Are you considering a kitchen remodel? Why not make your new kitchen more eco-friendly than it was before? Here are 7 ways to make that happen.
1. Stick to the basic appliances.
Yes, there are amazing kitchen gadgets available. You may be able to afford an oven that could double as a smartphone, or an industrial-sized refrigerator, or a range that would be at home in a cooking show. But do you really need these things? How many people use your kitchen, and how often? Instead of going for the size of kitchen appliances or the number of gadgets, prioritize quality and suitability. You won’t regret it. Consider the wisdom of David Chong, the Canadian designer who created an Earth-friendly urban planning model and this corresponding tagline: “Small fridges make good cities.”
2. Re-gift old appliances and cabinetry instead of throwing them in the landfill.
Hit pause before you throw functional appliances in the landfill. Just because you don’t want your old workhorse appliances doesn’t mean no one else will. Besides, old appliances contain hazardous materials and chemicals that contaminate landfills. Contact kitchen remodeling experts in the Seattle area to learn about local take-back programs that will help you dispose of your old appliances responsibly.
You can also list your functional appliances, old flooring, and cabinets on websites such as Craigslist and Freecycle. Many second-hand appliance stores accept used appliances that are in working condition, and they will often pick up the items directly from your home to save you the trouble. Local organizations such as Habitat for Humanity may also be thankful for your gently-used kitchen cabinets, appliances, and flooring.
3. Stovetop: gas or electric?
There is not a quick answer to this question. Gas is a fossil fuel, a non-sustainable energy source, but gas stoves cook faster, produce less radiant heat, and consume fewer cleaning products and water to clean. If you decide on a gas stovetop, then remember that the lower the BTU output, the more energy-efficient your stove will be. BTU (British thermal unit) is the standard measure of heat output.
Electric ranges don’t rely directly on fossil fuel (which is good). Still, most electricity in America relies indirectly on fossil fuel sources such as coal-burning power plants (which is bad). Does your home’s electricity come from a sustainable source? If it’s an option, have you made the switch to a green power source? Electric stoves emit significantly less NO2 and CO into the air of your house. Watch for the EnergyStar sticker to indicate legitimate energy-efficient designs.
4. Plan practical locations in your new kitchen for a microwave, a pressure cooker, and a slow cooker.
Microwaves, pressure cookers and slow cookers (crockpots) use significantly less energy than the oven, especially when warming small or medium amounts of food. For example, Energy Star reports that using a microwave instead of a traditional oven can reduce cooking energy by as much as 80%. Pressure cookers reduce cooking energy by 70% in comparison to a traditional oven. A slow cooker, once brought up to temperature, will retain heat for up to 6 hours.
Kitchen remodeling is the perfect time to plan around these energy-saving cookers. Design your kitchen with practical and handy storage places for each.
5. Install a tap filter.
If you buy bottled water, then installing a tap filter is a no-brainer. Americans dispose of a staggering 70 million water bottles per day. Don’t add to this problem. Install a tap filter and use it to fill your reusable drink bottle.
A tap filter can remove impurities, including chemicals and residual pesticides. Making your own purified water is more eco-friendly than buying bottled water. Water bottles fall in the category of single-use plastics, which are one of the most toxic and troubling of the world’s current pollution problems.
6. Plan ahead for green waste.
If you care about remodeling an eco-friendly kitchen, then the chances are high that you also prepare much of your own food and eat locally grown fruit and vegetables. Bio-waste, which constitutes 70% of most household waste, should not be discarded in a landfill along with non-green rubbish. Bio-waste in a landfill creates methane gas, which has been identified as one of the primary causes of global warming and artificial atmospheric contamination. Compost your organic waste or dispose of it in bins provided by your local ordinance.
As you design your kitchen remodel, plan ahead for a practical place to contain the green waste generated in your kitchen.
7. Look for vintage cabinets, flooring, hardware, and even appliances.
Search on Craigslist, Freecycle, OfferUP, etc., for remodeling items that have enjoyed a previous life. Whether you are aiming for a “retro” look, love a deal, or feel that quality isn’t the same now as it used to be, using salvaged items as part of your remodel is a solid eco-friendly strategy.
Of you find old hardware or supplies that you love, you can work with your local kitchen remodeling company, which should have the expertise to install pre-used or antique kitchen hardware, cabinets, flooring, etc. Remodeling experts will help you mix and match new and used items to create the kitchen that feels like home while keeping an eye on practicality and energy efficiency.