reduce reuse recycle(iStock)

Sometimes the idea of living greener can seem daunting in the whirlwind of our busy lives. However, in many ways going green is simpler and less expensive than what we're already doing. Think of green living in terms of these small steps: reduce, reuse, and recycle. If we take these small steps, we'll be actively working toward sustaining our planet. Once you take the first few steps of greener living, the ideas for reducing, reusing, and recycling will keep coming. Here are some easy tips for living a greener life today.

Reduce

According to a majority of scientists, global warming is the direct result of increased carbon dioxide and other gases in the earth's atmosphere. And this increase is a direct result of burning more and more fossil fuels while clearing trees and forests. There are many ways to reduce fuel and energy use while saving carbon dioxide.

Reduce energy output and save carbon dioxide by switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, budging your thermostat a few degrees down in the winter and up a few in the summer, and replacing furnace and air-conditioning filters regularly. You can also cut back on hot water washes, dryer use, long showers, needless driving, and all those other energy consumers. You can save energy (and some money on your energy bill) by just turning off electronic devices when you're not using them. Unplug them from the wall and save even more. Think toasters, DVD players, computer printers, and more.

Reuse

Reusing products and materials is another important part of greener living because it reduces the amount of hard-to-biodegrade matter we put in our landfills. Before you trash it, before you recycle it, or before you buy a new one, consider whether or not you can reuse or repair an item you already have.

Reach for reusable containers instead new plastic bags when you pack a lunch or save food items in the fridge. Use cloth napkins or washable rags instead of paper napkins and paper towels. Bring your own coffee mug to the café every morning. The ideas for reuse are endless once you start thinking this way.

Donating instead of trashing usable or fixable items also falls in the reuse category. Don't throw those leather shoes in the trash. Someone else might be able to get a few more years of use from them.

Recycle

Recycle your cans, bottles, plastics, and paper waste whenever you can. Your local waste management resource can provide detailed information about the specifics of recyclables in your area. Along the same lines, it's also helpful to purchase recycled products whenever possible.

Five green things you can do today
1. Pay your bills online. You not only save paper by not writing checks and mailing envelopes, but you also reduce fuel consumption by the trucks and planes that transport the checks.
2. Adjust your thermostats. This applies to heating and air conditioning units as well as water heaters.
3. Change your light bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use one-quarter the electricity of regular light bulbs and can last several years longer.
4. Buy locally grown food. Whenever possible, reduce the amount of fossil fuels it takes to get your food from the farm to your table.
5. Start a carpool. Cut down on fuel emissions and save yourself and a few other people a lot of money on gas.

Green living may start a fresh way of thinking for you, and many aspects of it are simple to follow and can save you a little of your hard-earned money. The small steps count - they're the ones that will make the planet a better place to live for years to come.