A kitchen makeover is one of the most impactful and expensive projects you’ll undertake in your home. A significant remodel will improve not only your kitchen’s looks but also its functionality. If you’re going all-out on your project, you might as well make the space as eco-friendly as possible.
For one, sustainable and recycled materials can be transformed into beautiful, upscale pieces that rival the quality of ones made with traditional materials. ; Plus, having energy-efficient appliances consume less power than traditional ones without sacrificing performance. This is not only better for your bills but also the environment. But where should you start?
Hire a professional contractor
Start your eco-friendly kitchen project by hiring an experienced residential contractor. They’ll know the best equipment, materials, and subcontractors for the job. Start by looking for construction firms in your area. Scan through their websites and social media if they’ve had green building-certified projects before. If they don’t, contact their team to see if they can see your vision of an eco-friendly kitchen.
You might have to go through a lot of phone calls and back-and-forth emails to hire a contractor, but it’s worth the effort if you find one that fits your personality and preferences. After all, they’ll be the ones doing most of the work for your project.
Find sustainable material providers
Now that you have a contractor to work on your project, it’s time to find the materials for your project. Work closely with the project manager to ensure you’re getting the right materials for the following parts of your kitchen:
- Cabinets and floors — Wood might be a renewable resource, but a lot of cabinets and floors on the market are often made from freshly-cut trees from forests. If you’re buying new wood, make sure they’re certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). These certifications ensure that the logs you buy come from legal and responsibly-cut forests.
If you want to go all-in on recycled materials, look for providers that use reclaimed wood. Reclaimed wood is processed wood that came from abandoned or demolished barns, warehouses, wine casts, factories, warehouses, and more.
These are often made from old wood, or from trees that have been growing from decades to even centuries, so they’re denser than new wood made from young trees. Plus, they have a natural patina from years of use and exposure to the elements, which gives a genuine vintage look to your cabinets.
- Countertops — Marble, porcelain, and granite are the choice for a lot of countertop remodels. They look great and last a lifetime. However, they need to be mined, quarried, and processed to make them usable. Some mining and quarrying companies leave pits of waste material in their sites that can endanger wildlife and the plants surrounding them. If you want to have a sustainable countertop, here are your options:
- Recycled or recyclable wood — You can also use reclaimed wood for your countertops or even bamboo butcher blocks. Both are renewable and recyclable materials that can resist moisture when sealed.
- Recycled paper — There are also recycled paper countertops. These are non-toxic and can resist heat of up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Recycled glass — Finally, if you want to add a touch of color to your kitchen, get a recycled glass countertop. These are made of glass sourced from used beer, pop, and liquor bottles, as well as automotive glass. The combination of colors and the shine from the glass material can give your kitchen a unique look.
- Safe paint — Most of the paint you find on store shelves might contain volatile organic compounds or VOCs. VOCs are solvents emitted to the air by specific materials. When inhaled, they can cause a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, and more. High concentrations can even lead to memory impairment and visual disorders in some people. Work with your contractor to use paints with little to no VOCs to avoid these possible issues.
Use efficient appliances
Your appliances consume energy that power companies provide. The process of creating that energy emits greenhouse gases into the air. These gases trap heat in the earth’s surface instead of letting it escape into space, causing temperatures to rise across the world. This is a phenomenon known as global warming, and it can create extreme weather events, including rising tides from melted ice caps to massive droughts and wildfires.
Apart from performance, look for energy efficiency in your appliances. One way to do this is to look for an Energy Star label. Energy Star is a government-backed agency that certifies the efficiency of appliances, from light bulbs to refrigerators. Efficient appliances consume less energy, which in turn lowers your bills and the greenhouse gas emissions your home creates.
Apart from balancing your home’s beauty and functionality, you should also consider its eco-friendliness. This is especially true for the kitchen, where most of your energy-hungry appliances will be. Use these suggestions to create a sustainable and energy-efficient space, so you can cook and prepare genuinely guilt-free meals.