How to design an eco-friendly kitchen

How to design an eco-friendly kitchen

With the important conversation around climate change being a constant topic of interest, we’re seeing eco-friendly kitchen designs become more and more popular. There are several ways you can reduce your kitchen's environmental impact, from the building techniques and materials used to the long-term sustainability consequences and energy efficiency of your appliances.

Below we have listed some considerations you might want to take into account to make your kitchen renovation eco-friendly.

1. Select eco-friendly kitchen materials

When designing your kitchen, you’ll find that there are many options to choose from. Whether you want to design your kitchen with sustainability in mind or not, you’ll likely have to narrow down some of those design choices. So why not narrow your options down to eco-friendly kitchen materials as a first step? For example, you can start by looking at suppliers that work with eco-friendly materials as well as suppliers that are local to you. Both aspects can greatly reduce your kitchen’s carbon footprint.

In eco-friendly kitchen materials, you’ll likely want to go for local types of wood for the cabinets, rather than more exotic imported ones. One way to identify wood sustainably managed forests is to watch out for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) logos.

For counters, solid stones like marble and granite are your most sustainable choice. They are natural materials which require minimal processing and will last you a lifetime with minimal maintenance. When it comes to sustainability, the longer you can use something, the smaller its environmental impact will be. While butcherblock counters are also made from a natural material, they won’t last nearly as long and will need revarnishing regularly, which involves chemicals.

A kitchen designed with eco-friendly materials such as natural wood cabinets and solid stone worktops.
Designing a kitchen with natural and local materials will reduce its environmental footprint.

2. Choose energy efficient appliances

Recent improvements in kitchen equipment focus on optimising processes as well as increasing energy efficiency. With the cost of living on the rise, opting for more efficient appliances will also save you money in the long run. While we love the convenience and efficiency of a hot water tap, the rule of thumb is, the bigger the appliance, the bigger the energy savings when you opt for a more eco-friendly version.

Especially for fridges and ovens, choosing an energy efficient option can make a significant difference. Luckily, this is easier now more than ever, as manufacturers have integrated energy efficiency at the core of their design processes. This is thanks to an increasing awareness around sustainability in both market demand and regulations.

Now if there’s one appliance that you want to make as energy efficient as possible, it’s got to be your fridge. Fridges have to run 24/7, so any reduction in energy usage will be instantly noticeable. But did you know that the layout of your kitchen can actually influence your fridge’s energy efficiency?

For perfect conditions, you’ll want to place it in a naturally cooler spot within your kitchen, for example along an exterior North-facing wall, away from sunlight and other heat sources such as radiators and ovens. If you don’t want to rearrange your kitchen or buy a new fridge, here are some smaller changes you can make to improve your fridge’s energy use.

A green fridge standing in a corner with leaves painted on the wall
Placing your fridge away from heat sources can make a significant impact on its energy efficiency.

3. Reuse and recycle kitchen materials

When we talked about eco-friendly kitchen materials, we already talked about how longevity is a key aspect of sustainability. Extending the life of an already existing kitchen item or piece of furniture is therefore a great way to instantly improve your kitchen’s environmental impact.

By reusing and recycling materials, you also avoid wasting both energy and resources during production. For example, you could look for used kitchen cabinets and worktops that can be adapted to fit your kitchen. Buying refurbished appliances gives you the option of reusing existing appliances that have been overhauled to be like new, but at a significantly lower price tag. If you factor in the environmental costs, your saving will be even more impactful.

Upcycling can also be fun and force you to think outside the box. It exercises your creativity, and at the same time gives you the opportunity to make your kitchen truly unique. If you want to take it a step further, make sure to recycle or upcycle your old kitchen. For example, you could move some of the cabinets into your shed or garage and use them for tool storage. If that’s not for you, you can always sell the parts on; your ‘trash’ might just be someone else’s kitchen treasure.

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