The kitchen is the heart of the home, but it is also one of the dirtiest rooms in the house. It’s also one of the most important areas of your apartment to make eco-friendly. From the amount of water wasted while doing dishes to the harsh ingredients in your cleaners, the kitchen is the first place to start if you want to be living green in your rental. But luckily for you, it’s not that difficult to have a green kitchen! Follow these steps to cut down your carbon footprint and live an eco-friendly life.

Recycle … Correctly

Recycling is an obvious step toward living green in your apartment, but you should be aware of what you can and cannot toss in that blue bin. For example, plastic bags may seem like an obvious thing to recycle, but unfortunately these bad boys must go in the trash. However, if you have an overflowing collection of grocery bags, you can find a plastic bag recycling bin at a local drugstore or supermarket.

Feel free to toss things like corrugated cardboard, office paper, magazines, newspapers, cereal boxes, phone books and dairy/juice cartons in the recycling bin. Wax paper, food-contaminated paper–like that pizza box from last night–and mixed metal and paper need to go in the trash can.

Reduce Waste

Cutting down on the amount of garbage you go through is dependent on the food you consume. For a green kitchen, consider buying items with little to no packaging, and if you do need to purchase packaged items, check to see if they can be recycled. Lower numbers, like one or two, are widely accepted at recycling facilities, while items ranked seven and eight are much less accepted. When you are cooking, try to avoid making more food than necessary so you aren’t tossing the extras in the trash.

Go Local

Worried about checking the number on the bottom of the package? Just go local! Purchase fruits and vegetables from farmers markets and local stores that don’t put their goods in plastic containers. Make sure to bring along a reusable bag to a market so you aren’t picking up a bunch of plastic bags for your purchases.

Ditch the Chemicals

Harsh chemicals like bleach and ammonia aren’t good for your body or your home. They can wreak havoc on your nervous system and be especially toxic to those with a weakened immune system. But the damage doesn’t end there. Once you spill the rest of your cleaner down the drain, it can go into local rivers, lakes and oceans. Your indoor air quality is compromised when you are trying to get your apartment spic and span!

There are plenty of green kitchen cleaning products on the market that you can choose from, but it’s also incredibly simple to make your own. If you have baking soda, white vinegar, lemons, olive oil and aromatic plant oils like lavender or eucalyptus, you can make your own all-purpose cleaning scrub and floor disinfectant.