kitchen1.jpg The kitchen is likely one of the most used areas of your home, even if you don’t regularly cook. This centralized room may be the gathering place of your dinner parties, your kids’ homework area or your favorite place to enjoy a glass of wine. That being said, it’s critical to make sure recycling principles are implemented in this part of the house. Whether you’re wasteful with food or you always leave the kitchen lights on, there’s no better time to change your routine than now. Here are six key ways to be more sustainable in the kitchen for the sake of the environment.

1. Start composting

Composting might sound like a lot of trouble, but the fact of the matter is that it’s something anyone can do. Furthermore, it can be a full family effort that reduces your household’s carbon footprint. The first step toward composting is knowing what can be composted in your kitchen. Fruit and vegetable waste can be composted, but dairy products are a big no-no. This list from Home Composting Made Easy is one of many that can guide you along the way. Next steps include purchasing a kitchen compost pail and a food bucket (for outside). Old food can be placed in the kitchen compost pail, then eventually moved to the outdoor food bucket once it’s full. There are also compost buckets you can buy at your local hardware store if you do not want to utilize a standard pail. These compost buckets are also designed for faster decomposition.

2. Be mindful of your lights

Lighting is a big necessity in a kitchen. Whether you’re prepping food or your kids are studying around the kitchen table, you need light. However, this doesn’t mean your fixtures need to be switched on all the time. In addition to reminding your family to turn off the lights when they leave the room, consider installing timers or motion sensors. This will ensure the lights are never on when no one is using the space. You may also want to replace your current bulbs with LEDs for more savings. These bulbs can create the same amount of light while reducing your energy usage and electricity bill.

3. Invest in Energy Star appliances

You might have seen the Energy Star label on a number of kitchen appliances in the past, but what exactly does it mean? The Energy Star label is given to products that contribute to energy savings across the country, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Items that have the label have features that can increase energy efficiency for consumers, and their performance can be measured. If you want to be more sustainable around the kitchen, think about investing in Energy Star-labeled appliances, such as refrigerators and dishwashers. Energy Star labels can also be found on items for other areas of your home, including light bulbs and televisions.

4. Use your dishwasher

The “Dishwasher vs. Hand-washing” debate has been raging for years, but one study has finally found out which is more eco-friendly. Researchers published a report in the International Journal of Consumer Studies, showing that 140 liters of water are used on average while washing by hand. This is compared to 13 liters of water used during a quick cycle in the dishwasher. Additionally, hand-washing uses 3.5 kWh of energy, while a quick cycle utilizes 0.9 kWh. In short, it’s by far cheaper and more sustainable to use your dishwasher. You can save even more if you invest in an Energy Star-certified model that is designed to consume less water and energy.

5. Use sustainable materials

If you’re interested in creating a sustainable kitchen from scratch, you’ll want to make sure you’re using eco-friendly materials along the way. This means investing in items, such as reclaimed wood and recycled countertops, to reduce your carbon footprint. There are also sustainable flooring options these days, such as “wood laminate,” that can give you the look you desire in your kitchen. Consult with your contractor as you renovate your space to find green materials that work within your budget. A professional will know where you can find sustainable items for your particular project.

6. Look for low-VOC paint

VOC stands for volatile organic compound. It can be found in both solids and liquids, and eventually, VOCs can convert into gas or vapor at room temperature. They have been linked to a wide variety of health problems, such as headaches and asthma. However, they can also lead to respiratory diseases and cancer. At the moment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency limits VOCs to 250 grams per liter in latex paint. You can find low-VOC paint at prices that are comparable to regular paint, and they will be better for your household and environment. Whether you’re repainting your kitchen or painting it for the first time, make low-VOC paint a priority. Of course, there are many other ways you could transform your kitchen into a more environmentally friendly space. However, these six tips are viable starting points for any homeowner who wants to reduce his or her carbon footprint quickly and efficiently. Some of these suggestions can also be used around the rest of your house to save energy and money. For instance, a timer or motion sensor can be used in other rooms to turn off the lights when they aren’t in use. You can use more sustainable materials throughout your home, such as reclaimed wood, to make sure your renovations are eco-friendly. Reducing water usage in areas, such as the bathroom, can help you eliminate waste in your household as a whole. Whether you’re interested in going green or your entire family is up for it, there are many ways to help out the planet. For more information on how kids can participate in the green movement, you can visit websites such as or There are also several resources out there for adults who are interested in reducing their carbon footprint on the website.