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  • Writer's picturecathy king

Sustainable preparation to love and enjoy the autumn wonders!

Updated: Sep 15, 2023


A quiet Autumn road with fall colors in New England
Autumn in New England

As many of you know, I typically adhere to the 5 R’s (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle) in my sustainability practices.

A picture of The Sustainable Organizer prioritization of the 5R's.
The 5 R's

I mention this in the context of preparing for autumn because the concept of ‘Reduce’ struck a chord with me when I realized I had not placed my summer outdoor furniture outside for the second year in a row. This was as good a time as any for us to determine what we genuinely wish to keep and what we should let go of at our home.

Given that my husband and I are planning to downsize at some point, coupled with my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, thinking about these types of decisions has become more frequent. My new reality requires me to simplify tasks that drain my energy, as well as prioritize their importance. Prioritizing energy-efficient activities is one way to enhance my sustainability and ensure that I have the energy to complete essential tasks. Now, let’s explore my preparations for autumn.

Review Your Possessions and Ask Some Questions.

  • Was it used? If not, why? Life transitions, such as family members moving to new homes, often lead to underused belongings. In my case, we had a pool in the backyard when our boys were growing up, which we removed a few years ago. We didn’t give much thought to the now-underutilized patio furniture left behind. We have now taken action by letting it go through Facebook free and marketplace.

  • If you were moving, would you take that item with you to your new location? If not, now is an opportune moment to pass it on to a new home.

  • Be honest, Do you really still need it, or do you simply want it? We often hang onto items due to the investment we made or the fear of needing them again, even if we rarely used them.


After completing the Reduction process, you can then move on to getting the yard and house ready for the changing season. Create a Winterization Checklist and Schedule:

Here is my list of tasks that may be beneficial:

* Store summer garden decorations for next year. * Safely stow patio furniture and cushions. * Put away non-winter fireplace/fire pit equipment. * Empty patio pots and store them if winter water expansion could cause damage. * Winterize summer machinery, such as lawnmowers, weed wackers, pressure washers etc. * Close the pond and irrigation system. * Clear the downspouts and gutters. * Drain hoses and store them.

* If necessary, shut off water to faucets at risk of freezing, and cap them. * Don’t forget to check if your snow blower needs any maintenance and ensure winter shovels are readily accessible.


Of course, there are numerous other steps to maintain the sustainability of our home and yard, preventing unnecessary wear and tear. That’s why it is important to dedicate five to ten minutes of quiet time to create your own list, allowing you to work through a plan to preserve your space at your own pace rather than under pressure.

Do You Need to Inspect Autumn and Winter Holiday Decorations?

Believe it or not, I review and make sure that my outdoor holiday decorations for Halloween and Christmas are organized and ready for use when the time comes. Sometimes critters can cause damage, or lights may need testing for dead bulbs or damaged wires. Once again, I will follow many of the same questions from above for the decorations. If they do not get used again, I will seriously consider donating them.

Halloween decorations that are ready to deploy.
Halloween Decorations

Did you know I do not put up my outdoor Halloween decorations until I check the weather forecast? One year we had almost a foot of snow and another year, we had a hurricane, both of which could have damaged the decorations. I love early holiday decorating, but I don’t want to replace items due to weather damage.


Once the outdoor gardens have been closed. While I have certainly cut back on the extent of my outdoor gardening, now is the time when I trim the shrubs and trees that require attention before the winter snow arrives. Annual plants that should be removed will be composted, to prepare the beds for spring. If I have the time and energy, I will pull any large weeds now, with the hope that they do not return in the spring.

Tower Garden that is being tested for winter gardening.
Tower Garden

I have expanded my indoor gardening with a grow tower, and now is the time to prepare the seeds. I now have home-grown greens year-round, rather than purchasing greens in plastic, where the quality of the product can be unpredictable. This will be my first attempt at growing vegetables beyond lettuce during the winter, so let's see how it goes. Stay tuned for updates


Remember, that this is just meant to be a reminder list to help you ease through autumn at your own speed so that you can still take the time to enjoy the seasonal change. The more we can take care of the “stuff” that we already have, the less we will need to replace or purchase, thereby making us more sustainable. As the saying goes, ‘Autumn shows how beautiful it is to let things go.’~author unknown


Owner of The Sustainable Organizer (Sustainability expert)


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