Choose to be mindful and make every day Earth Day. There are simple things you can do to help minimize your carbon footprint. All it takes is a little discipline and forethought to modify the way you approach daily interactions. I do my best to maintain the following rituals in my daily life, as well as when I travel.

Refuse plastic bags

Any time I go shopping I try to remember to have reusable, eco-friendly bags with me. We have grocery bags we take with us each week when we get groceries. Bill and I keep one bag each in our car for those spur of the moment shopping trips. And If we do not have a bag with us, we will simply carry the item(s) – and receipt – out of the store sans bag.

When traveling, we always pack the “strawberry bag“. It takes up very little space, is cute to carry around, and is a life (and environment) saver when it comes to shopping local markets or grocery stores and when needing a little extra carrying space on the way home.

Turn down plasticware

Plasticware is common place when traveling. They give it to you on the plane with your meals, you often receive it from restaurants when grabbing something quick to eat. And if you are like us, every time you go out for ice cream or frozen yogurt you end up with yet another plastic spoon.

Enter the Light My Fire┬áspork with built in knife. Bill and I purchased our Light My Fires during our Grand Teton trip in 2009. I am hoping soon to get another set – this time with a carrying case – for easier portability.

No more disposable chop sticks

Bill and I tried sushi for the first time at the airport lounge in Tokyo during our Epic Adventure. There has been no turning back since. We very likely go out for sushi once a month or once every two months, on average. Me being me, I cringed every time I opened a new set of chop sticks at the restaurant. To alleviate this feeling, we purchased our own, reusable chop sticks that I bring with us whenever we are going out for sushi or know there is a possibility we might eat sushi while we are gone.

Say no to styrofoam

I despise styrofoam even more than disposable plasticware and chopsticks. It’s a material that I think should be banned from use everywhere. In most places it is not recyclable, and it is used far too commonplace. Egg cartons, meat packaging, shipping packaging, and restaurant to-g0 containers.

I have started purchasing eggs only if the are in cardboard crates. I also upcycle the crates by giving them to a woman at work who then gives them to a friend who has chickens.

When we go out to eat, I carry my own glass containers with me. This way I can avoid any unnecessary to-go containers, especially styrofoam. And, the food is then ready for lunch the following day.

Conserve paper towels

I use the restroom a lot and realized I was using a large number of paper towels throughout the day from washing my hands. Having been to places that use wash clothes as hand drying towels, I decided to take my PackTowl to work to use each time I went to the restroom. I also decided to put a wash cloth in the PackTowl carrying bag and keep it in my car for use when out and about.

This particularly came in handy on our recent trip to Washington D.C., as I used that bag for my “purse” and Bill and I both used the wash cloth while exploring the area.

Do not use straws

We do not go out to eat often, but when we do, I try to remind myself to tell the waitress “no straw” when ordering my drink. We also have reusable metal straws that we carry with us when needed.

It’s the smallest things in life that can make a huge impact on our planet. Taking the time to make minor modifications on how you interact with the world will help foster a more sustainable environment for generations to come.