FALLS CHURCH, Va. – There is a color sweeping the nation…and it’s green! Many people are beginning to understand the impact, or carbon footprint, that their lifestyle choices make on the planet. And they are looking for ways to reduce that impact. The kitchen is one of the most ideal rooms in the home for starting to go green. It’s not only the center of the house and where most people gather, but is also filled with activity as things are brought in and out of it, each week.

"Going green is in, and that’s a good thing," says Chef Paul F. Magnant, Dean of Culinary at Stratford University. "It’s better for the planet and our health. And the good news is that it doesn’t have to break the bank. People don’t have to do a 180 overnight. Making small changes here and there can add up to big results, over time."

Even making a decision to choose and follow through with a couple of the ‘greening your kitchen’ tips below will net positive results. See which ones you could most easily make in your kitchen, and then get started:

• Start with what you bring into the kitchen. Buy as much food that is locally produced as you can, so that fuel isn’t wasted trucking it to you. Also, forgo the paper-or-plastic debate by sticking to reusable bags you take to the store.

• Skip the disposables. Whether it’s for a picnic or a party, opt for utensils, dishes and bakeware that can be reused, to save on resources. Invest in a set of cloth napkins, and turn old sheets, towels or clothing into rags for cleaning by cutting them into small pieces.

• Keep it going. Stick a wicker basket in your kitchen to contain all of the items destined for recycling. Once the day is over or the basket is full, just take it to the larger bins to be sorted. Recycling saves a lot of items from heading to landfills, and reduces the amount of garbage at your curb each week. You can also reuse your raw vegetable leftovers and scraps by setting up a composting system and using the collected matter in your garden.

• Drink home water. Skip buying the bottles of water and invest in a water filtration device for your kitchen. You’ll save a lot of money in the end and will avoid adding to the water-bottle problem our country faces.

• Clean green. You will save money by using natural cleaning supplies, and you will keep unnecessary chemicals out of the environment, as well. Take a spray bottle and put equal parts water and distilled vinegar in it; this can be used as an all-purpose cleaner for everything from counters to sinks.

• Think big. When it’s time to buy new appliances, opt for ones that are energy-efficient by specifically looking for the Energy Star endorsement. Energy Star is a government-backed initiative that ensures you are buying an energy-efficient product. Bigger isn’t always better, especially if you don’t need the extra room. Smaller appliances will shave money off your bill each year.

"Nobody is going to make all these changes overnight," adds Magnant. "But making a couple each year will have your kitchen as green as can be before you know it. What we save, saves us!"

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