04/22/2013 08:49 am ET Updated Jun 22, 2013

12 Ways to Be Green for Earth Day, and Every Day


Climate change is one of those topics that practically dares you to step up to it. We know it exists and we know it's critical, but it's so enormous that it's hard to wrap your head around it.

We see the receding ice caps and dwindling numbers of polar bears; sure, we see the cyclones and the floods in distant lands, and the rise in droughts and hurricanes here at home -- yet somehow where it's all headed seems so far away that it's just easier to think, "What can I do about it? I'll worry about it tomorrow."

But the truth is, tomorrow is rapidly becoming today. Although we may not often acknowledge it, climate change affects every one of us -- and all of us can affect climate change.

Today is Earth Day, and around the world, hundreds of millions of individuals, corporations, governments and communities will band together to pledge to make a difference, and to step forward to protect our planet. Discussions and conferences will be held, concerns will be voiced, problems will be addressed, plans will be made and actions will be taken. No, there will be no overnight solutions, but collectively, our consciousness will be raised, and whatever small steps we plan to take will begin to add up.

That's because Earth Day is not just about organized groups in distant cities making plans. It is also about every one of us taking responsibility for our own actions and setting good examples for our children, our neighbors and friends. As with all social movements throughout history, awareness leads to action, and action leads to change.

And those changes have a real effect. Remember when there was no such thing as unleaded gas or recycling bins, and nobody gave you grief for leaving the lights on and the water running? Now, thankfully, those concerns are part of our daily lives and the planet is happier for it. That's what Earth Day is about.

So today, I urge you to take a moment to look at your own habits and actions, and consider what small changes you can make that will contribute to the larger effort. The easiest way for each of us to begin, of course, is to take steps to reduce our own carbon footprints. So we've made up a list of twelve simple ways that you can begin today. It doesn't take much, but it's so very important for all of us.

And Happy Earth Day!

12 Ways To Be Green For Earth Day