Your kitchen likely receives some of the most foot traffic in your home. Just think about all the activities that take place there and how often it’s occupied. There’s no wonder why the kitchen is one of the most popular rooms to renovate, especially with remodeling and home construction on the rise.
If you’re making improvements to your kitchen, a great opportunity to build with sustainability in mind exists in a big way. Living green doesn’t have to end with simple energy conservation and efficient appliances. Check out this infographic on building the ultimate sustainable kitchen from CustomMade.com for some great ideas.
Building the Ultimate Sustainable Kitchen
The Environmental Impact of Construction & Renovation
Construction, renovation, demolition, and building operation account for roughly 72% of electricity use in the U.S. and 39% of the nation’s total energy consumption.
Retrofitting just 1% of American homes with water-efficient fixtures could offset 80,000 tons pf greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the same as removing 15,000 cars from our roads for a whole year!
Construction and demolition generate 26% of the total non-industrial waste in the U.S.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) projects are responsible for diverting over 80 million tons of waste from landfills. That number is expected to grow to 540 million tons by 2030.
The average household spends 50% of its total energy on heating, 27% on running appliances, and another 19% to heat water.
8 Simple Ways to Green Your kitchen
1) Swap Plastic Cutting Boards for Wood - Wood, especially maple and close-grained hardwoods, has natural antibacterial properties. And unlink plastic, wood is a renewable resource.
2) Fill the Dishwasher - If you use a dishwasher, skip pre-rinsing and run full loads. If you wash your dishes by hand, fill the sink with a few inches of soapy water and try to minimize running the faucet.
3) Get Some Houseplants - Houseplants help remove volatile organic compounds, like formaldehyde and mercury vapor, from the air. Just be sure to use non-plastic pots and NO pesticides for your indoor plants.
4) Cook with Healthy Cookware - Teflon pots and pans release trace amounts of 15 different gases and particles, including some proven toxins and carcinogens. Additionally, Teflon fumes can kill birds and cause flu-like symptoms in humans. Stick with stainless steel or cast iron cookware instead.
5) Store Leftovers in Glass - BPA isn’t the only chemical hiding in your plastic food containers. Many other chemicals found in plastic have been shown to leach and be unsafe for humans. Invest in glass storage containers (Mason jars are an affordable and trendy option) as a alternative to plastic.
6) Eliminate Food Waste - Americans throw away about 40% of the food we produce. That’s about 1,400 calories worth per person, per day! To avoid wasting food, label a cardboard box with “Eat Me First!” and put it front and center in your fridge. Put foods that will expire soon inside to remind family members to select them before reaching for something else. Keeping & freezing vegetable scraps for soup stock is another great way to cut down on food waste.
7) Keep Your Fridge Full - The fridge can be an energy hog, but a simple way to keep it running efficiently is to make sure it’s adequately stocked. Simple tricks like filling empty spaces with jugs of water, cooling leftovers before putting them away, and keeping your food covered will keep your energy-efficient.
8) Use Green Cleaners - Many commercial cleaning products are chock-full of nasty chemicals that you’d probably want nowhere near your food or cooking surfaces. Even cleaning products labeled “green” or “non-toxic” can contain harsh ingredients. Your best bet is to opt for DIY cleaning solutions, and lucky there’s no shortage of recipes and resources online to get you started!
More Eco-Friendly Kitchen Remodeling Ideas
Cork Flooring - Sure, traditional hardwood flooring can style up any kitchen, but maintaining it is hard work. On the other hand, tiled flooring involves a lot of grout, which means the presence of harmful VOCs. So is there middle ground? We say yes – cork.
Cork is a great fit for eco-friendly remodeling because it is fast-growing, meaning that it is a sustainable resource. More importantly, it’s ideal for people with allergies because it’s resistant to dust and when installed properly, is 100% waterproof.
Repurposed Wall Tiles - If you’re tired of cookie-cutter kitchens, do something to make your kitchen stand out. There is hardly a better way than custom, repurposed wall tiles. Repurposed wall tiles with low-VOC grout will make a clear statement and offer a contemporary look to your kitchen backsplash.
Energy Star Kitchen Appliances - “Green hype” started gathering momentum when more and more people began to realize how much energy and water they waste every day. Outdated appliances are among the largest offenders, but luckily, also the easiest to replace. Energy Star has become the gold standard for energy-saving appliances, ranging from refrigerators to ice makers. Although initially pricey, they provide significant savings in reduced utility bills each month.
Energy Star-certified LEDs - Lighting solutions certified by Energy Star are ruling the era of “eco-enlightenment”. Not only can they reduce your electricity bills, but also improve the functionality of your kitchen. Choose from a variety of Energy Star-certified LED light bulbs and go for different light zones. You can set up task lights in the cooking area, while distributing accent and ambient lights across the kitchen to accentuate decorative elements. In addition, dimmer switches are ideal for creating the right mood.
Energy-Efficient and Water-Purifying Fixtures - There are two compelling reasons why you should consider replacing timeworn fixtures: their energy-efficient counterparts can reduce your water use up to 50 per cent and give your cleaner drinking water. Tankless water heaters, low-flow faucets and water purifiers are just a couple of basic fixtures essential for an eco-friendly kitchen remodel. 2016 is seeing a major shift from the old-fashioned fixtures to sleek and modern ones, while the development of smarter kitchens is further propelled by the production of automatic fixtures and appliances.
Salvaged Wood and Butcher Blocks - For a truly powerful impact on the environment, consider using salvaged or reclaimed wood for your kitchen cabinets, counter tops or the kitchen island. There are many companies who reclaim wood from old buildings, bridges or barns and thoroughly clean it so that it can be re-used. This philosophy is at the core of the eco movement, since reusing wood reduces deforestation. Additionally, butcher blocks are composed of different pieces of reclaimed or repurposed wood that might have come from completely different places. Every piece is, therefore, unique and lends itself to an original kitchen makeover.
Stainless Steel and Concrete - If you envision your dream kitchen in darker notes and with sharper edges, but you still want to keep it green, we have excellent news! Stainless steel is not only wildly popular but also eco-friendly, because 60 per cent of its content is recycled. On the other hand, concrete can also be an eco-trendy solution for your kitchen, as long as it is sourced locally.
Recycled Cement, Glass and Paper - For a bold step into the era of eco-friendly design solutions, try out recycled materials like cement, glass, or even paper for your cabinets or countertops. Depending on the style and effect you wish to achieve, some of these creative solutions like PaperStone, or Bio-Glass might be just the thing to make your kitchen remodel truly remarkable.