Image via Greentea Design
Planning your dream kitchen but worried about your environmental footprint? It’s easy to introduce some eco-friendly elements. Some will even save you money and won’t sacrifice style. Indeed they elevate it.
Another Person’s Trash…
It starts before your demolition. After all one person’s trash is another’s treasure, so ask around – friends, family, neighbours, charitable organizations, salvage and secondhand shops – to see if anyone might be interested in what your getting rid of. From appliances to countertops, flooring planks and parts, sinks, cabinets, and tiles, divert as much as you can from the landfill, perhaps turning your refuse into an incredible gift. In some jurisdictions, Habitat for Humanity and like-minded charitable orgs can issue charitable tax receipts for these donations. If this seems like a lot of work and research on your end, then consider hiring a local green contractor (here’s a reputable one in Toronto) who will ensure your materials and components are reused, donated, and processed properly. These experts are a wonderful resource to guide you through eco-friendly choices that fit your function and style needs.
Beware of VOCs
Choose natural or zero-VOC or low-VOC paints. Image via Please Conserve
VOC stands for volatile organic compounds and these are the chemical substances that vaporize easily into air. It’s one reason the EPA has stated that indoor air generally is 2-5 times more polluted than outdoors. Paint, sealants, adhesives, the processing of particle and MDF boards, even expensive granite – gas off chemicals from formaldehyde to radon that have been linked to everything from asthma to cancer.
The good news is that there are lots of natural and low to zero VOC paints, primers and sealers now on the market. Do some research and talk to retailers about your options, especially if someone in your home suffers from asthma. Likewise talk to the retailers of your furniture and ask where the wood comes from and about their company’s sustainability guidelines.
If eco-friendliness is a priority for your renovations, choose sustainably harvested materials such as cork and bamboo where the trees and grasses respectively aren’t killed in harvesting (regrowth happens relatively quickly too, another plus). Recycled materials like glass, concrete, marmoleum and reclaimed wood are also good options but do ask about the processing as some treatments are more green than others. The design of these materials has come a long way in recent years and the market is full of stunning options.
Bamboo flooring, via Build Direct
Cork flooring via Cork Flooring Pros
Recycled glass for countertops via Vetrazzo
Butcher block countertop made of bamboo via My Home Ideas
Choosing energy efficient appliances will save you a bundle on your electricity bills over their lifetime.
And better yet get a thermal energy map of your home done to locate particularly drafty places. In older homes, because of their placement in the house, kitchens are big culprits. Investing in eco-friendly insulation is well worth it. Your choices run from natural batts made from old denim, fire resistant recycled newsprint, and soy-based spray in foam insulation.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Whether you repurpose old furniture, shop vintage, or seek out recycled and reclaimed products, using old furniture and materials is a wonderful way to add character, integrity, and beauty to your space. Think of the stories these pieces tell; and their age also attests to their strength to still be in use today.
Reclaimed Wood to create Floating Shelves via Apartment Therapy
Salvaged wood, recycled glass and GFRC concrete are just a few recycled products that can elevate a space with their beauty and character, harmonizing with many design schemes.
GFRC Countertop via Concrete Countertops
Greentea Design uses only reclaimed wood to build their kitchen cabinetry. Even their handles, hinges, and pulls are hand-forged from recycled iron.
Best of luck with your kitchen renovations!