Global warming is coming for us hard and fast. Many areas of the world are already experiencing signs of climate change, and scientists have given dire warnings that if the population doesn’t start reconsidering the way we treat our environment, we’re going to suffer for it. Sustainable living needs to be the way of the future.

Living an eco-friendly life may seem like a daunting challenge, but it can actually be less tough than you might think… and can even end up saving you some money in the process! Here are some of the quickest and easiest ways to go green in your life right now.

1. Invest in a reusable water bottle.

Seems like an overly simple tip, but if every person made this simple change it would affect a massive reversal in the pollution that contributes to global warming. Americans can use up to 50 billion bottles of water per year, with the average citizen using about 167 bottles each. And unfortunately, very few of those are getting recycled.

By switching to a reusable water bottle, you’re not only helping to cut back on the level of plastic pollution and oil usage, but you’d also be saving yourself a ton of money. Bottled water can cost up to 2000 times more than tap water. By sticking with a reusable bottle that you fill yourself, you can potentially save hundreds of dollars per year. And if you don’t like the taste of your tap water, there are plenty of options to find reusable bottles with filters to help improve the taste (like this Brita water bottle available on Amazon for $13). Just make sure to invest in a bottle that’s BPA-free so that you avoid polluting your body as well as the environment.

2. Switch to bar soaps in the shower.

Again, such a simple piece of advice might not seem like it would have a big impact, but it does. Liquid soaps and body washes gained popularity after concerns were raised about whether bar soaps would spread bacteria (hint: they don’t. That’s the point of soap). But liquid soaps are actually the opposite of eco-friendly. Most of them are made with petroleum, the production and use of which is one of the leading causes of pollution; and the plastic bottles used to market them are a double whammy on the environment. According to a study done on bar soap vs. liquid soap, the latter was found to have a carbon footprint 25% higher than that of bar soap.

And don’t worry; you don’t have to settle for the same boring, white bars that our grandparents were stuck with. Stores like Lush have bar soaps available in all sorts of colors and scents, and many of them have the same features that we’ve come to love in our body washes: exfoliating, moisturizing, etc. You can also do the same thing with shampoos, are bar shampoos are quickly rising in competition to traditional liquid options.

3. Have one meat-free day a week.

In the U.S., the production and consumption of meat is a huge market. Beef, in particular, leads the charge, which is unfortunate as beef requires roughly 28 times more land and 11 times more water to produce than chicken or pork. Raising cattle for beef also puts about 11 times more carbon emissions into the air. In fact, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the meat industry generates more than one-fifth of all the man-made greenhouse gases worldwide… which is more than the emissions from every car and vehicle out on the road!

By having one veggie day a week, you can help reduce the demand for these products and massively help reduce pollution. Taking meat and cheese off the menu for just one day a week would be roughly the equivalent of taking your car off of the road for five weeks! If everyone in the U.S. followed suit, it’s estimated that the environmental impact would be like taking 7.6 million cars off of the road.

If you need help finding tasty and affordable alternatives to meaty meals, you can check out sites like Pinterest, which often have step-by-step instructions for easy recipes.

4. Go Paperless.

Many banks and businesses now have an option to “go paperless,” meaning that you can opt to receive all of your statements and bills online, rather than having them mailed to you. Selecting this option not only cuts down on the clutter in your home, but helps to save the trees… which is of course essential to living a green life.

This option is also available for most newspapers and magazines as well, and many publications will offer discounts for customers who choose to receive their weekly or monthly issues electronically rather than in the mail.

5. Carpool!

According to the most recent statistics, it takes the average American citizen about 26 minutes to get to work each day… which is the highest average commuting time yet. You can cut down on your carbon footprint by carpooling with coworkers or with friends/ neighbors who work in your area.

Plus, not only is carpooling better for the environment, but you get to shorten your time on the road by using all of those empty carpooling lanes… and can cut down on costs by having your passengers chip in for gas!

6. Make your home energy efficient.

This can be accomplished in just a few easy steps. First, keeping your thermostat set to a few degrees lower in the winter (think like 70oF) and a few degrees higher in the summer (think 75oF) will massively cut down on the amount of energy you use for climate control… and you’ll see that change reflected in your bills, too. Some climate control systems also have an option to shut down or go to sleep while you’re away at work; there’s no sense in heating or cooling an empty home, after all!

And while most new homes are already equipped with them, switching your bulbs over to LEDs rather than traditional incandescent lights will help you to save on your electrical bill and reduce the amount of energy to light up your place. Also, LEDs last up to 50 times longer than incandescent bulbs, so you’ll be saving on replacements, too.

Other small steps- like shutting down your computers or devices when you’re not using them, rather than letting them rest in sleep mode- will all help to cut down on energy costs, which in turn helps to minimize the pollution in our environment.

Taking care of the environment is everyone’s responsibility, but following easy tips like these make going green a breeze. So start the new year off right by reducing your carbon footprint! All it takes is a little awareness and changing some bad habits into good ones. Best of all, with these tips you’ll not only be helping to save the environment, but you’ll be saving your wallet as well!

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