15 Simple Ways to Make Your Kitchen More Eco-Friendly
Easy changes. Big results.
If you want to go green in your kitchen, choosing environmentally-friendly materials and finishes during a renovation is a great time to make changes. But what about the rest of us? The truth is, you don't need to necessarily renovate your kitchen to make it eco-friendly. You still have several options for going green in your home, and most of them are easy and inexpensive.
Bring Your Own Bags to the Supermarket
This is an easy one, but many of us still forget to do it — bring your own bags to the grocery store. Invest in a few stylish tote bags that you love, then commit to keeping them in your car and using them. Bring them in, unload in the kitchen, then take them back outside to your car so you don't forget.
Set Up a Recycling Center
Recycling Storage in Cabinet
Storage Dilemma: You don't have the room for a recycling center in your kitchen. Solution: Stack your recycling bins out of the way, in a slim cabinet with shelves in your garage next to the entrance into your home. This handy alternative allows you to organize your recyclables, and keep odors from lingering in your kitchen.
In order to effectively recycle at home, you need a system in place. If your city requires you to use a specific type of recycling bin but the bin doesn’t fit in your kitchen, no worries. You can set up an at-home recycling center based on the setup of your own space. You could use simple plastic bins underneath your counter, or set up a recycling center in a spare cabinet.
Grow Your Own Herbs
If you love to cook, growing your own herbs at home is a fun and eco-friendly way to help make your kitchen greener. You can certainly grow herbs outside in your garden; however, if you don’t have any outdoor space, you can grow them at home right on your countertop.
Filter Your Water
Setting up a filtration system for your water is a great way to save money on bottled water, as well keeping your family healthy. Even if you have a filtration system in your refrigerator, it’s a great idea to install one on your kitchen sink and make sure that the water you use for cooking and cleaning is also filtered. If you want an easier filtration solution, consider purchasing a filtered water pitcher.
Use Natural Cleaning Products
Another easy way to go green in your kitchen is to commit to only using natural cleaning products. It’s easy to find eco-friendly cleaning products in most grocery and big-box stores these days. However, you can also create your own cleaning solutions at home with some easy ingredients and quick recipes.
Only Run Your Dishwasher When It's Full
Studies show that dishwashers are more energy- and water-efficient than washing our dishes by hand. However, you can waste a lot of water if you're running your dishwasher often when it’s not full. Run your dishwasher at the end of the day, when it’s at its fullest, then you can wake up in the morning to a load of clean dishes.
Ditch Plastic Containers for Glass
Glass containers are more expensive, but they tend to last longer and don’t contain any of the chemicals that many of the plastic containers do. Mason jars are a great, inexpensive option, and you can usually find a comparably-sized glass container for any of the plastic pieces you currently have.
Add a Low-Flow Aerator to Your Kitchen Sink
According to the EPA, adding an aerator to each sink in your home can save an average family approximately 700 gallons of water per year. That could equal monthly savings on your water bill of about $48. Since your kitchen sink is often the busiest sink in your home, that's a great place to start. Choose an aerator to work with your existing faucet, and start saving money (and water!) on day one.
MORE: Water-Saving Faucets
Compost Your Food Scraps
You can immediately reduce the amount of garbage you're throwing away by recycling your food waste and using it as an invaluable tool for the soil in your garden. It's also a great way to teach your kids about recycling and how we can each do our part to care for the planet.
MORE: Will It Compost?
Switch Your Bulbs to LEDs
Much like glass storage containers, you'll make a greater investment up front with LED light bulbs; however, in the long run, you'll save lots of money. LED bulbs use about 20 percent of the energy of a standard incandescent bulb, they last about 25 percent longer and they cost way less to operate, saving you money on your monthly electrical bill.
MORE: Cash-In on LED Lighting
Replace Your Teflon Cookware
If you have any non-stick or PTFE pans in your kitchen arsenal, it’s time to ditch them. At high temperatures, toxic fumes from the non-stick coating of this cookware are released that might harm the air quality in your home and even the health of your pets. Your safest choices are cast-iron or stainless-steel cookware. Even if you can’t replace all of your cookware at once, try to do it over a period of time.
Use No-VOC Paint
If you're undertaking even a simple paint project in your kitchen, choose a no-VOC paint for the project to keep things as green as possible. VOCs are unstable, carbon-containing compounds that readily vaporize into the air. These can cause air pollution and a host of health issues. Luckily, we have a number of choices these days when it comes to no-VOC paints.
Eliminate Paper Towel Use
It’s easy to get used to cleaning up and tackling spills with paper towels. However, you can keep things much more eco-friendly in your kitchen by relying on kitchen towels and rags for easy clean-up and maintenance. Recycle older hand towels or washcloths into rags, and make sure you have plenty of kitchen towels around to grab when you need them.
Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Appliances
Modern Kitchen With Warm Wood Paneling
This kitchen was renovated with custom white cabinetry and designed to include more storage, larger prep surfaces and energy efficient appliances. Walnut wood panels wrap the wall and ceiling, showing off a skylight and four pendant lights positioned over the kitchen island. A bright orange backsplash adds a pop of color.
If you plan to upgrade any of your kitchen appliances in the near future, make sure you're choosing energy-efficient models. This is a fairly easy task since most manufacturers realize the importance of producing energy-efficient options for their customers. You should also check with your city or state to see if there are any rebates available for upgrading.
Add Some Fresh Greenery
Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography
Even if you don’t have any available counter space, you can easily add some hanging plants. If you’re not great at caring for live plants, set a recurring alarm on your phone to remind you to water them.