There’s a lot of talk in the media these days about a Green New Deal. Presidential candidates for the 2020 races are taking their stances on the issue. Given the newest research about climate change, it only makes sense that we all take a look at how we use our resources. On a personal level, your kitchen is the best place to start when it comes to finding new ways to reduce your carbon footprint. It’s not just the amount of water we use to cook and clean, but the amount of waste we generate from meals as well as the energy it takes to cook and store food. Here are a few simple places to start.

Lean Mean Green Machines

Energy efficient appliances have been around since the early 90s. The EPA created their Energy Star program in 1992, which provided a standard for companies to follow to label their products as energy efficient and capable of reducing greenhouse gases. Since then the market has only increased the competition. You have an abundance of options from which to choose and the technology is only getting better. For example, non-energy efficient dishwashers use between 10 and 15 gallons of water in a normal cycle. The first round of efficient models dropped that amount down to only 4 gallons of water in the early 2000s, and newer models have it down to only 3 gallons of water per load.

Switching every appliance in your kitchen to its green counterpart will take up a rather large chunk of change. But you’re not only reducing your carbon footprint, you’ll be saving money, as well.

Use The Right Setting

On the subject of dishwashers, while you might think the One-hour setting uses less water (after all, it takes less time) the opposite is true. Less time to wash/clean the dishes means the machine uses more water and pressure to get them cleaned the same way in a condensed amount of time. Keep your refrigerator’s temperatures at a moderate setting so they don’t have to work as hard.

Recycle Properly

Many people don’t know that recycling companies don’t recycle items with food waste left on them. Food remnants are considered contaminants and it costs more money for the plants to decontaminate, so they end up sending those items to the dump. Wash all your plastics and glass, and clear cardboards of debris. NEVER recycle a pizza or freezer box. The grease can’t be separated and freezer boxes are sealed in a wax that also doesn’t recycle.

Reusable Not Disposable

Stop using plastic zip-lock bags, or wash and reuse them. Same thing with cleaning wipes. Switch to a non-toxic, natural cleaning wipe, if you must, as those wipes are made from plant-based materials and will decompose. Use a dishwasher safe brush to scrub food off the dishes before going in the dishwasher and switch to washable cleaning rags like terry cloth or inexpensive tea towels instead of paper towels. Reusable food wrap is available from many different providers, eliminating the need for foil.

Compost If You Can

There’s a lot of food waste from not consuming leftovers or simply not eating the food you buy before it rots. Most of that food, however, can be turned into fertilizer or gas for your kitchen through compost. Coffee grounds, eggs, and fruits and vegetables scraps are perfect compost materials. You can compost on a small scale to fertilize your yard, contribute to a community-wide compost program, or invest in a higher-tech compost system that will convert your compost into gas and funnel it back to your stove top for cooking.

Reusable Coffee Filters and Water Bottles

Quit using K-cups and plastic water bottles. The waste simply isn’t worth it. Reusable coffee filters are made for all types of coffee makers (and the taste is exponentially more fresh than K-cups). Water canteens and coffee mugs are not only insulated to keep your beverage cold or hot, but they come in a variety of colors and designs that can reflect your personality as much as they do your desire to go green.

Reducing what you use and what you waste is mostly a mindful effort. But with these tools you can do it in style and save your wallet along with the environment.