How many times have your friends come over and instead of sitting in your living room they
head straight for your kitchen, pull up a chair and hang out there for the rest of their visit.
That’s not a surprise.
For many of us, the kitchen is often one of our favorite and most-used rooms in the home.
So, if you’re looking to green your home, there’s no better place to start than your kitchen.
Our kitchens have increasingly become the focal point of many of our homes–serving as a
multi-functional living space where we cook, eat, work and entertain–so many health and
eco-conscious people are looking for green, renewable, energy-efficient and sustainable
alternatives to use in their kitchens, as well as other rooms.
Of course, we all don’t have large kitchens–especially urban apartment dwellers like me–
but we still need to shape them into the greener, more functional spaces we need
to make our healthy, natural whole food meals, juices and smoothies, DIY projects
and natural remedies.
We are all at different stages in our journeys to transition a healthier, more eco-friendly lifestyle.
But sometimes just a few simple changes can make a world of difference.
If you want to improve your home’s indoor air quality and reduce the toxins you and
your family are exposed to, pay careful attention to the materials used in your kitchen cabinets,
finishes, paints and flooring.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started or to incorporate into your current regime.
7 Ways to Make Your Kitchen Greener
#1. Use Green Kitchen Furnishings & Finishes
Think about using natural materials wherever possible.
If you’re remodelling your kitchen choose wood units made from sustainable sources,
including salvaged and renewable wood.
To improve your home’s indoor air quality and reduce the toxins you and your family
are exposed to, pay close attention to the composition of your kitchen cabinets.
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen so it is important to choose formaldehyde-free alternatives.
“Cabinets, and particularly their interior boxes,
are usually made of particleboard, fiberboard
or plywood–all of which are often made with
added urea formaldehyde binders or glues,
which release fumes.
Formaldehyde-free and low-VOC alternatives,
include FSC-certified plywood, bamboo plywood and
agrifiber boards, which make smart use of agricultural
by-products, an annually renewable resource.”
*Choose Eco-friendly Countertops
You can choose from a variety of durable, eco-friendly countertops in the form of wood, tiles, stone,
concrete, recycled glass, stainless steel etc.
*Look for natural woods and products made from FSC-certified wood.
Choosing a sustainable wood can be as easy as seeking one that is certified by the Forest Stewardship
Council (FSC), which ensures, in part, that wood products come from responsibly harvested forests.
Cherry, maple or oak are attractive green alternatives to consider when planning to make your
kitchen more environmentally-friendly.
Bamboo is a durable, fast-growing, renewable option that will work wonders for your kitchen.
It’s great for for backsplashes, flooring as well as cooking utencils–and great for your budget.
*Use No- and low-VOC finishes.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemical fumes emitted from some materials.
“For improved indoor air quality, select finishes
labeled “no-VOC” or “low-VOC.”
Water-based products–with naturally fewer VOCs–
are best for a safe and durable cabinet finish.
To be sure of product safety, you can seek
certifications from Green Seal or GreenGuard–
two industry-independent organizations that
give their seal of approval to building products
with low chemical emissions.”
Do your homework and choose eco-friendly options for flooring as well.
#2. Add Some Green Plants
Bring some green life into your green kitchen.
Plants increase oxygen and air filtration, create a calming atmosphere, and add beauty
to any kitchen.
Choose a few of your favorite house plants.
Or grow a few organic vegetables and herbs if you have room.
If space is an issue, you can hang a few plants from the ceiling on or the wall.
Best of all, you can grow your own lush wall garden with a living wall kit.
Most kits include a removable reservoir and water collection tray so that watering is a snap.
#3. Use Eco Friendly Containers, Pots & Equipment
You should also use natural materials for your storage and cooking needs.
Opt for wood or bamboo chopping boards and glass or lead-free ceramic containers
to store your food in.
Stainless steel is also a great eco-friendly option which looks great too and has
hygienic properties–perfect for kitchen use.
Eco friendly recycled plastic storage containers are available, however, I prefer natural
You can make or buy recycled drinking glasses made from used glass bottles.
Also replace your old aluminum pots, pans and utensils with stainless steel or green cookware.
Toss those non-stick pans: Teflon, Silverstone and other coatings emit harmful perflourochemicals
The EPA classifies them as carcinogens.
