Out of all the rooms in an average house, the kitchen is often considered the least eco-friendly and energy-efficient. The combination of many large appliances that generally run for long periods of time makes the kitchen one of the most energy-intensive rooms in a house. There are many factors that go into how green your kitchen is, many of which can be altered to make your kitchen more eco-friendly.
Whether you have just moved in or have been living with your kitchen for years, it is always a good time to make your kitchen more green. There are many options when you are looking to make your kitchen greener ranging from inexpensive, low-effort changes to more substantial, expensive options. There is no need to get your entire kitchen and rebuild it from the studs to achieve an eco-friendly kitchen, though that is an option. This guide will offer a range of ways to make your kitchen green.
Do note that how you use your kitchen will greatly affect how green it ends up being. You can build the most energy-efficient and green kitchen, but the food you bring in and how you prepare that food can impact your overall environmental friendliness. This guide will focus solely on the tool that is the kitchen and now how that tool is used.
Replace Only What Needs to be Replaced
The greenest thing you can do is not throw something out that is still functional. There are exceptions to this rule, like a highly energy inefficient old large appliance, but in general, if something still works don’t replace it. You may not like the look of your toaster anymore or maybe it is a few years removed from being the newest model, but so long as it still works there is no reason to replace it. Not contributing to unnecessary waste is the greenest thing you can do.
Of course, when an item breaks and is beyond repair, it is perfectly acceptable to replace the item then. However, replace the broken item with an eco-friendly version. If a light bulb burns out, replace it with an LED bulb after double-checking your electrical system for potentially blown fuses. The time will come when something in your kitchen breaks, but this is an opportunity to replace it with a greener version and improve the overall eco-friendliness of your kitchen.
The Right Size
There was a time when everything was being made smaller. We went from massive brick mobile phones to slim lightweight phones, but now phones are growing in size again. The same thing is happening with appliances. Oversized refrigerators, ovens, and microwaves are the newest fad, but this is not an eco-friendly trend. The larger the appliance the more energy it uses and potentially wastes. Unless all that extra space is being used regularly, it is creating waste.
Instead of buying the biggest appliance possible consider how much space you actually need. Do you truly need a microwave that can defrost a 20+ pound turkey? Take an honest look at how much space you need and buy an appliance of an appropriate size.
Energy Efficient Large Appliances
It is generally greener to maintain and repair large appliances rather than replace them. However, old and severely energy inefficient appliances should be swapped out for new greener versions. Modern appliances are more energy-efficient than older models, but there are modern appliances even greener than the rest. Appliances bearing the Energy Star label are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be more energy efficient. Energy Star appliances do tend to cost more than models without the certification, they will make up that extra cost over time. Due to their energy efficiency, Energy Star appliances use less energy than standard appliances which will save you money on your monthly energy bills. This enables you to recoup the extra cost of an Energy Star appliance.
Remodeling and Renovating the Green Way
If you are looking to do a large scale kitchen construction project there are some green ways to go about it. When looking for building materials or kitchen components turn first to salvaged or reclaimed items. Reclaimed wood can be used for flooring or countertops. Used cabinets can be given a new life and look with some DIY restoration. An added benefit of second-hand materials is that they have already stood the test of time and will remain durable. When you remove things from your kitchen, do not throw them out. Instead, offer up the items so someone else can use them. Freecycle is a nonprofit site dedicated to keeping usable items out of landfills that connects people looking to give away or receive free goods around the world.
If reclaimed, salvaged, or second-hand materials aren’t an option, then consider using new green materials. Countertops can be made out of recycled paper and floors can be made of bamboo or cork. Be sure to do your research before buying materials though. Bamboo can be a green material, though not all bamboo is.
Making your kitchen greener doesn’t need to be overly complicated. Replacing broken or highly inefficient appliances with appropriately sized modern appliances will go a long way towards reducing your energy usage. Should you decide to remodel, look for reclaimed or green materials.