A 21st century kitchen needs to be many things. It needs to be functional, a space where the family can gather for a meal as much as a space for a cook to work their magic. It needs to be stylish, contributing to the design of the home.
Increasingly, however, sustainability is rising to the top of concerns for people designing their new kitchen.
Designing a sustainable kitchen requires an extra layer of thought and planning, but armed with the right information and resources a sustainable kitchen can fall well within your budget.
Sustainable Materials For The Modern Kitchen
The good news for people designing a sustainable kitchen is that there are plenty of materials to choose from.
If the opportunity arises, recycle. Salvage appliances and fittings, including taps, sinks and counter-tops are carbon-positive, as you are reducing both waste and consumption.
It can be difficult to find the right items this way, however. Luckily, there are other options.
Some sustainable options for materials include wood laminate flooring, counter-tops made from recycled papers and plastics, and sustainable materials like engineered bamboo.
Engineered bamboo is particularly good as a sustainable kitchen material as it is much like wood – except that it grows up to 20 times quicker, soaks up more carbon while growing and produce up to 30% more oxygen in the process! It is also easy and relatively cheap to farm.
The real advantage of engineered bamboo is that for its weight it is a very sturdy material. There really isn't a better sustainable material available beyond salvaged or recycled materials.
Sustainable Kitchen Appliances
The kitchen is often the place where we keep most of our appliances, and for this reason we need to pay attention to all of our kitchen appliances and how we use them.
For example, most ovens do not need to be preheated any more as they generally heat up quickly anyway. The ten minutes or so that the oven is on and empty represents a significant waste of energy over time.
Other things you can do to up the sustainability of your kitchen is to use the correct size pots for the hobs and, surprisingly, using a dishwasher rather than washing dishes by hand.
Of course, that only works if the dishwasher in question is A+ rated.
A sustainable kitchen should aim to have only A+ rated appliances. These appliances use less energy to do the same job, and major kitchen appliances like fridges and washing machines display their ratings clearly for you.
Finally, the relationship you have with waste food drastically effects the sustainability of your kitchen.
When possible, you should buy unpackaged, fresh food and only use your own reusable bags.
Cooking in bulk can also be a real carbon-saver, as well as a good way to save time and money. Most cooked foods can be frozen and reheated later on.
And any food that does have to be thrown away should always go in a compost bin. If you don't need the compost because you don't have a garden, there are always local farmers or gardeners who are happy to take it.
A sustainable kitchen can only be achieved with attention to detail. Doing the proper research as to the sustainability of materials and appliances is key, but remember to also be mindful of how you use your sustainable kitchen – after all, that's half the battle!