It’s getting harder and harder to deny that our planet is warming, and that human activity is a contributing factor. The effects are observable around the globe — longer and greater heat waves, increased drought, loss of sea ice, receding coastlines, and more severe and destructive storm activity.

As individuals, it’s easy to think we are powerless to stop the trend, but in fact there are plenty of things each one of us can do to help tip the balance toward a more sustainable future — starting with simple choices we can make at home.

How do you reduce your ecological footprint? A good place to start is by reducing your carbon emissions. Carbon dioxide is by far the biggest culprit in terms of sheer volume of greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere each year. There are many ways to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide your family produces. Here are a few to consider.

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint at Home

  1. Eat more plants. The more meat you eat, the more CO2 ends up in the atmosphere. Vegans have just 45 percent the “foodprint” of a meat-loving American. While a vegan diet is the best way to protect the planet, you don’t have to give up meat altogether to shave your impact. Simply replacing a few beef meals per month with chicken or vegetarian options will reduce your carbon footprint substantially.
  2. Reduce, re-use, recycle. EPA estimates that 42 precent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are traceable to the manufacture, delivery and disposal of goods and services. All you have to do is observe what gets left on the curb on moving day and you’ll see there is plenty of room for improvement in this department. In addition to recycling paper, glass, metal and plastics, one of the best things you can do to keep your carbon footprint light is to focus on quality rather than quantity when you shop — and only purchase durable items that you need
  3. Switch to energy-efficient lighting. Lighting accounts for a big chunk of residential electricity use — about 17 percent, according to some estimates. You can make yours a lot less by installing LED bulbs and/or daylighting options.
  4. Ditch your desktop. Mobility is not the only advantage of a laptop computer. Laptops are also way more energy efficient than desktops. Switching to a laptop can reduce your computer-related energy use 10 to 20 times. (If you just can’t part with your desktop, at least turn off the monitor when you’re not using it, and unplug the computer at night.)
  5. Consider an electric car. Unless your electricity is generated by a coal-powered plant, driving an electric car is hands-down one of the best ways to tank your carbon emissions. They’re also quiet to drive, and accelerate like crazy! Paired with solar, you can even achieve the ultimate in responsible driving: zero emissions.
  6. Go solar. Yes, you can maintain your preferred lifestyle without frying the planet. Whether or not you have an electric car, why not take your carbon footprint as low as possible and generate your own clean energy from the sun? Solar panels will let you drive, cook, illuminate and even compute with a clear conscience.

According to NASA records, 16 of the warmest 17 years on record have occurred since 2001. It’s time to stop pointing fingers and start taking action as individuals and as a society to combat this trend. The environmental benefits of solar and other energy-efficiency technologies are well documented and easy to implement in our homes. Why not start taking steps to reduce your carbon footprint today?