The kitchen is the heart of the home. However, considering the fact that 10% of homeowners renovated their kitchen in the past year, there is a trend towards working on that heart to make sure it is perfect for your household. If it is time for a kitchen renovation, trying to make your space as environmentally friendly as possible is important. Below are six tips on how to make sure your kitchen renovation is as eco-friendly as possible.
1. Live in the Space
This may sound odd as a first tip, but if you are in a new home, make sure you live with your kitchen for at least a few weeks to a few months. By living with the room, you will be able to tell what it is that you do and don’t like about the kitchen. If it turns out that you hate where the oven and fridge are placed, you don’t want to have to renovate your kitchen again in a year or two because you realized how much you dislike the layout. A kitchen renovation may be a top priority for you now, but living with your kitchen as it is right now will help you be more environmentally friendly in the future.
After all, if you spend your renovation budget on the kitchen and end up disliking a major aspect of the design a few years down the line, you may become part of the 28% of homeowners that want to move every five years. Being able to turn your existing home into your dream home by renovating it to be eco-friendly is the most sustainable decision you can make, but having to renovate every few years will have a negative impact on your home’s environmental-friendliness.
2. Choose a Contractor with Experience in Sustainable Remodels
Once you have lived in your kitchen and decided what exactly will work best in the space, make sure that you hire a contractor who understands your sustainability goals and will work with you to achieve them. A contractor with experience in environmentally-friendly design will have experience in working with different materials and appliances that you can use to make your kitchen as eco-friendly as possible.
3. Choose Eco-Friendly, Sustainable Materials
The first step to making sure your kitchen is as sustainable as possible is ensuring that the materials you use are not negatively impacting the environment. The most sustainable option is always to reuse old materials, so consider reusing and updating elements that are already in your kitchen. Refinishing existing cabinets is a great way to reuse something in your kitchen while still giving it a new and updated appearance.
If you need to buy new materials, make sure that they are sustainably produced. For example, choosing to use bamboo when possible is a great sustainable alternative to traditional woods. Check with your contractor and do your own independent research on specific products being used to make sure they don’t have harmful chemicals included in them. Some forms of wood have formaldehyde, and some construction materials and paints have volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in them. Do not use any product that has chemicals that are damaging to the environment wherever you can help it.
4. Choose Eco-Friendly Appliances
There are many appliances that belong in your kitchen, and living without them is not realistic. Make sure that you choose the most environmentally-friendly option when it comes to picking out the appliances that will be in your kitchen for years to come. Energy Star is one brand that boasts its environmental friendliness and the money-saving effects that come with them, but make sure to do your own research to find what will work best for your home and your family.
5. Include a Compost System
It is not always realistic to have a compost bin in your home, but figuring out a system that can help you compost your food waste and other compostable materials is a great way to be eco-friendly and have sustainable, environmentally conscious, and cheap fertilizer at your disposal.
Some towns have compost programs where you can get your compost picked up weekly or bi-weekly for a small fee, and a few times a year you get fertilizer in return. This is a great option if the idea of going through the entire composting process seems overwhelming to you.
Keeping a small, airtight bin of some sort in your kitchen for compost is a good idea no matter if you are outsourcing your composting or doing it yourself. There are different bins that you can find online that are specifically designed for holding compost, but any airtight container will do. Just make sure it is really airtight — compost does not smell very good once it starts breaking down.
Make sure to hang or display a list of what is and is not compostable when you first begin using a composting system. There are many lists online that detail what you can and can’t compost, and having one of those lists on display can help everyone in your household adjust to a new eco-friendly practice.
6. Use Sustainable Cleaning Products
Your kitchen should be kept clean and sanitized at all times to make sure that everyone in your household stays healthy. However, some cleaning products are harmful to the environment and using them in the room where you prep your meals could mean a harmful impact on your household’s health as well. Make sure to check out the brand of cleaning products you’re using to ensure it’s eco-friendly, and double-check that there are no potentially harmful chemicals in your products.
Make sure that you are routinely cleaning your kitchen so that dust, dirt, and grime don’t have the chance to build up. Since eco-friendly cleaners have less harsh ingredients in them, they can’t cut through layers of grime in the same way as harmful chemicals can. That may mean wiping down your counters every day or dusting on top of your cabinets more often than you used to. Considering the fact that half of all dust is made up of dead skin cells and we have approximately 300 million skin cells, dust can build up and collect pretty easily.
With these tips, you can begin your journey towards a more eco-friendly kitchen. Whether you have been living in your home for weeks or years, a kitchen renovation may the right decision to help improve the sustainability and beauty of your home.