The word "sustainable" is heard a lot these days, and the reason is simple -- right now our demands on Earth's resources are NOT sustainable, and time is running out. Our planet is in dire straits, and every change you make with Earth in mind helps tremendously, whether it be going organic, reducing car emissions, recycling, or any of a long list of ideas. Do what you can, and please teach your children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren about how to take care of the planet. They are the future caretakers of this wonderful world -- let's keep it healthy for us AND for them, and let's leave Earth in good hands.

It really is easy to adopt a green lifestyle, but it can be tough to do it all at once. Baby steps still get you there, and as habits develop, it's easy to take the next step. I'm not 100% green yet, but I'm devoted to doing as much as I can without feeling overwhelmed with the weight of the world. These days, the list is long, thanks to how my baby steps have added up. The important thing is to be conscious of the impact of your activities, and it gets a lot easier to make green choices a habit.

Here's a list of simple things each of us can do to help our planet become healthier:

Recycle everything you possibly can, even if it means transporting items to the recycle center yourself.

Don’t buy bottles of water – buy nice water bottles that can go in the dishwasher, and refill them. If the water in your area tastes bad, use a purifying filter.

Buy recycled! Support companies that use recycled products and cleaner/greener production methods. Look for items that are made from 100% recycled materials, and go from there. In our home, even our carpet is made from recycled soda bottles.

Bring cloth or reusable bags to the grocery store, and return any plastic bags to a recycling drop off point (which might even be at the grocery store itself). Plastic bags pollute the environment and make their way into our oceans, lakes, and rivers. They are not biodegradable!

Avoid excessive shopping. Think before you buy – do you really need it, will it last a long time, or is just going to end up in a landfill before long? Shop wisely, and help your budget, too!

Buy used. Save some money, and prevent more items from going to the landfill.

Before you throw something useful away, donate items you don't need to thrift shops, charities, and other places, or trade/sell on craigslist or other trade sites.

Use recycled building materials, and visit craigslist and other trading sites to avoid buying new products.

Plant for the wildlife! Plant flowers specifically for bees, butterflies, and birds that pollinate and bring beauty.

Make a wildlife habitat – provide food sources for adult and baby creatures alike, provide water, shelter, and nesting options.

Don’t use chemicals or fertilizer! It washes into our streams and reservoirs.

Support renewable energy -- use green power from wind, sun, water, and other sources of renewable energy. Contact your local utilities to see what sources you can use and support.

Scoop and bag your dog's poop when walking your canine friend! It’s easy enough to do, and it makes your neighbors happy and the creeks healthier.

Get rid of invasive plants in your yard. These spread to creeks and woodlands and get out of control, and they can push out native plants and even harm wildlife.

Buy organic foods from local farmers to support healthy living and minimize transportation costs.

Reduce emissions. Avoid idling, sitting in the car with the air conditioner on, and making lots of little trips to stores -- combine your errands, or even carpool with a friend. Purchase as your next car one that is more efficient, such as a hybrid.

Use an electric lawn mower or better yet, a manual one -- get rid of that gas one. And even better still, replace your water-hogging lawn with native grasses and beds.

Adopt rescued/sheltered animals and save lives. While this doesn't reduce your carbon footprint per se, it definitely helps the world by getting strays into homes and away from potential euthanasia. Don’t purchase breeds or buy from pet stores, which encourage puppy mills, when there are so many wonderful animals desperate for a home. Millions of cats and dogs are being euthanized every year.

Use better lightbulbs -- compact fluorescent lightbulbs provide as much light and last many times longer.

Purchase energy-efficent appliances, and then use them wisely. Don't preheat your oven, keep your freezer and refrigerator clean, don't wash dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, use cool water for washing clothes, and when possible air-dry your laundry.

Be paint-wise. Buy low-VOC paint. They are better for the ozone AND your health.

Program your air conditioner -- don't cool it if no one is home. And keep your AC above 78 degrees in the summer and below 69 degrees in the winter -- the energy savings is huge. For each degree you raise your summer thermostat setting, you reduce cooling costs by 6 to 8 percent.

At least one day a week, take out meat. Raising livestock requires vast amounts of water, great expanses of land, and results in a huge percentage of greenhouse gases -- livestock hurts the ozone. Go without meat at least once a week.

Don't buy styrofoam. It can't be recycled, and it's harmful to wildlife. Avoid take-out that uses styrofoam, buy eggs in cardboard cartons, and don't buy styrofoam dishes and coolers.

Don't buy disposable plates and cups and eating utensils. Such waste -- think about the bags of trash one party can produce. Use your regular plates, and then wash them!

Grow your own veggies. Save money and eat better, too, all while helping put a little O2 back in the air. Depending on how you set up your garden, you might not save much the first year, but it will get better.

Plant native trees. Plant them strategically to provide shade near your house, and you can save cooling costs, as well.

Watch for energy wastes -- unplug your chargers, appliances, and electronics when not in use.

Conserve water in the home and in the garden. Don't leave water running at the sink, and use a trigger nozzle outside. Get a rainbarrel, or use what you have to collect water from roofs when it rains. Fix leaks, inside the home and outside in the yard. Take showers, not baths. And be wise about how you water your plants.

Dispose of batteries, paints, and chemicals properly by taking them to an appropriate disposal center or drop-off point.

Educate yourself about your carbon footprint. Find out your score, and then do what you can to reduce your negative impact even more. Visit and to learn more.