With global warming on the lips of many people nowadays, and the effects of climate change becoming more evident, people are looking for ways in which they can minimize their carbon footprint.
When it comes to transport, people are starting to switch over to electric cars. More families are turning towards alternative forms of energy to power their homes. Even the architecture of houses is beginning to change to make them more energy-efficient. One area of the house that has begun to receive more attention, though is the kitchen.
Typically, the kitchen is where most of the house’s energy is consumed, which is why there is such an emphasis on creating sustainable kitchens in modern homes. Here we are going to look at what a sustainable kitchen is and how you can change things up to make your kitchen more sustainable.
What is a sustainable kitchen?
In short, the most sustainable kitchen is the one that uses the least amount of energy and encourages green living. It goes beyond just using energy-efficient appliances to cut your utility bills. It includes using building materials that has a smaller carbon footprint when the kitchen is constructed as well as producing your own produce from your windowsill planters.
When you bought your home a couple of years ago, it was fitted with the appliances of the day and its design was only based on aesthetics and not necessarily functionality. In the sustainable kitchen, less is more and the design is the start of everything.
Every nook and cranny of the space that you have available is used optimally to reduce the area where energy is needed. Not only that, but smaller spaces require less building material.
Clever design principles will help the would-be sustainable renovator to maximize the usable surface area and provide ample storage space for the new appliances.
Where to start your sustainable kitchen
The one thing that renovators need to remember is that turning your kitchen into a sustainable does not mean cheaper at first.
Sure, you will be able to save on your utility and grocery bills over a period of time, but it is an investment that will show slow returns. Although the aim is to save money, the bigger goal is to create a lifestyle that encourages a smaller carbon footprint.
The design process is probably the most important aspect of the renovation and careful planning is needed to ensure that you get the most bang for your buck. The main aspect that you need to take into consideration is the size of your kitchen. A smart layout will help you install the maximum number of cupboards and countertops to provide you with the comfortable workspace.
The next aspect that you want to take into consideration is aesthetics. Everyone loves a beautiful kitchen, but when it is functional as well, then you enter a whole other level of envy. Therefore, you need to plan for timeless elegance.
It would serve you well if you stay away from trends and rather look at classic styles that you find appealing. Together with the style that you choose, you need to use materials that will last.
Consider your lighting
Lighting is one of the most important aspects that can make or break a sustainable kitchen. It doesn’t help you much if you have a super high-tech kitchen, but you need to have the lights on during the day to get anything done. Natural light is the key and the placing of your windows and skylights will reduce your need for artificial light.
Not only does clever window placing help with the lighting issues, but it will also double up as a natural ventilator and improve the air quality in your kitchen. South-facing skylights also provide you with the ideal conditions for passive heating, but will allow sometimes allow unwanted heat during the summer months.
To overcome this obstacle, place some shaders over the lights to curb the unwanted heat. If at all possible, place your windows at right angles to each other to create a draft in summer for an extra cooling effect.
Obviously, when you choose your lighting itself, you should opt for LED lights. Not only do they last longer than conventional globes, but they also use a fraction of the energy for the same amount of light.
Turning to the consumables
When you walk into a grocery store, the one aisle that breaks the bank is the cleaning aisle. Going green in your consumable cleaning supplies is one of the best ways to save not only money, but also the environment.
Not too long ago, natural or biodegradable cleaning materials were much more expensive than traditional materials like sponges and cleaning cloths. Nowadays, you can buy some amazing products from Amazon to replace your traditional cleaning supplies.
You never have to buy a single plastic utensil ever again as bamboo is taking over. Bamboo is a durable, fast-growing plant that has much more potential than just being used for a digeridoo.
Bamboo cutting boards are extremely durable and not very porous either. They display much nicer than those thick plastic boards that stain the first time you cut a beetroot on it.
When you are a baker, you will know that baking sheets can rack up a couple of bucks in no time. Switching to reusable baking mats will cut those costs in no time. These mats are typically made from silicone and only need to be wiped, instead of being scrubbed in a basin.
Speaking of water, your taps can also be changed to water-reducing taps. When it comes to washing your hands, you can install a mist tap as it really doesn’t take so much water to clean your hands.
Rethink your trash
The kitchen is responsible for most of the waste in your home, so it makes sense to try and reduce it to the minimum. Besides becoming more recycle-conscious, the food scraps that you throw away every day is gold for your new kitchen garden.
The peels of your vegetable cuttings and the shells of your eggs and even the grounds from your coffee machine are all packed with nutrients that you can compost on your own.
You don’t even have to create a special area in your yard, far away from the kitchen, to keep the smell away. Today, you can get a special indoor box to discard your food waste in that does not let the odor of the decomposing waste escape.
Starting your garden
You don’t need a lot of space to produce enough food for your family. Square foot gardening is the answer to your agricultural needs. Not only do they provide you with enough food, but it also doesn’t take up as much space either.
There are a number of guides that you get online to help you with the layout of your garden patch. The number one rule, though, is that your garden needs to be in view. As soon as it moves out of sight, you easily forget about it and then you might forget to water your plants.
If your space is even more limited, then a windowsill planter is the next best thing. Most edible garden plants need only 6 hours of daylight to grow. If you don’t have a spot where there is sufficient light, then you can install a grow light to supplement the light.
One thing that many people don’t know is that foods like lettuce, celery, ginger, potatoes, bean sprouts, garlic, and onions can be grown from kitchen scraps. If you play your cards right, you never have to buy any of those items again.
Don’t buy too much
It has happened to all of us, you had an amazing dinner and stored the leftovers to have in the morning. One thing leads to another and you completely forget about it and when you remember about the food again, it has already grown a healthy amount of mold.
If you have a decent system in place, you can drastically cut your wastage down. It is going to take some time to get into the swing of things, but you could start a dating system where your older products are placed in front of your fridge to use first.
Although it seems tempting to buy in bulk, you always end up throwing away a good portion of the food you bought. If you don’t have your garden set up just yet, do your shopping weekly and plan your meals ahead of time. Working from a menu will prevent you from buying on impulse.
When it comes to your fresh produce, go to your local fresh food market and only buy fresh food that is in season. You will save ample money and it will bring variety to your meals.
These markets are also advocates for sustainability as the crops are locally produced and isn’t transported over miles. This means that the total production costs are reduced dramatically and you end up doing your bit for the environment.