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  • Writer's pictureGary Grewal

5 Things to Get Rid of in Fall and What to Buy Instead

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Here we are in the meat of September (or the Tofu, for my vegan friends and me). Fall is a much anticipated season for many, mostly due to the calming of unrelenting heat and humidity across our country. There is also a crowd of people who get way too excited way too early about pumpkin-spiced everything, scarves, and Halloween costumes. I'm sorry but walking by a Spirit Halloween in flip-flops after I just got done paddleboarding is weird.

And who in their right mind orders a steamy pumpkin spiced latte when it's 103 outside?

Anyway, fall is still a super amazing season, when it actually comes (formally the 3rd week of September, and it starts to feel like it in early October). It becomes hiking and cycling weather again, Trader Joe's comes out with its list of impressive autumn-themed products, and a bevy of holidays are on their way before we know it.

Fall is also a perfect time to practice conscious consumerism before your emotions get the best of you and you buy full-sleeve plaid shirts and a leaf blower when you don't even have a yard (no, your apartment balcony does not require a leaf blower).

Here are 5 things you can now get rid of, and what you can buy instead.

1. Pool floats

I'm not talking about pool noodles, those are fine if you take care of them, as they are an easy way for non-swimmers to get comfortable in the water while also taking up minimal space in storage.

I'm talking about those plastic recliners and innertubes that people take to the beach and throw in the pool. More often than not, they get holes in them over the season, and the heat breaks down the plastic (more reason to avoid plastic). People like to buy these things because they are cheap, and then don't feel bad throwing them away when they tear or get bored of them.

Yet these things are not recyclable, and very hard to dispose of properly. Not to mention there's no easy way to store them at home without risking damage. Instead of wasting money on those floating thrones year after year, maybe consider a paddleboard that you can take to the river, lake, or even your pool. It's much more durable than a thin plastic pool float, easier to store and transport, and will make you take more care of it for years to come since it costs more!

2. Gas-Powered Lawn Mower

Don't you just love waking up at 7:09 am on a Saturday to the growl of an old lawn mower that your neighbor refuses to get checked out, because "it still works"? Oh and don't forget about taking in those lovely fumes as you pass by one on your morning jog. Think you're safe if you live in a multi-family building or apartment? Think again.

Many landscape contractors use these and thirsty leaf-blowers as well to reduce costs and because there is a stigma with electric-powered mowers running out of charge (kind of like how people think electric cars won't take off because the battery could get "zapped" without notice).

Not only will you save money on gas by getting rid of this, but your neighbors might also actually invite you over for a BBQ sometime. Your health will probably also be better off not directly taking in those fumes while you stand behind it. Now if you have a large lawn, you might be better off with a gas mower since the electric range is comparably limited.

However, if you have a large lawn, that should be a signal to replace it with some drought-tolerant landscaping and save a ton on your water bill. Don't you know fresh water is becoming increasingly scarce? Not only can this save you on your water bill, but many water districts provide incentives or rebates for tearing out thirsty lawns.

Plus, you'll save time by not mowing every Saturday. And we all know how time is the most valuable asset of all.

3. Mini-fridge

Remember back in your college days, how buying a minifridge was on the list recommended by your dorm's resident housing? I remember buying one from Costco, all excited to finally have my own fridge that I could use without siblings or guests helping themselves to my hard-earned snacks and recipe leftovers.

Since most dorms don't have kitchens in each unit (I lived in a triple that had room for 3 beds, 3 desks, and 3 small closets. It was great for the first few weeks until the roommies forgot to take their Chinese food leftovers out week after week.

Fast-forward to today, and I see friends who have mini-fridges. In their homes! I tell them "Dude, why do you have a mini-fridge in your office/garage/backyard when the kitchen is 10 steps away?" They tell me everything from it's too far to walk when you're just hanging out, the kitchen fridge gets full, or I like to keep beer and drinks cold when we are out on the deck.

Fair enough, but there's a much easier solution to this. Just get a portable cooler. Why have an appliance that's plugged in 24/7 that you don't use that often when you could use your cooler doubling as a mini-fridge?

My favorite is the YETI (sure, call me a basic millennial) because it can maintain its temperature for days (yes, days). Buying these kinds of items can be pricey upfront, but if you buy it consciously (visualizing how you will incorporate it into your lifestyle, or if an existing alternative will do), then it can be a worthwhile investment.

So, sell your minifridge, and then you and whisk your cooler from the garage to the backyard, and then to the lake. You can't plug in your mini-fridge at the lake now, can you?

4. Your Spice Rack

This one may seem odd, but it's true. Because most people don't use their spices that often, they tend to be overlooked in terms of cleaning out the pantry. Even though expired spices may not get you sick, their pungency declines. The last thing you want to do is sweat over a gourmet meal, only to have the taste fall flat because the spices expired over a year ago.

If you live in a small space, consider placing your spices in a row on top of the oven range controls, labels facing out. Or, if that unsightliness bothers you, consider investing in a rack like this that you can place behind the cabinet door.

5. Outdoor Gear

Let's take a trip back to April when you were budding with excitement about all the things you wanted to do this summer. You scoured social media, researched the best products, and started adding things to your cart. You bought a boogie board, tent, camping chairs, umbrella, and hiking boots.

Now, here we are at the end of summer. Are any of those things still unopened? If so, your first step is to try and return them. Then, slap your own wrist for impulse buying instead of focusing on conscious consumption!

Remember, you can always rent many outdoor products like tents, sleeping bags, kayaks, and mountain bikes. REI is one of my favorite go-to spots for very affordable rentals and generous rental policies.

You can also ask a friend to borrow something first, or try an app like Mooch to rent from someone. If you're set on buying, remember outdoor gear is not the same as a mattress or TV. Used can be just as good as new if it was treated properly.

These are durable items, meant to handle the elements, so use good judgment and buy quality brands used with confidence. Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and even REI have used/returned goods at heavy discounts.


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