Photo by Prixel Creative

Earth Day often has the same result as New Year’s Day does. Lots of enthusiasm and resolutions that “really are going to last this time, I’m serious,” and often don’t make it ‘til the end of the month. The real reason resolutions—especially green ones—fail is that they are hard to keep. Things like sorting recycling into subgenres, utilizing reusable environmentally-friendly cotton pads instead of single-use ones, collecting the water coming out of the faucet while you’re waiting for the shower to warm up, and biking places instead of driving all sound (and are!) great, but they require major lifestyle changes that few people are prepared to commit to for the long haul. Instead of changing the way you live, change the way you think about small things. It’s amazing what a big impact tiny changes can have, as long as you know which ones make a real difference. Below are five ways:

Kind of. The cattle industry is one of the world’s thirstiest. Meat-based diets typically require five times as much water per day as equivalent vegetarian diets. Cows are thirsty and hungry critters, and keeping them well-fed and well-watered takes, well, a lot of water. Instead of making a huge lifestyle change, consider this: eating four fewer burgers or steaks per year saves as much water as not showering for the whole year! If you ever find yourself torn between a real burger or an epic veggie burger (or even turkey burgers or salmon!), remember that you can take all the long showers you want and still make a huge difference.

Another hidden water-waster is the fashion industry. Dying, washing, and making leather goods all soak up tons of fresh water. Buying vintage denim and leather goods reduces the demand for new designer products that often use extra washes to achieve their premium finishes. So next time your friends call you a hipster, tell them that you’re really just doing it for the planet.

Yes, I’m one of those people who will still wax-poetic about the virtues of feeling pages turn and underlining actual books with real pens. Still, there’s little arguing that switching to e-books and e-subscriptions of your favorite magazines (ahem!) is an easy way to save a lot of paper—which consumes water, forests, and petroleum products. New toys and no need to learn which types of paper are recyclable in your city? Sounds like a win-win to me!

It’s not just a style trend—all the reusable water bottles you see people carrying around make a big difference! Not only are 75% of Americans chronically dehydrated, plastic water bottles consume petroleum and water to manufacture. Carrying a bottle with you means less waste and more hydration. Back to the whole commitment to recycling problem: 88% of plastic water bottles end up in landfills instead of recycling centers. That’s a staggering amount of single-use waste that doesn’t biodegrade and can easily be avoided. Look cool, feel great, save the planet. Buy reusable.

Instead of picking a cause that pulls at the heartstrings on Earth Day but quickly fades away, find an angle that truly appeals to you. From choosing brands that participate in the 1% for the Planet initiative to finding earth-wise charities that get involved with causes that you can relate to, it’s really easy to make small changes that add up to a big difference. If only New Year’s Resolutions were this easy.

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