10/15/2013 11:30 EDT | Updated 10/27/2013 12:11 EDT

5 Green Things You Can Do Today That Will Make A Difference

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Although any eco-friendly steps you make contribute towards a healthier planet, putting in a little more effort can result in hugely reducing your carbon footprint and can help contribute towards a better future for generations to come. Here are five ways to change your eco baby steps into green leaps.

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Work towards becoming a zero-waste home

You've quit your bottled water habit and you recycle your paper and plastics with your city's recycling program, but kick your efforts up a notch by cutting back your waste to as little as possible. Rather than using disposable items, switch to ones you can reuse -- think rags instead of one-time use cloths for cleaning, and buy in bulk to reduce packaging. Bring food containers to restaurants if you tend to have leftovers to take with you. Borrow books from the library instead of buying novels. It's all about taking time to think about ways to cut back on waste before just taking action in the way you've become accustomed to.

Change your diet

Make how you fuel your body more environmentally friendly. Do so by supporting your local producers by going to the farmers market instead of the big-box grocery store. If you have the space (even if it's just some containers on your city balcony), grow what produce you can --whether it's simply some herbs and tomatoes, or a bigger personal crop of veggies and fruit. Raising cattle is not sustainable, and while going vegetarian would be too major a change for many meat eaters, incorporating one or two meatless suppers a week is easy to blend into one’s lifestyle.

Ditch the car

Cut back on gas by choosing to walk or bicycle rather than drive. For destinations that you can't walk or cycle to, then use public transit. If a car is a must, research whether changing your car to an electric vehicle is within your budget. Also, find out if any colleagues live nearby who you can carpool with (or, if your company offers the flexibility of telecommuting, speak to your boss or human resources about arranging working from home a few days a week).

Raise your kids to understand the value of living sustainably

If you bring up your kids to understand the need to live green, it'll be a value they hold onto for life, and thus it'll positively impact generations to come. Living with zero waste, for them, won't call for changes to habits, but will rather be the only lifestyle they know. Your kids may find it fun to create new uses for items -- it can become a game to think about how certain packaging can be creatively repurposed, for example.

Change your travel plans: think local

Temper your jet-setting ways by including more local vacations rather than flying halfway across the world a couple of times a year. Staycations in your hometown could be a refreshing (and budget-friendly) way to get some R&R. Or, rather than two big trips a year, plan for one longer vacation so you're reducing the number of times you take off and land (which uses more fuel). Even becoming someone who packs just a carry-on luggage is a green decision, given that heavier loads on flights burn more fuel.