Being the heart of the home, the kitchen is easily the most used room in a space. It isn’t only for cooking and eating, but for entertaining, and at times, for working, too. As such, the kitchen arguably leaves the most environmental impact out of all the rooms in our abodes.
Our daily food scraps alone already add up to the tons of food waste collected by the earth every day. Mingled with our high water and fuel consumption, then our homes are far from being sustainable, much less eco-friendly.
But why exactly is the environment so sensitive to our kitchens? To answer that, let’s walk through the environmental effects of each kitchen feature.
If you don’t use a dishwasher, you’re definitely consuming more water than necessary. But not all dishwashers guarantee a more efficient water usage, either. Thus, when shopping for one, look at how much water is consumed per rack. Energy Star places a limit of 0.89 gallons per rack, so anything above that point is inefficient.
American households typically use liquid propane gas (LPG). This type provides up to a little over two times more energy than natural gas, meaning less is needed to make it function. As such, LP is regarded as “green fuel.” It isn’t toxic to the environment as well, unlike natural gas that emits greenhouse gases.
The refrigerant type is the key to finding out if a fridge is eco-friendly. Steer clear of the CFC (chlorofluorocarbons) refrigerant, as it expels pollutants in the ozone. Opt for an HFC (hydrofluorocarbons), instead, a less-damaging type that helps lower CO2 emissions, especially in hot climates.
The environmental impact of your cookware depends more on how you cook than the tools you use. If you put a small pan on a large burner, you’re wasting heat, and therefore hurt the environment. The effect of this practice is far-reaching; according to the U.S. Department of Energy, a 2-inch difference between a pan and burner size already wastes as high as 40% heat.
In a conventional oven, the food is cooked by radiating heat from the top and bottom of the box. This is unlike a convection oven when it circulates hot air around the food. Out of the two, the convection oven is the more sustainable type, because it cooks the food quicker and more evenly with less energy.
Without a doubt, most of us prefer a natural stone countertop more than anything else. But they’re not the most eco-friendly. Granite and marble, in particular, are quarried, so they require a lot of energy. Transporting them is also costly since they’re only available in certain locations.
Fortunately, a good alternative exists. Quartz or granite quartz countertop is more sustainable, because the crystal is widespread, forming on all types of rocks anywhere in the world. In fact, it is the second most abundant mineral on earth. As such, it doesn’t require the same amount of quarrying and energy as natural granite and marble.
Man-made quartz slabs are also available, and they’re actually more common. They’re famed for their extreme durability, anti-bacterial properties, and easy maintenance. They don’t need sealing because they’re non-porous.
Other green countertop options include laminate (Greenguard-certified), solid surface, and stainless steel. However, the mined components of stainless steel can harm the environment, though they also often come with considerable recycled content, making them a decent sustainable choice.
Now that you’ve been guided on the environmental impacts of your kitchen, you can make smarter choices now when you build or remodel. Each of your movement counts; never waste anything when using your appliances.