To Make Greener Life Choices, Start Here

With climate change in the headlines more and more, you might feel the urge to do something, anything, about living your best environmentally friendly life. Making a big life change all at once rarely sticks, though. The best way to shift your style starts with small steps — and if you want to go green, there's one reliable place to begin.

Composting comes in a lot of varieties, whether it's just a bucket on your kitchen counter or full-on raising worm colonies. It takes food waste out of landfills, it creates growing material for healthy gardens, and it can help you keep those fruit flies out of your trashcan. Composting also happens to be the most effective "gateway" habit for people looking to live more sustainably, according to new research from Ohio State University.

Study lead Nicole Sintov found that residents of a California town who began receiving recycling and composting services from the city were also more likely to look for further ways to be environmentally friendly. This included reducing water waste (e.g., shorter showers) and unplugging electronics when not in use, to save power. "Our study found that this happened because waste was on their minds, or 'cognitively accessible,' and this thinking about waste seems to lead you to manage waste in other ways," Sintov said in a press release.

There are some caveats — the town was an affluent, well-educated area, and many residents were already inclined to manage their food waste through meal planning and other methods. But the research does suggest that figuring out how to integrate one positive change into your life can cascade into additional changes. It's one more sign that you should never be afraid to start small.