I recently convinced my boyfriend to join me for a viewing of  the documentary “Racing Extinction.” As a former member of the Future Farmers of America with a dream to someday work for the Senate Agriculture Committee, I thought he would be the last to conform to my environmentally friendly ways. But when this West Texas, gun-slinging cattle lover told me he would be a weekend vegan, I realized anyone can be converted. Someone simply had to let everyone know how easy it is to be a good steward of the planet which gives us so much. Here it is, ten practical things you can start doing to help the environment today.

  1. Refrain from eating cow products for only one day a week. This is the most important, and easiest step (if only you remember butter is indeed a cow product). Animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Go vegan on the weekends or maybe just Monday. If every American took this simple step, the emissions savings would be equivalent to taking eight million cars off the road.
  1. Commit to going to the farmers market for produce. Not only is this option healthier, but it helps out local economy, and reduces use of what makes up 162.1 million tons of packaging waste in the United States alone.
  1. Purchase a reusable travel mug. Because of their liquid resistant coating, polyethylene, to-go coffee cups cannot be recycled. If all of America began using reusable cups, there would be 6.5 million more trees, four billion gallons of water left untouched, and enough energy to power 54,000 homes for a year. As a bonus, Starbucks, and many other coffee shops, offer discounts for bringing your own mug.
  1. Replace your lightbulbs with LED. This is a way not only to lower your energy bill, but the environment’s as well. Incandescent bulbs are less efficient than LEDs and thus need more electricity, raising your bill and the need for electric production. LEDs not only lower this need but also reduce the environmental impact by 10 times.
  1. Buy peanut butter in bulk. If all Americans purchased peanut butter in bulk for one year, it would eliminate seven pounds of landfill waste, per family, per year. Most grocery stores have a health foods aisle with a peanut butter dispenser. It also costs on average 62 percent less than packaged, organic counterparts. Simply putting down that crunchy Jif peanut butter can reduce not only landfill waste but also harmful CO2 emissions that are the byproduct of every processing plant.
  1. Stay at green hotels. They’re luxurious and can keep your conscience free of all the waste that simply goes into cleaning your room. Hyatt is leading the way with LED light bulbs, composted waste and guest robes made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles.
  1. Eat locally. Become a Locavore. American food travels an average of 1,500 to 2,500 miles from farm to table. Not only does this lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions but also ensures healthier, fresher, more nutrient enriched fruits and vegetables.
  1. Buy reusable grocery bags. Cities like Austin, Texas, have already banned the use of plastic bags, leaving consumers to either purchase reusable bags at the counter or bring them from home. Plastic bags have three times the greenhouse gas impact as their counterparts, but do even more harm as they drift into the world’s oceans. We need the ocean, it produces 50 percent of our oxygen, simply bring your own bag and breathe a little lighter.
  1. Purchase a programmable thermostat. Since these follow your daily patterns you can be eco-friendly and save. It measures patterns of when you are home or not and when you are hot or cold so that there can be as little energy waste as possible. If you think you can take air conditioning one step further, turn the temperature two degrees cooler in the winter and two degrees warmer in the summer (than your average regulated temperature) and it will keep 880 pounds of carbon dioxide from polluting the earth.
  1. Pay bills online. Save time and energy not only through logging on to pay but by requesting that bills be sent electronically. Paying and receiving online saves more than 23 pounds of wood per year. Also, our #1 enemy, greenhouse emissions, can be cut by 29 pounds, per household each year.