mugs!), hand sanitiser, toothpaste, toothbrushes, homemade oat bars, fruit and anything else you may have that could help look after someone else. I hand as many as I’ve made out to people I see.

It may be not seem like much but it truly can mean the world to some people. I give whatever I can to help when I’m heading out and if you can too, then I encourage you to do the same.

Eating well

Did you notice that you see more adverts for takeaways during Autumn and Winter than at any other time of year? This isn’t a coincidence. This is prime time for takeaways to make their buck. Sports seasons are back, as are our favourite TV series and the darker nights mean we’re feeling more tired, therefore we feel like we can’t be bothered more often.

This is prime soup and stew season though! All the root veg are coming back into season, perfect timing for us getting wholesome, filling, delicious food that keeps us healthy and feeling cosy. Another bonus is that a lot of food when it’s in season, aren’t wrapped in plastic either as it’s not needing stored for long. With a big pot of soup ready, warm up some rolls or baguette, get out the extra blankets and invite people round for a very ‘hygge’ evening in.

autumn soup
How much soup, is too much soup?

If you are still feeling like a takeaway though, we all do from time to time, bring your own containers with you when you collect to avoid the extra waste. So many takeout places are appreciating the amount of money they’re saving from having to buy new containers, even if they do give you a funny look the first time you do it.

At home

In Scotland, we’re very well known for keeping the heating off as long as possible, it’s almost like it’s a challenge to compete in with who keeps it off the longest. While also still hanging our washing out in single degree weather, just because it’s dry (got to get those nappy and tea stains out somehow!).

line drying washing
Hanging out the washing even when it’s freezing seems to be a Scottish trademark the more people I speak to

Getting the blankets out, (I found a bargain of a king size looking, vintage woolen blanket at a market last Christmas that has been a saviour in these chilly evenings), the hot water bottles and grabbing our cosy jumpers and socks, means we don’t have to use as much gas or electricity to heat our homes. Our grandparents and parents were right, you’re not cold, you just aren’t wearing enough.

In all seriousness though, those with illnesses, disabilities and fragility should definitely wear more and put the heating on. A friendly homemade pot of soup brought round when you’re visiting, is again, always a winner (can you tell I’m excited that it’s winter soup season?).

Have you switched to a green electricity and gas supplier yet? It’s gotten even cheaper in recent months! So if you do need to put on your heating and are inevitably using electricity more in the winter, make sure it’s green energy you’re using and save yourself some much needed cash.

Keeping yourself entertained also doesn’t have to mean that you need to watch TV all the time. Charity and secondhand shops are filled to the brim with books, jigsaws and board games others have donated, especially at this time of year, as people prepare for gifting season. Why not have some good old fashioned together time, arguing over who gets Mayfair and Picadilly in Monopoly while someone makes the hot chocolates?

playing board games hygge

Taking care of your skin

Our skin gets drier, sometimes really badly cracked and chapped as the weather gets colder. As we go from artificially warm indoors, to chilling temperatures outside regularly, our skin doesn’t seem to know what to do, other than dry up. Make sure you keep well hydrated even when it’s cold, to ensure your body and skin is kept healthy.

Plenty of fresh air (go on, make your autumnal leaf crown) helps our skin not dry up so badly, but also when it’s sunny, we still get our much needed dosage of vitamin d. The endorphins released as well as help level our hormonal balance therefore making us feel and be more balanced. Also, it just feels really good to get out and about. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing after all.

To protect the skin from the outside, buff lips with natural butters like shea or cocoa, and body and face in natural oils that will soak in the much needed moisture. The high, nourishing contents of vitamin e will make sure your skin is kept in tip top shape. You can normally find these ingredients in bulk or in glass jars that are easily reused.

natural oils zero waste

Taking care of others

This time of year as it gets colder and darker, many of our most vulnerable become even more vulnerable. Whether it’s inability to get to the shops for food, remembering to turn on the heating, remembering to look after ourselves, lack of a home, lack of family or friends to help, there are many ways we can help others to reduce this vulnerability.

Making the previously mentioned care packs can help wonderfully for those who don’t have a home, or even those with a roof over their heads but without the means to look after themselves. Volunteering your time is tough on the emotions, but the feel-good you get afterwards makes it all worth it.

Some suggestions:

  • Assisting homeless street teams or soup kitchens
  • Becoming a befriender over the phone where you call people in the morning or evening to check in on them and have a friendly conversation
  • Speaking to people when they feel at their worst to let them know that there is somebody listening to them is extremely tough, but extremely rewarding
  • Making up gift bags for children who aren’t going to receive anything from anybody else
  • Visiting elderly or single neighbours

Even just meeting up with people you haven’t connected with or heard from in a while could be the best thing to happen.

volunteering community
I hope this helps you in not only reducing some waste or your environmental impact, but also for some ideas to connect with your local community or even just to feel better if you start to feel a bit blue during the darker months.
If you liked this blog, please share and if have anymore ideas feel free to comment
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