The problem with caring for the environment is that when most people say they do, they don't really mean it. Think about the last time you went to Starbucks. Did you throw your plastic cup out, or did you take it home with you to recycle? I realize taking products like that home isn't convenient, but think about how many people toss their plastic in the trash simply because there isn't a receptacle for it. It's not every other person who throws plastic away either, it's everyone. That adds up to a lot of discarded plastic over time.

But if recycling really isn't your forte, there are other small practices that can make your lifestyle more sustainable. Let's take grocery shopping for example; buying organic, if you have the funds to do so, helps by reducing pesticides. The issue here is that runoff from farming carries the pesticides into watersheds, contaminating water sources and other ecosystems not accustomed to the chemicals. If supporting the local economy is another concern of yours, shopping at farmers' markets not only helps those nearby, but it also reduces gas needed for transportation and emissions from traveling. Reusable bags are sustainable as well. Making sure to use them instead of paper or plastic reduces environmental impact in the long run. The resources and energy needed up front are higher for reusable bags—which is true for any reusable item— but over time, the resources and energy needed for paper and plastic are higher.

As for water, taking shorter showers lowers water usage. Freshwater is a renewable resource, but the amount we use needs to be proportionate to the amount the earth replenishes. The best change anyone can make to save water is to become a vegetarian. I know, I know, but what about taco Tuesday? The issue here is that the water needed to produce the meat you're eating is higher than any other activity you could take part in. Cows above all other meat sources take the blame. The water is used for the cows and the grains they eat. The water each individual cow needs is coupled with the increase in beef demand. Over time, more and more water is needed. So maybe you can't commit to being a vegetarian, but I'm sure eating one less burger a week won't be as bad as it sounds.

Finally, there are single-use products. Silverware and styrofoam plates can't be recycled. We use them once and toss them out because once it's out of sight, out of mind... where it then sits in a landfill until it breaks down into smaller pieces of plastic that never truly degrade. It's a happy picture, isn't it? If you can, bring your own silverware, and if you think that's too weird, ask not to be given plastic silverware with your take out. It's as simple as that. As for straws, simply ask your waiter not to give any to your table, or when you go to Starbucks ask for a strawless cup.

Small changes like this can make your lifestyle much more sustainable and with minimal effort.