For many people, leading a sustainable lifestyle is a top priority. But if you have an older home, you may find it more difficult to embrace a green lifestyle. That said, 61% of homeowners who have lived in their current homes for more than six years will choose to renovate rather than move. What’s more, you may not have to sign up for an expansive renovation to make your home more eco-friendly.
Let’s start in one of the most popular rooms: the kitchen. You probably rely on your appliances to store and cook most of your meals — and upgrading those appliances may allow you to save energy (and money). But that’s not the only way to achieve a more eco-conscious kitchen.
Here are just a few other steps to take if you want to protect the planet with small changes in this space.
Start a Compost Pile
Food waste is a huge problem in the U.S., as it represents 30% to 40% of the entire food supply. In 2010, 133 billion pounds of food (worth $161 billion) were wasted, according to the USDA. But you can offset some of that food waste in your own home by being careful about how much you buy, planning out your meals, and composting what you’d normally throw away.
Fruit and veggie scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, and yard debris can all be composted to create a natural fertilizer that can keep your garden looking gorgeous. In your kitchen keep a countertop compost container that you can transfer to your backyard compost tumbler for an easy and effective composting system.
Use Tote Bags for Groceries
This is a simple way to benefit the environment. Buy several sturdy canvas bags with handles and keep them in your car for trips to the grocery store. Get into the habit of bringing them inside the store.
After you unload the groceries at home, take the bags back out immediately to the car so that they’re not left behind on your next shopping trip.
To make bringing groceries in even easier try skipping the bags and loading everything into laundry baskets in your trunk. We keep two baskets handy to put cold in one and pantry in the other. Then we just need to worry about the cold basket.
Use eco-friendly kitchen cleaning products
When it comes to how you care for your home choosing eco-friendly products matters. Choosing eco-friendly cleaning supplies for your kitchen can help keep things clean and tidy without adding to your carbon footprint. Check out Grove.co for great deals on eco-friendly kitchen cleaning products.
Eliminate Toxic Chemicals
Each year, more than 1.57 billion gallons of paint are sold in the United States. But many of those paints contain harsh chemicals, known as VOCs, that can be damaging to one’s health and to the earth.
If you’re giving your kitchen a new paint job, be sure to choose a product that contains zero VOCs. And whenever you clean that kitchen — which should be frequently, as your kitchen is one of the dirtiest places in your home — you should use products that are non-toxic.
There are plenty of natural and effective cleaning agents on the market, but you can also make your own out of some basic elements. Not only will you be doing your part to save the environment, but you’ll also ensure your family will stay safe.
Select utensils, pots and pans, baking dishes, and other items that won’t wear out quickly and need to be replaced. Specifically, avoid products containing Teflon, as this material doesn’t last long.
Similarly, look for durable utensils. For instance, inexpensive wooden spoons are vulnerable to rot and plastic spatulas will melt if left too long in a hot pan.
Choose good knives that can be hand-sharpened, of course. You can also replace paper towels with cloth ones that can be used again and again.
You may like experimenting in the kitchen, but beware of investing in items you may not use over the long haul. Some communities have kitchen libraries that allow you to test tools and appliances and avoid contributing unwanted items to the landfill.
Get a Faucet Upgrade
Getting a new fridge or stove is a big investment. But most people can afford to upgrade their faucet — and there may be a good reason to do so. If your faucet is older, it probably isn’t a low-flow model.
That means you might be wasting quite a bit of water. But according to the EPA, installing a WaterSense faucet (or even a faucet aerator) could save you quite a bit of money. You should also take this time to ensure your kitchen faucet isn’t leaking, as fixing that problem could save both money and water. It might also benefit you to outfit your faucet with a tap filter.
Although only 1% of the planet’s water is suitable for drinking, installing a filter right on your faucet can eliminate the need for bottled water or a bulky jug in your fridge. That’ll end up saving you time and money while you eliminate single-use plastic.
Switch How You Brew
If you like to start off your morning with a cup of coffee, you might want to take a closer look at how you get your caffeine. Relying on a Keurig machine might be handy, but those K-Cups are bad for the environment. For an even better coffee maker option try using a french press.
You might want to switch to a traditional pot brew with a mesh coffee filter or start using reusable, stainless steel K-Cups. Be sure not to use disposable coffee cups and lids at home; while they might be a pain to wash, reusable mugs are much more environmentally friendly.
Consider Electric Instead of Gas
Ultra-pure gases (which have purities of 99.995% and above) can be found in a wide range of industries and applications. But many homeowners are more familiar with gas-powered appliances, including stoves. It may surprise you to learn that using electricity for appliances is actually the greener option.
The most energy-efficient electric-powered stoves feature induction elements, which allow the stove to utilize electromagnetic energy and spend half as much energy as stoves with typical coil burners.
Electric stoves are also a healthier choice than stoves powered by gas, which may send 25% to 39% more nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide into the air of your home.
Choose Natural Flooring Options
Cork is a natural type of flooring material that comes without the toxins often found in manufactured materials. Cork costs about the same as wood, but it’s a sustainable option. Cork trees regrow every nine years, as opposed to trees such as maple or oak that take decades to replace. Bamboo is another sustainable flooring option that appeals to many homeowners. Either of these can look beautiful in the kitchen or elsewhere throughout the home.
Reface Cabinets When Possible
In the U.S., construction revenue totaled $1.3 trillion in 2018. But there are eco-friendly alternatives to remodeling your entire kitchen. Refacing cabinetry will nearly always produce the same results as custom building cabinets, but refacing utilizes less wood than the amount taken from one tree.
Once reinforced during refacing, the frames on your current cabinets will be more durable. You’ll also cut down on remodeling costs, as custom design costs more than twice as much as refacing.
Consider Quartz or Corian for Countertops
Granite is less sustainable than either quartz or Corian. Mining for granite has a greater environmental impact than the production of Corian and quartz. These alternatives to granite are very simple to maintain, don’t need toxic sealants, and will endure for decades without damage. Ultimately, that will save you money while protecting the planet.
Cook With Energy Efficiency in Mind
Modern ovens meet required temperatures so quickly that most preheating isn’t necessary. If you’re baking or roasting a dish or dessert that doesn’t need an exact cooking time, you can place it in the oven before it’s heated, switch off the oven five to 10 minutes early, and allow the cooking to be completed in the residual heat. The same goes for items prepared on an electric stove. It’s also a good idea to make efficient use of the whole oven, such as by cooking more than one dish at the same time. When it comes to smaller dishes, you’ll save energy if you use a toaster oven, Air fryer, or microwave. On the stovetop, make sure you’re using pots that fit the burners; when the burner is wider than the pot, much of the burner’s heat is wasted.
Hire a Contractor Who Offers Eco-Friendly Options
If you do decide to remodel your kitchen, find a professional who is well-versed in the greener choices available in home construction. You’ll cut down on costs and time if your contractor is already familiar with the non-toxic, eco-friendly kitchen features you want. Meet with a number of contractors face to face before you hire anyone and check online reviews to find out about their reputations.
Creating a greener kitchen might sound like a huge undertaking, but it’s actually much simpler than you’d think. These days, many homeowners are looking for energy-efficient, sustainable options. We can choose greener materials for our kitchens without sacrificing functionality or breaking our budgets.