Economy got you down? Wishing you could decorate, shop, completely re-do your 70′s kitchen? Never fear! With a bit of ingenuity, a small budget, and a little leg work you can spruce up your kitchen and make it more environmentally-friendly with a minimal amount of cash. Here are some ideas:

Toss the paper napkins and go cloth: Paper napkins are not necessarily cheap. And they don’t grow on trees you know…well, ok, we suppose they do. But that’s the point. What a waste. If you’ve got a dog, a kid, a messy roommate or you’re just a klutz, you know how easy it is to go through a roll. So save some money and toss that paper towel habit. To replace it…a nice wicker basket filled with a mixture of cloth napkins — all different colors/designs. It would make a beautiful, eclectic statement sitting in the middle of your kitchen table. And the great part? All you have to do is peruse a few second-hand stores or garage sales to come up with the supplies. In fact, we can promise you there’s a wicker basket hiding somewhere in your house just waiting to be used.

Paint it green: Nothing gives a room an instant makeover like a fresh coat of paint. And since it’s the kitchen, the heart of your abode, it’s even more important that you use an environmentally-friendly paint. Spare the pollution and scary ingredients like benzene and formaldehyde, which have been shown to trigger asthma and allergies. Learn more about earth and health-friendly paint options in our Paint it Green post.

New place settings for the place: This is a fun idea, just to mix it up, even if you don’t feel a need to get rid of your current place settings. Again, peruse the garage sales and second-hand stores for individual place settings. Use a color or design to tie them altogether, but make each place setting unique. This is also fun to do with wine glasses…your guests will never mix up their drinks again!

All those cookbooks and kitchen accessories: Got a spare bookshelf sitting around the house? Re-purpose it in your new kitchen. Fill the shelves with cookbooks and small kitchen accessories clogging your cupboards or counters, and place the microwave oven, toaster over, or large accessories like blenders and juicers on top. Voila! Instant organization without having to buy new furniture.

Reupholster the dining room chairs: Reupholstering a chair cushion takes very little effort, equipment or money. A few tools, a staple gun, some batting and new fabric is all you’ll need to give your dining room table an instant lift. For extra savings, check out the leftover fabric bins at the fabric store, especially if you only have four chairs to work with, you won’t need to pick from the costly rolls of fabric, meant for larger projects. And a tip to the wise: if you have children or pets, we recommend getting fabric that is easy to clean. Vinyl, for example, allows one to wipe up the messiest of spills without a trace.

Investing in water: If you’re still using a water delivery service (the cost! the oil! the heartbreak!) consider making a small investment in water filtration system, such as Pur’s faucet filter and take back the tap! The annual cost savings and the great taste of tap will make you wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

If you have other ideas of how to spruce up your kitchen on the cheap and in the green, let us know!