Although caring for the environment is a year-round venture, Earth Day is always an important reminder that we’ve only got one planet. The good news is that you don’t have to surrender your car and move to an emu farm in order to make an impact. In fact, you can dramatically reduce your carbon footprint just by making a few small changes to your everyday life.  Let’s take a look at 5 easy ways to save the planet.

1. Cut the plastic

It’s no secret that plastic is a problem for the environment — and our health. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to start reducing your plastic use: switch to reusable, BPA-free water bottles and food containers. It not only gives our air and oceans a break, but it also ends up saving you money (those single water bottle purchases add up!). You can also buy a water-filter pitcher for at-home use. Contrary to popular belief, store-bought bottled water isn’t much different from what comes out of the tap unfiltered.

2. Carpool!

Let’s do some math on carbon emissions. What’s better for the air: 5 cars on the road or 1? Though the answer is simple, the solution isn’t. Carpooling, however, is one easy way to cut the exhaust and spare the air.

Here’s another math problem you might like: take your monthly gas expense and divide it by five: that’s essentially what happens when you split a ride with four other people. 5. Yep, carpooling saves big-time money that could add up to hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars a year. Plus, interacting with friends and coworkers in the morning has been shown to reduce stress levels. Less gas, more money, and you’re saving the planet? How can you say no?

3. Buy local

You know that apple in your lunch bag? If you bought it at your nearby mega market, chances are, it came all the way from New Zealand just to be part of your midday snack. That’s an 8,000-mile journey! But why do that when you could buy an apple that’s travelled a fraction of the distance? Buying locally helps cut down on emissions, and you’ll most likely end up with a higher-quality piece of produce in the end. Conventional farming is great for producing large yields at low costs. But for flavor and nutritional density, nothing beats local.

4. Go paperless

Nobody likes getting bills and bank statements in the mail. They stack up, they get lost — and all that paper just might increase your carbon footprint. But by going paperless, you could make a big impact: cutting the paper saves 23 pounds of wood and reduces 29 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

5. Reduce your red meat intake

It’s hard not to love a good burger. Unfortunately, conventional cattle raising comes with some unsavory drawbacks. It takes a tremendous amount of resources, including water, to raise beef and get it onto our plates — 11 times more water than pork or chicken, to be precise. Eating less beef could even have a bigger impact on our air and water supply than reducing your car travel! At the end of the day, if it’s as easy as opting for the chicken patty a little more often, then why not save the planet, one bite at a time?

It’s true: little changes can add up to big-time dividends over time — not just in terms of environmental impact, but also for your health and your pocketbook. Together, we can make planet Earth as great as we know it can be. Check out how you can work together with Esurance to create a cleaner planet.

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about Chris

Chris has written everything from fiction manuscripts to pretend newsletters about pirates. He's even edited numerous volumes of work written entirely by kids. As a freelance writer at Esurance, he strives to bring out the whimsy and heart of insurance. Outside of Esurance, Chris is an audiophile, visual artist, and explorer of late-night taquerias.