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We often hear what the cruise lines are doing -- or aren't doing -- to offer a greener, more conservation-oriented cruise experience. But let's turn away from the big picture for moment and think about what each of one of us can do as individuals. Cutting down on waste and conserving energy translate to reduced engine emissions and less fuel consumption. Here are some ways to reduce your, and therefore your ship's, carbon footprint on your next cruise.

1. Re-using towels cuts down on the water consumption which in turn reduces the energy used to make the water; ships desalinate most of the water they use (which means they're running sea water through a machine that takes the salt out and make it taste good and safe to drink).

2. It's a no-brainer, but don't forget to turn off your lights and appliances when leaving the cabin. Though it feels like someone else is paying the electric bill, actually you are. Recent hikes in fuel prices have led to what the cruise biz calls the dreaded "fuel supplement" which means each passenger is helping to foot the bill.

3. Likewise, don't forget to keep your balcony door closed to keep the cabin temperature constant. When the balcony door is open for long periods of time, the air-conditioning is wasted and therefore energy is wasted.

4. Along these same lines, before you head out of your cabin, turn your cabin's thermostat to a neutral position, no sense keeping the air conditioning on full blast when you're not in the room.

5. Take the stairs. Not only will it help mitigate all those pizza slices, desserts and cocktails that will be adding inches to your mid-section, using the elevators less saves fuel.

6. For all you water guzzlers out there, fill up one of the ship's reusable cups with water from the drinks station in the buffet restaurant when you're thirsty rather than buy endless container of water in plastic bottles. We've all heard the mind-boggling stats on how many millions of plastic bottles hit the garbage dumps every year; plus petroleum is needed to produce plastic in the first place, and more water is wasted transporting bottled water than is contained in the bottles themselves.

7. In this vein, if you're a soda hog, buy one of the ship's reusable soda cup packages and get refilled to your heart's desire throughout the cruise; plus spend less than you would if you purchased each can of pop individually.

8. Don't waste food. Though it's tempting to heap your plate or order extra courses just in case someone in your group might want a taste; try to order and take just want you actually want to eat. Unnecessarily wasting food means there's unnecessary waste in producing, packing, shipping and preparing (all of which requires fuel).

9. Just as on land, say no to plastic bags in the ship's gift shop whenever possible. Do you really need a bag for that magnet you're giving to Aunty Bertha or for the t-shirt you're going to jam right into your suitcase anyway or that can of Pringles you're going to scarf down moments after you exit the shop?

10. Deposit cans, bottles and other rubbish in the appropriate recycling bins located in various locations around the ship. Ships do sort recyclables below decks and offload them in port, bound for recycling plants whenever possible.