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7 small changes that make a big difference toward saving the planet

It can be as simple as taking a walk instead of driving, or turning down the thermostat.
/ Source: TODAY

Congratulations! You’ve slashed your use of plastics in half and you only meat once or twice a week, if at all. What's next?

Take a look at the numerous other steps you can make to help your daily routine become more environmentally friendly. Even the smallest changes can make a big difference!

1. Use less paper. Swap out paper napkins with cloth ones at the dining table. Instead of cleaning off the countertop with a paper towel, grab a dish towel instead.

2. Drive less. It’s not an option for everyone, but if possible, walk, ride your bike, carpool or take public transportation to work or wherever your designation.

Crossing the Street with the bicycle
Ditch the car whenever possible to help conserve energy and reduce carbon emissions.Getty Images stock

3. Go with the (low) flow. Consider installing a low-flow showerhead, which uses significantly less water and energy than a traditional one. Low-flow showerheads also pay for themselves within a few short months, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

4. Don’t burn out. Swap out old light bulbs with energy-efficient ones. The most popular are halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). These types may cost more than traditional incandescent bulbs, but they ultimately save you money because they last longer and use less energy.

5. Turn up (or down) the heat. Turning back your home thermostat by 7-10 degrees for eight hours a day can save as much as 10% on heating and cooling costs — and reduce energy waste, according to the federal Energy Department.

Thermostat, Home Energy Saving
Scaling back the thermostat can save energy — and money.Getty Images stock

Installing a programmable thermostat, one that can automatically adjust the temperature depending on the time of day, also can help you live greener.

6. Buy used. Shop at second-hand stores whenever possible for clothing, furniture or household appliances. You usually find it’s easier to avoid wasteful packaging when you buy from a thrift or resale shop.

7. Compost. If you have a yard, a compost heap will give you better soil while also providing a place to rid your food scraps. If you don’t have a yard, you can compost in your kitchen, although an increasing number of municipalities now offer green waste pickup.

Take the TODAY pledge: What’s the one green thing you’ll try this week to help the planet?