When George Clooney sports about in a Toyota Prius, or the Obamas install a swing set made from sustainable wood for Sasha and Malia, you know that the green trend is here to stay.

You can make small changes today that make a big difference in the long run. Even better, going green can save you money. Here are 15 easy ways to get started:

At Home

1. Turn off lights and equipment. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) office, turning lights on and off can affect the life span of all light bulbs. So here’s how to do it:

  • Incandescent lights use only 15 percent of energy for light; the other 75 percent is converted into heat. Always turn them off when you’re leaving a room.
  • Fluorescent lights are much more energy efficient — and expensive. According to EERE, turn them off when you’re planning on leaving a room for more than 15 minutes.

Also, if you’re not using electronics or appliances such as the TV, computer, radio, or microwave, unplug them.

2. Install energy-efficient light bulbs. These bulbs are much more affordable than they used to be. Even better, one Energy Star-qualified compact fluorescent bulb can save you $30 in energy costs over its lifetime. Also, they produce 75 percent less heat than incandescent bulbs, so you’ll reduce the amount of air conditioning you use in summer.

3. Change the filter often. Your home ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system makes up 50 percent of your energy costs, states the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They recommend checking your filter every month especially during winter and summer. Change it whenever it looks dirty or at least every three months.

4. Burn essential oils. Aerosol air fresheners release toxins, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), into the atmosphere. These pollutants damage the ozone layer and have been linked to some cancers, allergies and asthma attacks. A greener way to freshen your home is to open windows or burn essential (not fragrance) oils.

At Work

5. Print less. Use the “Quick Print” function when possible, or print in 80 percent gray instead of black. Also, print on both sides of the paper when possible. You’ll save trees and money, and reduce the amount of toners that end up in landfills.

6. Recycle toners. Many toner companies offer a recycling program where you can turn in old cartridges or toners, or refill them.
7. Take utensils and dinnerware to work. Every year millions of plastic and Styrofoam dinnerware end up in landfills. One alternative is to take your own to work and use green dishwashing liquids to clean them. Or, you can wash plastic utensils and plates and reuse them.

8. Put office equipment on energy saver mode. Many computers, printers, faxes and photocopies have a function that puts them into a “low power” or “sleep” mode. Also, you can program some of them to shut down at certain time of day.

On the Road

9. Join a carpool. You’ll reduce the time you spend driving, gas expenses, wear and tear on your vehicle, and harmful auto emissions in the atmosphere. Carpool to work, school, business functions, or outings such as weddings and sports events.

10. Cycle or walk to local spots. Instead of driving the car to the convenience store, or nearby park, hop on your bike or walk.

11. Don’t let your car idle. Reduce your gas costs and air pollution by simply switching off the engine (obviously, not while in routine traffic).

In the Garden

12. Don’t cut your lawn often. Letting your grass grow saves on gas or energy costs and reduces pollution. It’s also healthier for your lawn.

13. Buy green pesticides or insecticides. These eco-friendly products are just as effective at protecting your garden as pesticides that contain toxic chemicals.

14. Plant a tree. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the loss of natural forests around the world contributes more to global emissions each year than the transport sector. Planting one or two trees in your backyard will help to soak up some of that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

15. Plant drought-resistant plants. Check with your local garden center to find out which ones are best suited to your zone. You’ll spend less on water costs — and more time relaxing, not working, in your garden.