You probably don’t need us to tell you how to spend your holiday. But if you’re looking for something to do, we humbly present this list of ideas. We don’t expect you to try them all, but at least give number 9 a chance.
1. Go to a farmers’ market.
Harvest time is heading into high gear, so there’s no better time to head to a nearby farmers’ market and stock up on fresh, tasty edibles. You’ll not only get great field-fresh food; you’ll also support your local economy—and help fight global warming, since locally produced food comes without the carbon emissions required to truck it across the continent. Look for food grown with organic methods, and you avoid ingesting harmful chemicals and also support agriculture that adds carbon to the soil instead of releasing it into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. Now’s also a good time to sign up for a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, so you can get farm-fresh food every week.
2. Dig a root cellar.
Not sure where or how to store all the fresh produce you got at the farmers’ market? A root cellar could be the answer. Don’t worry—you don’t have to literally dig one out of the ground (though you could, if you’re looking for a weekend project). Odds are there’s a cool, dark space somewhere in your home that will do: a shelf in the basement, an unused closet, even space under your porch.
3. Avoid overeating.
Most holidays have a strong food component, and with its various buffets, cookouts, and picnics, Labor Day weekend is no exception. So follow the healthy-eating advice we offered back on July 4. Simple tactics like choosing smaller plates and keeping a count of your drinks can have a big impact on your calorie intake. And when it comes to overeating, keep the big picture in mind: Most of the food we’re exposed to has been pumped up with extra fat, sugar, and salt to play on our biologically hard-wired food cravings.
4. Get ready for fall allergies.
If you’e prone to autumn allergies, ragweed and other triggers may already have you sneezing. Arm yourself with some easy nondrug allergy remedies that will cut down on the need for pills. Make sure your diet includes foods rich in folate, a B vitamin that seems to protect against allergies. And learn about some things you can do around the house to prepare for fall allergy season.
5. Get Busy.
Labor Day may not be as romantic as, say, Valentine’s Day, but time off is time off. If you and your partner can spend some time between the sheets, you’ll gain all sorts of ecofriendly fashion. Make it a habit, and you might find things less stressful when the holiday’s over and you’re back at work. If the timing’s not right, don’t worry—you’ll have plenty of other opportunities if you make sure your sex life lasts a lifetime. And if no live partner’s available, try good vibrations from a battery-powered bedmate.
6. Do some late-season gardening.
It’s not too late in the year to get your hands dirty, even if you don’t live in a southern part of the country. Good late-summer garden projects include planting garlic, installing a birdbath, or digging next year’s beds. You can also start a compost pile to build up some natural fertilizer for next year’s garden. If your garden’s lush right now, take an inventory of how high everything’s grown, and build some homemade supports and trellises that will give next year’s crop a lift. Or start your fall garden cleanup so your soil will he healthy and ready come spring.
7. Clean with vinegar.
If you’re using some of the extended weekend to get some housecleaning done, try out the cheap, easy, ecosafe alternative to harsh chemical cleansers. Fast becoming the second-favorite liquid of the Rodale.com staff (water is number 1, of course), vinegar has all kinds of awesome uses. For basic cleaning, 1 part vinegar to 9 parts water will wipe out germs and grime. Mix vinegar with other natural ingredients to make specialized cleaners that cost a fraction of the toxic stuff you get at the stores.
8. Try canning or pickling.
With some basic supplies and traditional canning techniques, you can preserve your favorite summer fruits and vegetables to enjoy in fall and winter. Check out Rodale.com's Nickel Pincher for a canning primer that you can use to make fruit preserves and jellies. You can apply the same skills to other fruit canning recipes, and try canning some tomatoes and pasta sauces. Or try your hand at pickling.
Maybe you’re one of those people who have trouble unwinding after a busy week. A great way to signal to your body that it’s time to relax is to spend some time in nature, so hang out outside as much as you can. Try a calming beverage and review our list of holiday stress-busters, which, though December-oriented, could also apply to anyone who’s running around buying charcoal or struggling with the logistics of one last desperate beach weekend. Anyway, those end-of-the year holidays will be here before you know it.