Some say that the kitchen is the heart and soul of a home. When you’re looking to make your home greener, don’t forget about this important room! The kitchen is usually one of the most frequently updated rooms in a home, and it’s also where you use a hefty chunk of your energy and resources. Paying attention to the choices you make and intentionally selecting green products is the best way to be environmentally responsible. Focus on these five major areas for the best results.
Plumbing and Water Use: If you’re replacing pipes, think carefully about what you install. Although PVC is the most common type of pipe people choose, it’s usually not recycled because it’s so cheap to make PVC out of new materials. In addition, PVC emits harmful chemicals during its life span. Instead, consider polypropylene or polyethylene pipes, or metal pipes with epoxy linings to increase their lifespan. Reduce your water use by installing a foot pedal for your sink and running your dishwasher only when it is full.
Flooring: Although those laminate floors you’ve been eyeing are pretty, they aren’t very green. Instead, opt for floors made out of renewable resources. Linoleum, although it may seem old-fashioned, is one of the best choices. The flooring is renewable, durable and cheap. If you must have wood floors in your kitchen, opt for bamboo or cork, which are more renewable than hardwoods, or use reclaimed hardwoods, so you can recycle materials that would otherwise be wasted.
Appliances: Although your old appliances may work, they also may be using far more energy than new ones would. When it’s time for a kitchen upgrade, switch out old appliances for new energy efficient ones. This is especially important with refrigerators, given that newer models often have multiple doors or drawers for the fridge and freezer portions so you don’t have to let as much cold air out each time you need something. Choose appliances with the Energy Star rating, and make sure they’re sized correctly so you don’t waste energy, heat or water on a space that’s larger than you need.
Cleaning Supplies: Because of all of the food preparation that goes on in a kitchen, it’s the room that people feel most strongly about cleaning regularly. However, those cleaning supplies you use may be damaging to the environment. Instead, opt for some green alternatives. Many kitchen cleaning tasks can be accomplished with baking soda, which scours and deodorizes, and white vinegar, which is a natural disinfectant. You can also choose products with natural solvents, biodegradable ingredients and recycled packaging.
Food: Don’t forget about going green with your food, which is ultimately what a kitchen is all about. Choose locally grown and organic foods to help protect the environment. Foods that are grown or produced near where you live help the environment by wasting less fuel on transportation. Additionally, they’ll probably taste better because they are fresher due to decreased travel time. Organic foods are also a green option because they don’t involve the use of pesticides, which can significantly damage the water supply.
If all of these steps seem daunting, start with just one and work your way up to the others when you are ready. Every little change you make does have an impact (even if it’s a small one), and over time, these changes will add-up to have a significant effect on the environment. And remember, in addition to protecting the environment, many of the changes have a positive impact on your wallet.