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Finding your fall routine: 5 ways to sustainably embrace the season

2020 has been anything but a “typical” year, and this fall has offered no exception. With some kids going to school in-person, some through distance learning, and others doing a hybrid version, “back to school” didn’t quite have the same feel to it as in years past. The same can be said for many adults who are still working from home and will be for the foreseeable future. They may be home caring for kids while trying to work, and perhaps even teaching them. With so much going on, it’s a challenge getting into a regular fall routine and easy to abandon existing sustainable practices.

So, how in the midst of “abnormal” can we (attempt to) get back to some sort of fall routine that’s familiar yet sustainable? From school shopping to personalizing your home office and more, here are 5 ways to make sure this season doesn’t fall short.

1. School shopping

Fall routine school shopping

Let’s face it, school shopping looks a little different this year. Sometimes it can feel like you’re constantly shopping for your kids, and this year, with distance learning, you may find you need additional tech devices as well beyond what school provides. That can add up quickly. A great way to save money throughout the school year and get the gear you need is to shop secondhand. You still get all the things you need at a fraction of the cost of new. Here are a few items you maybe didn’t think to do or buy secondhand for back to school:


School clothes shopping is definitely one of those fall rituals that gets kids excited to go back to school. Even if your child is at home this year and can’t show off their new shirt to their friends and classmates in person, you can still try to recreate that feeling at home by visiting your local thrift store to find some fun clothing options that they can display virtually. Especially since they grow out of things so quickly, it makes sense to shop secondhand for clothing. Not only will you find some great quality pieces, possibly even name brands, but you won’t be paying full price. The bonus? You avoid buying brand new, which reduces the demand for natural resources to create new garments.

Related Reading: 7 Tips for Creating Your Zero Waste Wardrobe


It can be a real challenge when you have kids who are distance-learning or homeschooling while you or your spouse might also be working from home. If you find yourself in need of an additional computer, tablet, or monitor, you can save yourself stress and money by checking out some of your local secondhand tech shops to get the equipment you need.

Or maybe you have extra equipment that just needs a little TLC. If you have computer equipment that’s broken, look for repair options. You can sign up for Hennepin County's Virtual Repair Assistance, consult for a variety of fix-it manuals  or visit a local repair shop to try and extend the life of your electronics.

Sports gear

With sports up in the air this year, you may or may not even need to buy gear but, if you do, we suggest checking out used options. Especially if there’s a chance your child’s sport might start and stop this year or if they’re just beginning in the sport. Whether it’s a local thrift store, used sporting goods store, or a friend whose kid no longer plays sports, there are definitely alternatives to paying full price for sports gear.

Musical instruments

Is the idea of saving money music to your ears? Well, the easiest way to save money on musical instruments is to buy used ones or rent-to-own. Especially if your child is just starting in their musical endeavors, it’s best to ease into them before you go out and buy brand new, expensive equipment for a hobby they may or may not keep up.

Not sure where to shop for these items? Check out your local reuse retailers here.

2. Personalize your home office

Fall routine home office

For many, the pandemic means working from home - perhaps for the very first time. Maybe you or your spouse will be working from home for the remainder of the year, or longer. If you’re going to be there for a while, you might as well make the most of your space by decorating, customizing, and gearing up with the supplies you need.


If your work doesn’t supply the additional tech you need, or you simply want more for your home office, avoid the price tag of new and check out some new or refurbished options. There are great options for used or refurbished computer equipment out there.


Maybe your kid hijacked your desk for distance learning, or your spouse did while they’re working from home. Visit your local used furniture store, home improvement outlet, or furniture rental store for stylish yet affordable options on furniture. That way, you can furnish your home office or working space without breaking the bank.


Photos, art, vases, lights, or other fun decorative pieces can make your home office feel much more inviting. Since you’ll likely be spending a lot of time here, you want it to be a place you enjoy.

Like back-to-school shopping, make sure to look at the materials you already have around the house that you could repurpose or use for a fun DIY craft project, or explore secondhand options before buying new.

3. Do fun, sustainable fall activities

Fall routine fun and sustainable

Fall is about more than just buying clothes, tech and décor though. We encourage you to get out and experience fall more than you purchase things for it. While some of your fall favorites might look a little different this year, there’s still plenty of fun fall activities to participate in, safely, sustainably and enjoy this season.

4. Create DIY crafts

Fall routine DIY crafts

The hot summer days are long gone and replaced with crisp fall air, making it a perfect time to create fun crafts indoors. That doesn’t mean you have to run to the local craft store and stock up on arts and crafts supplies, though. You may have plenty of crafting opportunities right inside your home without even realizing it.

Related Reading: DIY for the Environment

Things like broken picture frames, old furniture, or other everyday household items can likely be restored or repurposed instead of throwing them in the trash. That way, not only will you prevent these items from ending up in a landfill, you’re also able to get a great craft out of them.

To get you inspired, consider making this fun fall craft from DIY&Crafts to turn broken terracotta into pumpkins that are perfect for fall! You just have to make small pieces and then put together a mosaic-like look on a foam ball. They are easy to make, and far better than throwing those broken plates and planters in the trash.

5. Get outdoors for your workout

Fall routine outdoor workouts

Just because swimsuit season is over doesn’t mean you should pack up your workout gear just yet. Your regular fall routine might include a gym membership or working out indoors. But with many gyms either closed, at limited capacity, or just something you want to avoid, it might not be a bad idea to look for alternatives. One option is to get outdoors for your workout. It can be as simple as:

  • Going for a walk, a run, or a hike
  • Taking a yoga class outdoors
  • Jumping rope in your driveway or a park
  • Going for a bike ride
  • Rollerblading
  • Walking your dog
  • Pushing your child in a stroller
  • And more!

These are some great ways to stay active and get fresh air while avoiding close quarters with others. If you’re feeling underequipped for the cold weather, your local reuse shops will have some great options at affordable prices. Or maybe you already have outdoor gear that just needs some repair? Check out Repair Lair and get your gear back in shape.

Sure, this fall might feel different than previous years, but don’t let that throw you off course and out of your fall routine. Incorporating some of these tips will help you stay on track, embrace the season and have the added benefits of saving money and helping the environment this fall. A season that should be full of fun, fresh air, baked goods, and more.