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Simple things you can do each day to help restore the planet

Many things affecting the earth's climate are out of our control, but there are small steps we can take that can make a big impact.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Recent data from NASA shows that our activities are impacting the earth, throwing the planet's "energy budget" out of whack.

While some things like power generation and industrial manufacturing are outside of our control, there are some things we all can do on our own to help the planet stay in balance.

Kyle Kramer with the Passionist Earth and Spirit Center in Louisville said the first step is actually just spending more time outside to help foster an appreciation for nature.

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"We've all, I think, done more during COVID, which is great," Kramer said. "To the extent you do that, your affection for the human world will grow, and basically you'll come to see nature isn't just out there - it's in here, too."

Beyond spending time outside, little changes to our daily lives can also help restore our planet.

Avoid invasive species

Be extra careful with the types of plants you put into your yard and make sure you don't introduce any invasive species. These species are more common than you might think - and it could mean bad news for the ecosystem.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, an invasive species is any kind of living organism that isn't native to that area and could cause harm to the environment, economy or even have impacts on our health.

Examples of invasive plants include English ivy, Kudzu and the Bradford pear tree.

"The biggest problem with invasive species is generally that those exotic, invasive species change the habitat," said Terrell Holder with the Sierra Club

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Holder suggests talking with the person you're buying the plants from to make sure that you aren't unintentionally picking up something that could be harmful to native species.

Incorporate more plant-based meals

Kramer said a diet that is based on animal products tends to be more ecologically harmful compared to a plant-based diet.

Meat-eaters, don't despair! You don't have to go cold turkey and cut everything out of your weekly meals. Kramer said even just swapping out a few meals a week (like trying out Meatless Monday) could make a huge impact on the planet.

Not sure how to get started? The blog Forks and Knives has a list of 29 plant-based meals for beginners, which includes soups, sandwiches, snacks - and even pizza.

Travel smart

One of the top reasons for deficiencies in the earth's "energy budget" is transportation. While we don't all have enough money to get the most eco-friendly vehicle, there are some things we can do to reduce that impact.

Holder's suggestion is to run all of your errands in one trip rather than spreading them out across multiple trips and multiple days.

"If you go shopping, don't drive out to just get one thing. Take your list and make that trip more worthwhile," he said.

Kramer encourages the use of different transportation methods, such as walking, riding a bike or taking public transportation.

Shop responsibly online

While shopping online seems like an easy option, it can still make an impact on the environment.

"Ask yourself: do you really need something you're thinking about buying," Kramer said. If you do decide you need that thing, Kramer suggests looking into whether you can get it used or making sure that it's responsibly made.

When you're browsing, see if that retailer offers "green" options for shipping. Also, if you order everything you need at once, that will reduce the number of boxes and the amount of transportation needed for those items.

Once your order arrives, don't forget that most cardboard and filler from packages are recyclable. You can learn more about Jefferson County's recycling policy here.

Contact reporter Rob Harris atrjharris@whas11.com. Follow him onTwitter (@robharristv) andFacebook

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Louisville Water is celebrating Earth Day by reminding everyone how beneficial it is to use tap water and refillable bottles. Happy #EarthDay! We’re thrilled to announce that Louisvillians have saved over 2.6 MILLION plastic bottles from the landfill!