I’m a big believer in the ripple effect: creating global change through local action. Whether it’s recycling, using reusable straws instead of plastic, or cleaning up our waterways and public places, a single act of change can ripple out across the world. I’ve committed myself to living an eco-friendly lifestyle to preserve our planet for the future, and I’d like to share a few simple ways that you can do the same.

THINK BEFORE YOU EAT

Our food system accounts for nearly a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. That’s 10 percent more than all of our cars, trucks, planes and trains combined. If a lot of people make just a few small changes to the way they eat, we can make a massive impact – and even reduce the pace of global warming. Meat, cheese and eggs have the biggest carbon footprints, so think about cutting your intake in those categories while adding in more vegetables, fruits, nuts and fish. Even omitting meat from a meal one day a week can make a huge difference in your personal carbon footprint.

REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE

Let’s commit to wasting less. Remember that “recycle” is the third R of sustainability. As important as it is, “reduce” and “reuse” are even more important. You can reduce waste with simple steps like taking reusable grocery bags to the store with you, buying in bulk, avoiding prepackaged or heavily packaged foods, and using cloth napkins and towels instead of paper napkins and paper towels. And you can reuse so many things! You can turn old cartons and bottles into bird feeders or planters, fix old appliances rather than buying new ones, donate old clothes to charity, use containers that can be washed out and used all over again, and much more.   But whenever you can, be sure to recycle. Every piece of trash saved from a landfill helps preserve our air, our water, and our climate. Remember to rinse food particles off things you’re recycling and avoid contaminating your recycling bin with things like plastic bags, which have to be recycled separately, or used napkins, which aren’t recyclable.

WALK OR BIKE MORE

In addition to helping you live a healthier lifestyle, cutting down on driving means you’ll put less carbon into the air. Whenever you can walk or bike somewhere instead of getting in the car, do it! You’ll feel better for having gotten some exercise, and the planet will breathe easier.

Malika Yates on Earth Day