Kitchens lend themselves very nicely to a sustainable makeover, as there are so many different aspects that can be changed or adapted to make the room more eco-friendly, whatever your budget. Sustainability is the watchword for all current building design and construction, but how can you create a sustainable kitchen?
We all know about recycling plastic food packaging, but why not take it a step further by using recycled materials in the design of the kitchen itself? Salvage yards are great places to pick up a bargain, and you’re more likely to find something unique to kit out your kitchen.
You may think that using reclaimed materials means you need to go for a rustic look, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Of course, you can embrace this style, but you can also upcycle items and achieve a much more contemporary design while sticking to your values.
Natural Materials for a Greener Approach
Old pieces of wood, scaffolding planks and even railway sleepers are fantastic for repurposing as shelves in a kitchen. They tend to be sturdier than modern MDF, so you can use them for heavier objects without worrying about your crockery crashing to the floor.
Stone floor tiles are durable, hardwearing and look great. Make a floor feature with different tiles to create designs or patterns, or choose one stone throughout for a free-flowing appearance. If you prefer, poured resin gives a lovely smooth finish and is easy to maintain but is expensive. For something different, bamboo or cork are renewable resources growing in popularity while upping the sustainability quota.
High-Quality Wooden Worktops
Not only do wooden worktops look great, but they’re also one of the most sustainable methods of manufacture. Several UK companies, such as House of Worktops, have a unique zero-waste production system where they use every single material to create Eco-Fuel. So, you’re doing your bit for the environment before you even have your worktops fitted.
Several varieties of wood are used, including oak, beech, ash and walnut, so there is bound to be a hue and grain that suits your style.
Reuse and Recycle
One of the most common ways of cutting costs in a kitchen renovation is to reuse your existing kitchen cabinets. Reconfiguring, replacing or repainting your kitchen cabinets provides a fresh new look with minimal financial outlay.
Reusing existing cabinets is automatically a more sustainable way of living, as you’re recycling what is already there and saving on your carbon footprint. If you don’t want to do this, there are still many ways you can repurpose your kitchen cabinets in other areas of your house. For example, they make an excellent shoe-storage bench in a hallway or the basis for a home office desk. The possibilities are endless.
Make a Splash with Eco-Friendly Paints
If you’re going to paint your cabinet doors or even refresh the walls with a new colour, several eco-friendly paints are on the market. When selecting your new shade, low VOCs (volatile organic compounds), natural and organic formulas, recycled packaging, and carbon offsetting commitments are all things to consider.
Each brand has different eco-credentials, including pigments such as linseed and chalk, recycled steel pots, and partnering with ocean clean-up campaigns. Shop around to find which brand best suits your ethics.
Be Smarter with Water Technology
The must-have for any modern kitchen is an intelligent tap that dispenses boiling water, saving hundreds of pounds on electricity bills. The water only boils when it leaves the tank, rather than continuously heating within it. It’s believed that as much as £68 million a year is wasted in electricity with excess kettle boiling, and a recent study by Triton Showers found that 47% of people boil a full kettle for a single cup of tea.
Conserving water is just as important. Homeowners should prioritise taps and appliances (including dishwashers and washing machines) that work with a low water flow and minimise water consumption when making their kitchen more sustainable.
Do More and Save More with Energy-Efficient Lighting and Appliances
LED lighting is more widely used throughout our homes as we switch from more traditional lightbulbs. LEDs can be 75-80% more efficient than standard lightbulbs and last up to 25 times longer, making them a no-brainer. Opt for warm white shades in the kitchen for greater functionality.
The Energy Savings Trust has some great tips for buying new appliances to ensure you’re as energy-efficient as possible. Appliances are tested for how much energy they use during typical use and are rated on a scale of A to G, with A being the most efficient product of its class and G being the least efficient.
Sustainable Kitchen Renovation – Final thoughts
There’s so much you can do when renovating a kitchen to make it more sustainable. Manufacturers are continually designing new products and solutions to increase the ecological benefits, so there’s no longer any excuse not to go green.