Making change for the better can take time, but it is never “too late” to start being an environmental warrior. We only have one planet, and we must treat it right. Sometimes we just need to know where to start to begin reducing our impact on Mother Nature. Now that we are coming upon spring, (right? the snow will stop soon, won’t it?!) we can look forward to inspiring days like Earth Hour and Arbor Day to keep us motivated.

We all know to recycle, keep the lights off as much as possible, wash in cold water, and other small steps. Combined together, these add up to bigger changes, and who knows, perhaps you will become the first in your neighborhood to run your home on solar panels or go “off the grid.”

If you have just an hour each week, you can start to help the environment. If you have more than that, that’s wonderful! Either way, these little steps will soon become second nature, and creating lasting changes for the betterment of our planet will become a part of your everyday life.

1. Eat a Plant-Based Meal

When it comes to eating meat, there are huge environmental repercussions. For example, did you know that producing just one calorie of animal protein uses more than ten times the fossil fuel required to create one calorie of plant protein? In addition, animal agriculture is held accountable for 18 percent of the total release of greenhouse  gases worldwide, which is more than all transportation methods in the world combined.

That’s pretty scary, and it’s a pretty inefficient use of our planet’s resources. Check out this helpful infographic that breaks down the ways a plant-based diet can help reduce your environmental impact, and for easy recipe inspiration, you know we’ve got you covered. One Green Planet is your go-to spot for plant-based recipes.

2. Buy Local

Whether it’s at the grocery store, or for other purchases like clothes or furniture, buying local reduces the amount of time your product ravels, thereby reducing the amount of pollution released in the transportation process. Easy ways to do this include checking out your farmer’s market, or looking for a local section in your grocery store. Perhaps you even have an entirely local grocery store! You can also get clothing and furniture second-hand, reducing even further your environmental impact, and probably saving you money! Whenever you shop, always bring your reusable bag as well — they can carry more than their conventional counterparts and help conserve resources and protect planet.

3. Power Down 

In addition to always turning off electronics and lights when not in use, swap an hour of TV or computer time for reading or some other activity (game night, anyone?!) that doesn’t require electricity. Join the Earth Hour movement to learn more about electricity use and how we can help the planet with simple changes to alternative energy.

4. Start Composting 

We know that recycling is an easy step to take to help the environment, but we sometimes forget about the importance of composting. You might think (as I once did) that it doesn’t matter much if you compost because the organic matter will breakdown anyways in the landfill. However, as pointed out in “5 Reasons Why Composting is the Greenest Thing You Can Do” in reality, “Waste lies stagnant in landfill sites where the vital oxygen that is needed to facilitate the decaying process cannot reach it.” When you compost, not only are you avoiding the landfill, but compost use has further benefits such as, “Increasing the nutrient content in soils and helping them to retain moisture; suppressing plant diseases and pests, eliminating the need for chemical fertilisers and pesticides, while promoting crop- and plant-growth.” It’s pretty easy to start implementing at home, just look into what method works best for you. An inexpensive indoor composter can start at around $40, while an outdoor composter can range from $30-$200.

5. Plant a Tree

Planting a tree is the classic answer to, What can you do to help the environment?” While this activity may take a little more than an hour, you can certainly break up the process over time. Perhaps in the first week, look into which native tree would do well in your area, and if there are any regulations as to where you can plant around your home. During the following week, visit your local gardening center to discuss planting methods and care for the young tree’s beginnings. In that third week, hit the dirt! Enjoy your time outside giving back to the environment. Looking for inspiration and tips? Visit the Arbor Day Foundation to learn more about the benefits of trees and helpful planting tips.

6. Clean Without Chemicals

Not only do conventional cleaning products make your home smell like a chem lab, they’re not easy on the environment. According to “10 Household Products You Should Never Buy Again, with DIY Alternatives,“some still contain unnatural chemicals including known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors (affecting hormones and causing behavior, development, growth and reproduction problems), and/or neurotoxins. Furthermore, each time a new product is purchased we consume yet more plastic.” Visit the above link for many DIY cleaning ideas, or check out this list for the best all-natural cleaning products for your home.

7. Spread the Word

As always, when you are making a positive change for the world, getting other people involved multiplies your impact. Make this a fun weekly challenge between you and friends, blog about your experience making the switch to a greener lifestyle, or post about your progress on Facebook. We’d love to hear what changes you’ve made to help the planet! Good luck, Green Monsters!

Image source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region / Flickr