How big is your environmental footprint? Are you unknowingly causing a lot of damage to the environment through all of your daily habits: driving a gas-guzzling vehicle, generating a lot of plastic and food waste, burning through natural gas and electricity, and so much more?
The truth is that most of us have a larger environmental imprint than we realize! The things we do cause more harm to the planet than we know. That’s why it’s so important that we all actively take steps to reduce our imprint on the planet and do our part to protect the environment.
No, that doesn’t mean you need to go on a “green crusade” or overhaul your lifestyle. Instead, we’ve come up with a few small actions that can do wonders to reduce your environmental imprint one day at a time. Quick, easy, and simple, these actions will help you be a whole lot greener without needing to change your life radically!
Stop using straws.
Here’s a scary fact: up to 175 million straws  are used every day, accounting for an estimated 3% of the waste currently in the ocean. Waste that is increased by anywhere from 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons every year!
Plastic causes all kinds of damage to the ocean—from poisoning marine life to strangling or choking animals to killing off coral reefs. Straws are just one of the many forms of plastic thrown into the ocean because there’s just too much plastic garbage for it to be processed or stored in garbage dumps.
If everyone in the world stopped using plastic straws, the amount of plastic garbage generated each year would be reduced by millions of metric tons. Definitely a good reason for you and your family to stop using straws!
Bring your own coffee cup.
It’s estimated that 16 billion disposable coffee cups  are used every year. That’s not just the cups, but also the plastic lids and the plastic used to laminate the cup’s interior. As you can imagine, that is a terribly high amount of waste generated by people getting their morning cup of coffee.
If you’re going in to Starbucks or your favorite local coffee shop, consider bringing in your own coffee cup rather than generating more waste. It’s just as easy to fill and will drastically reduce your environmental imprint by the end of the year.
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Store your food in glass containers.
Say no to plastic Tupperware and containers! It’s just more waste that will eventually get thrown into a garbage dump or end up in the ocean.
Instead, buy yourself glass containers for storing your food in your fridge. Glass containers have a significantly longer lifespan and can be recycled far more easily than plastic. Plus, they will look far classier sitting in your fridge or on your shelf!
Keep your car in good shape.
When your car’s air filter is dirty, your engine starts emitting more carbon that can damage the environment. If your engine’s not running properly or your tires are low on air, you will use up more gasoline per mile than you would with a car in tip-top shape! Idling on the side of the road will waste gas, so turn off your car.
Practice energy-saving habits.
Turn the heating down a degree or two in the winter, and turn the A/C down a degree or two in summer. Unplug any electronics when they are not in use, and turn off the lights in your home whenever you’re out of the room. Hang your clothes to dry rather than using an electric or gas-powered dryer. Clean out your fridge and defrost your freezer regularly to ensure they’re not using more energy than is needed.
Instead of purchasing plastic-wrapped food or food transported from overseas (incurring high fuel costs), try shopping for local foods. Visit your farmer’s markets to purchase products from local farmers and vendors. Not only will you avoid most of the plastic wrapping and Styrofoam packaging, but you’ll encourage commerce in your area.
Water is a commodity most of us take for granted, but it’s one we all need to be more aware of. Take shorter showers, run your dishwasher only when it’s full, and make sure that you do only large loads of laundry. Instead of washing your car at home, take your vehicle to a commercial car wash—they use less water to wash your vehicle than you would doing the job at home. Keep an eye out for any leaks in your home and repair them immediately to avoid wasting water. Consider growing low-water, drought-tolerant plants in your garden rather than plants that need regular watering.
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