#4. Compost Your Food Waste
Tons of food waste is hauled to the landfill each year.
And although the food itself is biodegradable when mixed in with other materials in the
landfill it doesn’t degrade in the way it would if you composted the food waste.
This is an easy way to start making your kitchen area a little greener.
Set a large bowl or small compost container at the end of the kitchen counter and
ask for food scraps to be placed inside.
You can then compost this waste in your garden compost container or your community’s
local composting center.
#5. Make or Buy Ecofriendly Cleaners
There are many natural cleaning solutions which can be found right in your cupboards.
You can use vinegar and baking soda for most of your daily cleaning needs.
Also, natural soap mixed with a little water can be used to clean just about anything, from
countertops to floors.
If you choose to buy your cleaning products instead, opt for eco-friendly cleaners which
won’t harm the environment.
Use microfiber and other eco-friendly cleaning cloths instead of paper towels.
#6. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle
Set up a recycling system in your kitchen or utility room and get the family to pitch in.
You can even make a game of reducing the amount of waste that’s hauled to the landfill.
For example, if you only end up with one bag of garbage for the week then you can reward
the whole family to a fun family outing.
Also reuse and repurpose empty bottles and containers instead of discarding them.
By setting goals for how much you’d like to reduce your waste, you’ll be more likely to recycle.
#7. Use Less Energy
Invest in energy efficient kitchen appliances and lighting, as much as possible.
These not only have a lesser impact on the environment, but also save you
money in the long run.
When you go shopping, think your appliance choices through carefully.
For example, refrigerators with built-in ice dispensers use more energy than the
Think about the size of your family too.
Do you really need that huge refrigerator or stove?
Or do you like it more for its cosmetic appeal?
After assessing your needs, just make sure to buy an Energy Star rated refrigerator.
Do you use a dishwasher?
This may surprise you but your dishwasher is one appliance that actually uses less energy
than the manual alternative.
Dishwashers are efficient devices.
They use less water than someone standing over a sink usually does, and they usually clean
dishes better too.
Buy an Energy Star Rated dishwasher if you don’t already have one.
An Energy Star Rated dishwasher uses at least 40% less energy than an old dishwasher will.
There are a few things to keep in mind though:
Always use the dishwasher with a full load (but not overloaded). That way it works at its most
efficient level and provides the greatest savings.
Don’t rinse off food waste; scrape it off to save on water.
Set the dishwasher to the lowest heat level you safely can. Check the manual for this.
Don’t use the automatic air-dry function. Simply let the dishes air dry naturally. It takes a little
longer, but costs nothing!
Don’t use the rinse function on your dishwasher. It can use up to seven gallons of hot water!
You normally don’t need it.
Make sure to know before you go.
In short, research the best eco-friendly, energy-efficient choices for your needs
and within your budget, before you you shop.
And ask lots of questions when you shop.
#8. Use Filtered Instead of Bottled Water
Unfortunately, most tap water is not free from dangerous contaminants.
Water filters currently provide the best and healthiest solution to the problems of both
bottled water and tap water.
A good multi-stage filter will usually remove more dangerous contaminants than msot other
purification method, and they are uniquely designed to work with municipally treated water.
But do your research to find the right water filter for your specific needs, because there are
many filters of varying quality and cost on the market.
To help address concerns about the safety and performance of products sold worldwide and marketed
for treating household water supplies, NSF International developed several American National
Standards covering a wide array of water treatment systems.
While the NSF certification program is not flawless, it does provide some assurance that at least
some claims made by the manufacturer have been verified.
You can search for NSF Certified Drinking Water Treatment Units, Water Filters here.
Drinking filtered water is a much more economical and better for the environment than drinking
The pure water produced by a water filter costs very little more than untreated tap water.
Furthermore, because water filters use no more energy than is already required to propel water
through a home’s plumbing system, they circumvent many of the environmental problems of the
bottled water industry.
When it comes to living greener, small steps add up to big changes over time.
Sure, being eco-friendly does mean compromising in some instances, but we should view
this as a positive thing, rather than a negative.
The more we can all do to help the environment, the better–and there’s no better time to
start like the present.
And no better place to start in than your own kitchen.
Of course, these are just a few of the many things we can do to make our
What other changes have you made to make your kitchen greener? Share you tips.
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