Green Kitchen Makeover: 20+ Eco-Friendly Choices

Whether you’re building a new kitchen from scratch or just updating your old one, there are a lot of opportunities to choose environmentally friendly fixtures and appliances that will reduce your demands for resources and make your kitchen a healthier place to prepare food. This guide to green kitchens will help you determine what eco-friendly options exist for major kitchen components like cabinets, countertops, appliances, faucets, flooring, lighting and finishes.

Cabinets: Bamboo and Reclaimed Wood

(images via: elle decor/supercozy, laguna bamboo)

Avoid purchasing new kitchen cabinets that are made from materials like unsustainably harvested wood, laminates, or anything that has been treated with finishes that can off-gas toxic chemicals into your kitchen. Two ideal eco-friendly choices for kitchen cabinets include reclaimed wood, and bamboo. Reclaimed cabinets can be found at architectural salvage shops and Habitat for Humanity stores. If you’re handy, you could also use wood reclaimed from other sources, like barns, ships or even pallets, to build your own.

Bamboo cabinets are durable, strong and have a high-end look. As an extremely fast-growing grass that can shoot up to five feet tall in a single day, bamboo is a highly renewable material.

Countertops: Recycled Materials and Composites

(images via: icestone, paperstone products, enviroglas products, mocoloco)

Common countertop materials like granite and laminates are not the best choice for environmentally friendly kitchens. Instead, look for materials like bamboo, recycled stainless steel, recycled plastics, recycled glass and eco-friendly composites. PaperStone is made from 100% post-consumer paper waste compressed into a solid block or sheet, and then protected with natural resin. There are many different types of recycled plastic countertops including LineUp by 3Form, which is made from post-consumer plastic bottles. Recycled glass is yet another green and beautiful choice, giving you lots of opportunities for color customization. Bits of recycled glass are typically mixed with a durable material. For example, IceStone is made from recycled glass and concrete, while EnviroGlas is mixed with porcelain.

Appliances: Energy Star Conserves Resources

(images via: kenmore, eco home magazine, appliancist)

When choosing appliances for your kitchen, look for Energy Star models that conserve resources like electricity and water. Not only will these appliances cut back on your energy consumption, they’ll also save you money over time. Energy Star refrigerators use at least 20% less energy than models not labeled with the Energy Star logo, and can cut energy bills by $165 over the lifetime of the fridge. And new water-saving dishwashers are giving us some new insight on whether hand washing or using a dishwasher is better for the environment, including the Bosch 800 Plus, which uses as little as 1.5 gallons of water per cycle – 70% less than average.
Induction cooktops are a great way to save both energy and time. Energy is transferred in a much more efficient manner than with a gas flame or electrical element, heating food more quickly. Some models, like the Smeg, can save up to 85% more energy than a conventional electric cooktop.

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