eco-friendly kitchens: The Main Company uses sustainable plywood for kitchen cabinets

9 eco-friendly kitchen design ideas

Limit the environmental impact of your new scheme with these sustainable measures

By Paula Woods | 11 November 2021

As climate change continues to hit the headlines, taking eco-friendly kitchen design into consideration when planning a self-build or renovation is more important than ever.

From the construction methods and materials used in the build to long-term sustainability implications and energy-efficient appliances, there are plenty of ways to lower your kitchen’s carbon footprint.

These days, there’s no need for your environmentally friendly choices to impact design and functionality. Grand Designs magazine explores several stylish ways to create an eco-friendly kitchen.

modern kitchen made using sustainable methods and materials - grand designs

This bespoke kitchen by Sustainable Kitchens was made using local FSC-certified timber, E1 birch plywood, and water-based paints and varnishes

1. Reclaim and re-use

Using reclaimed and salvaged materials and furniture prevents perfectly good items going to waste. It also means fewer resources are used – both natural resources and energy – helping you to create an eco-friendly kitchen.

Source reclaimed materials for your kitchen from specialist dealers, salvage yards or kitchen companies giving old things a new purpose. Note that reclaimed doesn’t necessarily mean ‘rustic’ – companies like the Used Kitchen Exchange and The Used Kitchen Company buy high quality cabinetry and worktops from owners replacing their kitchens and re-sell them at discounted rates, meaning you can get a higher spec kitchen for your money.

If you’re ripping out your kitchen, think about offering it to one of these companies, or list locally, donate it to a charity or give it away on Freecycle.

kitchen made from reclaimed pine boards

Kitchen cabinets made from salvaged pine boards by Mark Lewis Interior Design

2. Buy secondhand

Similarly, ex-showroom display and used high-end kitchens are available from companies that specialise in sourcing quality second-hand furniture and fittings. Where possible, go and see the kitchen before buying, and opt for a dismantling service and professional fitting.

The Used Kitchen Company sells ex-display and secondhand kitchens

Ex-display Schuller kitchen with breakfast bar, worksurfaces and appliances, £10,000, from The Used Kitchen Company

3. Recycled content

Recycling is key in minimising the amount of material sent to landfill, but virgin materials also use more energy to manufacture than recycled ones. Companies across the homes and interiors spectrum have dedicated ranges for the eco-conscious, from cabinetry and flooring to lighting and tiles – and some brands are entirely dedicated to recyclable materials.

Look for composite worksurfaces and cabinet fronts formulated with recycled content, but also check that the materials are recyclable at the end of their life.

Many stainless-steel sinks are made from recycled materials and are fully recyclable at the end of their life (check out and Similarly bronze or copper designs are very durable and can be recycled. The latest quartz composite from Schock uses 99% natural, renewable and recycled materials.

cabinets made from sustainable plywood with green walls and plants by The Main Company

The Main Company, known for crafting beautiful kitchens from salvaged and reclaimed materials, also creates new designs from plywood