The Earth is dying.

Did that catch your attention? I would sincerely hope it would, but I'm afraid it's a message that too many of us have become desensitized to. How many times have you scrolled through your Twitter or Facebook feed only to barely skim your eyes over the post after post of messages similar to this one? Exactly.

It's pretty easy to like a few motivational pictures on Instagram about saving the ocean, to retweet a thread showing you images of wildlife we've harmed with our careless waste, or to share that video of Bill Nye setting a globe on fire and yelling at us to get a clue. What's meaningful and useful, however, is actually putting forth the effort to make a change. Actions speak louder than words; so far it seems that we're just all talk and no walk.

You might believe that you can't make a difference, that you making any contribution at all will not help in the grand scheme of things. That's such a sad and pessimistic way to think. Every contribution, no matter how big or small, is a step in the right direction. It's not even just your actions that will help, but you will also be setting an example for others. Your decision to make smarter, more environmentally friendly choices can and will inspire others to follow your lead.

There are a number of small and incredibly simple ways you can become more sustainable and help the planet. Here are a few examples, just so you can get the idea: stop using plastic straws and utensils, use reusable containers/water bottles/travel cups, stop drinking cow milk, try to eat at least one vegan meal a day, recycle, use bamboo toothbrushes, and try using bar soap or bar shampoo in the shower. These may all seem like silly or even pointless changes to some people, but they really do add up. Especially when these small changes turn into a lifestyle.

Want to know something bigger we can do than just recycling and avoiding using single-use plastics? Here are a few examples of policy ideas that governments can start enacting to make a difference: putting restrictions on air conditioners with high global warming potential or requiring a limit/reduction of HFCs, transition to electric only transportation, creating more walkable communities so it is easier to live without cars, create policies that restrict food waste (such as bans on throwing it in landfills or fees if you do), and establish a carbon tax.

There is a multitude of choices that we have to pick from. Big or small, we can make a change to help our planet before it's too late. Start making changes in your own lives, encourage others to do the same, and start getting on legislators to make and push policies that matter.

Mother Nature needs us. We're all that she has and we've let her down for far too long.