4. Sustainable materials
If opting for timber for flooring or cabinetry, look for FSC-certified wood or plywood. Melamine Faced Chipboard (MFC) and Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) can be eco-friendly, if made using recycled materials, while Ecoboard is even better as it’s made using compressed agricultural byproducts. Bamboo is another great sustainable product, as it is so fast-growing.
Glass, terrazzo and many sintered stone or mineral-based quartz score highly in the recycled content stakes for eco-friendly worksurface and splashback options. EcoStone by Lochanna is made from 93% quarry stone waste, while AluSplash creates splashback mades from re-used aluminium that’s 100% recyclable and Foresso timber terrazzo is made from a minimum of 65% waste material.
Foresso timber terrazzo is made from a minimum of 65% waste material. Photo: Tom Bird
5. Eco-friendly flooring
Responsibly sourced timber or stone and fast-growing bamboo will have minimal environmental impact. Cork is also well worth considering for an eco-friendly kitchen, along with biodegradable linoleum.
For a different look, resin can be used to replicate concrete flooring, without the environmentally taxing processes and huge quantities of water and chemicals needed to produce cement.
Cork is an organic, renewable product that acts as a natural sound- and thermal-insulator. Brands such as Granorte (pictured) use waste from other industries to make high-spec flooring.
6. Low or no VOC content
When released, volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, react with nitrogen oxides in the air to create fine particle pollution. VOCs can be present in building materials, flooring, composite wood products, and adhesives, as well as in some paints. Released slowly over time, VOCs not only have a detrimental effect on the environment, they can be a risk to your health.
Choosing materials with low or no VOC content is key for healthy homes, so ensure this is part of your brief. Also think about how your home will be ventilated to reduce the risks where products that emit VOCs have to be used.
Avoid products incorporating formaldehyde and look for composite materials such as MDF or plywood graded E1 to ensure low emissions. Greenguard-certified products also have low chemical and particle emissions.
Earthborn’s Claypaint is virtually VOC free and contains no acrylic or oil
7. Green tech
Many modern advances in kitchen appliances are aimed not only at streamlining tasks, but making them more energy efficient too. A boiling water tap, for example, not only provides hot water on demand, but also aims to tackle the £68 million a year the UK wastes in electricity boiling kettles.
Cooking and cooling appliances are reducing the power consumption needed to run them, while innovations in cleaning appliances also seek to use less water.
Every appliance will have an energy rating label to help you work out the cost of running it, with an estimated amount that it will consume – e.g. 150 kWh/annum. Multiply this rate by how much you pay per kWh, which you’ll find on your electricity bill.
The label will also compare water use, capacity and noise, depending on its category. Each has a rating from A+++ to D. Typically, choosing an A+++ fridge-freezer over an A+ unit will save about £200 in energy over the product’s lifetime. Look for the new E-label being phased in that rates energy efficiency and performance – this one runs from A up to G. Hobs without an integrated extractor aren’t rated.
Fisher & Paykel’s ActiveSmart technology can help reduce the amount of energy used. Photo: Shannan McGrath
8. Energy-efficient lighting
Creating a detailed plan helps to ensure your lighting scheme is as eco-friendly as possible. When considering the layout, make sure key areas receive the most natural light. A rooflight or glass doors could provide ample daylight for a food preparation area, for example. When it comes to artificial illumination choose LEDs, which have a long lifespan of up to 30,000 hours and are very energy-efficient. It will save you money in the long run and reduce waste
Check the colour temperature as well as brightness of your LEDs – they will be available in shades from cool to warm. Generally, cooler tones are good to work by, while warm whites are better for creating a cosy feel. LED strips and tape are ideal for areas that are less focused on practical task work, such as around plinths and below shelves and worktops. Keep this decorative lighting on a separate circuit or dimmer, and be aware that you’ll need somewhere to house a transformer to power it.
German manufacturer Rotpunkt offers customers the chance to make their kitchen 100% carbon neutral
9. Shop local
Ideally, buy from kitchen suppliers close to your home that use local and sustainably sourced materials to reduce your project’s carbon footprint.
If you can’t shop local for your eco-friendly kitchen, check the ethical and eco policies of the company you’re buying from. Sustainable Kitchens aims to ‘ensure that our business practices respect environmental limits, avoid the depletion of resources, and recognise the interconnectedness of a healthy economy, society and the environment’.
The Main Company has a reputation for crafting beautiful kitchens from new, salvaged and reclaimed materials, while German manufacturer Rotpunkt offers customers the chance to make their kitchen 100% carbon neutral.