What is an eco-friendly kitchen?
Your kitchen is one of the most important corners of your home. It isn’t just the place where you cook your meals- increasingly, the kitchen space has evolved from its traditional role in many houses today, to include an organized place for hosting small dinner parties, as well as a comfortable retreat for family time over meals. Hence, it is a place where you spend quite some time of your day (if you’re the one who’s doing all the cooking, washing, clean-up, serving et al- read “considerable part of your day”!) Plus, healthy eating is one of the most important components of a healthy lifestyle and hence your wellness quotient. That depends not only on the kind of food choices that you make, but also on how you cook your food and maintain a clean and hygienic kitchen. Hence, your kitchen is one important part of your home.
Over the years, people have become more conscious of this fact and a term called “eco-friendly kitchen” has come into use. While “green kitchens” started off by being a fashionable word- translating into using some sustainable materials here and there, its significance has come into play only recently. A green kitchen or an eco-friendly kitchen is one that is designed and planned keeping in mind- saving energy for the planet, saving gas, money and other resources at a personal level and maintaining a healthy, clean kitchen. It is a space where green (sustainable) materials are used thoughtfully and carefully in planning various aspects like your flooring, cabinets, countertops et al and upcycled finds make their way in style.
Designing an eco-friendly kitchen
A kitchen has to be well-planned to ensure that it functions properly, wears well and does not go out of fashion. If your kitchen isn’t well planned, you may realize after some time that it’s not really effective functionally or you may not like the look and feel after some time. Ripping out one green kitchen and putting another in place, is a waste of resources. So take your time planning, to create a kitchen that is sustainable and can endure the test of time. That might include careful discretion in planning your cabinets, keeping in mind everything from your countertop appliances, your cutlery, dishes, pots, and pans- so they all fit neatly into your kitchen and are accessible easily for use, whenever required. For instance, you need to take count of how many countertop appliances you use frequently and make space for them- if there are tall ones, your cabinet heights will need to be worked out accordingly. If you’re hiring help from a kitchen designer, you need to be sure to ask him a lot of questions to be sure that he/she has considered all of these- your needs, your kitchen supplies, and appliances etc. before setting down to work.
Use recycled steel and glass
Did you know that stainless steel sinks are made from 70% recycled material? Stainless steel and glass are good choices for your eco-friendly kitchens because they not only look stunning but are also environment-friendly. Recycled glass can be used to design eco-friendly kitchen countertops that are not only aesthetic in appearance, but also hard-wearing and perfect for busy kitchens- as they carry anti-bacterial protection.
Choose sustainable materials
Whether you’re considering kitchen flooring or worktops, units, and cabinets- choose your materials carefully. For a country kitchen, that’s as stylish to look at, as environmental friendly, certified wood that comes from sustainable sources is a good choice. For instance, bamboo makes great cutting boards and you can also use it for backsplashes and eco-friendly kitchen flooring. Reclaimed wood can make beautiful kitchen flooring that’s more comfortable on your feet than most kitchen flooring. Cork, made from the bark of a tree, is another excellent sustainable choice for your kitchens as it also happens to be sound-absorbing, hypoallergenic and resistant to mold and mildew. You can even find beautiful green kitchen floor tiles that are made of a significant amount of postindustrial and post-consumer waste.
Eco-friendly kitchen appliances
Even to design or choose your kitchen appliances, a little thought goes a long way. Similarly, convection ovens that use a fan to drive heat rapidly from source to food can be a good choice for eco-friendly kitchen ovens as they cook 25 percent faster than conventional ovens.
Use natural fabrics
For your dining chairs and window dressings, stick to natural fabrics like cotton and wool as far as possible. Man-made fabrics have chemicals that may harm the environment.
Choose environmentally friendly companies
Whether you’re planning your green kitchen cabinets or countertops, always source your materials from companies that are environment-friendly. Companies like Elmwood, Silestone, Caesarstone are popular brands that are also environmentally friendly.
Recycle and Upcycle, wherever possible
Recycling kitchen waste and even old furniture are a great way to go green. Design your eco-friendly kitchen cabinets out of reclaimed timber and use recycled material for flooring. Upcycle old pieces of furniture by coloring or reusing them to add vintage style to your kitchen- and you won’t even find a copy of it in your neighbor’s house!
Keep the air free of toxins
Did you know that resins in composite products for cabinetry, countertops, furniture, shelving etc. often contain urea formaldehyde which is dangerous to human health? Other organic compounds that could pose a threat as they off-gas are often present in different kinds of glue, sealant, and paint. Always be careful to choose eco-friendly kitchen products that have Greenguard certification- make sure to know what’s in your products, why it’s green and ensure they won’t emit harmful chemicals and spoil your indoor air quality.
Choose your eco-friendly kitchen appliances carefully- check that they are Energy Star certified, so they don’t hog power unnecessarily. Always turn off kitchen appliances when not in use- your microwave ovens, OTGs, mixers etc.
Cut down on lighting costs by using fluorescents, use LEDs and leverage the benefits of natural light as much as possible.
Eco-friendly kitchen cleaning products
Even when you’re cleaning up, use eco-friendly cleaning products that doesn’t emit harmful chemicals. Better still try to make your own cleaners from kitchen staples like vinegar and bicarbonate of soda.