Happy almost Earth Day! Here's your yearly reminder that humans are really, really bad at taking care of the planet. So bad, in fact, that we're already trying to figure out how to grow potatoes on Mars for when the human race inevitably has to move there because we've completely destroyed Earth. What a time to be alive. Fortunately, however, not all hope is lost: When it comes to saving the environment, there are a number of small changes you can make to your daily routines to help a planet out. The very first thing you can do? Carry your own coffee cup. 

If you make your coffee at home, you're already on the right track. (Unless, of course, you use disposable k-cups. In which case, cut that out.) You likely put your coffee in a porcelain mug or travel mug every morning. But if you're a regular at your local Starbucks, you're likely contributing to the four billion Starbucks coffee cups that are used each year. While these paper cups seem recyclable, they're actually not: Each one has a thin plastic lining. The Environmental Protection Agency reports (in a cached blog post—the original post seems to have disappeared; wonder how that happened), that annually, Americans throw away 25 billion cups a year, which means:

  • 9.4 million trees were harvested just for cups;
  • 363 million pounds of waste were generated; and,
  • 3,125,000 tons of CO2 emissions were generated.
EPA.gov

That's no good. But there's a pretty easy fix. Get yourself a travel mug. Specifically, the Contigo travel mug, which will keep your coffee hot for more than six hours, and your cold brew icy cold for up to 12. Almost all coffee shops are happy for you to use your own mug. And some places even offer a discount if you BYO cup. Even Starbucks will give you a ten-cent "cup discount" when you bring your own.

And even if you don't get a discount, you do get the pleasure of doing something good for the planet, even before you've fully woken up. 

Contigo Travel Mug, from $10.78, Amazon.com