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Six ways to go green on Earth Day

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 (AP)

Annual Earth Day celebrations highlight the importance of conserving energy, reducing waste and treating the planet with respect and care. Remember, even minor changes to your daily routine can go a long way toward reducing waste. 

With this in mind, here are six ways you can go "green" this Earth Day:

Water conservation
Water conservation is a critical part of an eco-friendly lifestyle that can also save you hundreds on annual heating and water costs. By simply taking shorter showers and shutting off faucets completely when they are not in use, you can vastly reduce the amount of water your household consumes each year. You might even consider installing inexpensive appliances like low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators to limit your water waste even further.

Reusable bags
Each year, just 1 percent of the 100 billion plastic bags consumed in America are recycled, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation. So next time you head to your local supermarket, try bringing reusable bags with you. These sturdy and recyclable bags can drastically cut down on waste and pollution and can be purchased at most supermarkets and stores.

Donate old electronics
The meteoric rise of the tech industry over the past two decades has brought with it new and severe consequences for the environment. In response, a plethora of groups have emerged offering to recycle and reuse outdated and unwanted technology. 

Best Buy's Take Back program, for example, accepts all electronics for recycling, regardless of where they were purchased. Alternatively, there are a number of charities that will accept your old cellphones and other devices, for the purpose of refurbishing and redistributing them among the less fortunate.

Adjust the thermostat
As much as half of the energy used in your home is spent on heating and cooling, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. By making minor adjustments to your temperature control systems, you can save hundreds on energy bills while significantly reducing your carbon footprint. 

For a more long-term solution, consider installing a programmable thermostat. Although these systems can be costly initially, they will more than pay for themselves over the course of several years.

Shop smart
Try getting the most from your regular grocery shopping by buying in bulk whenever possible. Not only will this save you from the hassle of making extra trips, but it will also cut down fuel and packaging waste. Similarly, if you're shopping for clothes, you should consider paying a little extra for garments made from more high-quality material that will last longer than cheaper throwaways.

Pass on gas
According to the Worldwatch Institute, the United States consumes about a quarter of the world's fossil fuel resources despite accounting for less than 5 percent of the global population. Why not consider biking or walking to work or school for a healthy way to save on gas and parking prices? Alternatively, you could try using more fuel efficient methods of traveling, like carpooling or public transportation, to get to your destination.

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