Eco-friendly fall activities to do with friends

photo of the UCB student organic garden
Lisi Ludwig/File

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Fall has arrived, and it is in full swing. The usual return to pumpkin spiced lattes can certainly be seen and sweater weather is the perfect opportunity to rock cozy layered outfits. While I personally find slight annoyance in the shorter days and colder nights, there is a lot to look forward to. The autumn holidays are here: Halloween and Thanksgiving. And the season lends itself to many fun activities to do with friends and family. This year, try out these fall activities that are both fun and environmentally conscious to keep both you and the Earth happy.

Visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard

Looking for a day-trip activity? Gather your friends and find a local apple orchard or pumpkin patch that practices eco-friendly agricultural practices. Choosing to buy locally forgoes the hefty carbon footprint associated with overseas transport or semitruck travel. There are many great farms to pick from in the Bay Area and surrounding area but here are a few great picks: Arata’s Pumpkin Farm is a local farm and pumpkin patch located in Half Moon Bay that is San Mateo County’s oldest sustainable pumpkin farm and Apple-a-Day is a family-run apple orchard located in Sebastopol that is also committed to using environmentally friendly methods. At your local farm, you can carefully pick fresh apples to be made into apple pie or homemade apple cider and personally choose your pumpkin for carving. It’s also possible to then reuse your jack-o-lantern for making a pumpkin pie but make sure to save the seeds for roasting! 

Thrift fall clothes and donate/recycle summer clothes

The days are getting colder and it’s time to pull out the hoodies and jeans. The most environmentally-friendly option is to upcycle and customize what’s already in your closet. However, if you are truly in need of a new jacket, the thrift store is the perfect place to make a second-hand purchase. While you are looking for that new jacket, this is also the perfect opportunity to find something suitable for your Halloween costume. Unneeded summer clothes can also be donated to the local Goodwill and those unsuitable for donation centers can be taken to a textile recycling center. 

Head outside for a hike 

The air is crisp and the outdoors are calling. No gas or emissions are needed, only the power of your legs to guide you. While the summer sun is always welcome, it can also be a thorn in your side when hiking steep, winding trails. Hiking during the fall brings many benefits: The trails will be less crowded, the temperature is perfect for exercising and the scenery is new and refreshing. Head over toward the Marina to visit the McLaughlin Eastshore State Park for a calming walk along the shoreline or head towards the hills to visit Tilden Regional Park for breath-taking views of the forested hills surrounding Berkeley. And no matter the season, always make sure to leave no trace!

Just stay home

Forget the heater and grab a throw blanket to stay warm. Sometimes staying inside is the most eco-friendly way to spend a fall afternoon, especially if rain is pouring outside. This is the perfect opportunity to turn the jack-o-lantern into pumpkin pie and stay warm with a hot glass of apple cider from the apple orchard. Bundle up under some blankets and gather around the TV with friends to binge that one TV show you have all meant to get around to.

In any case, this list of eco-friendly fall activities is only the beginning of the endless possibilities out there. I hope this will help kick-start your fall to make the most of this special season. But if midterms prove to be too time-consuming this time around, remember there’s always next year!

Contact Adrian Fontao at [email protected].