Green kitchen updates are the latest trend for creating an environmentally friendly, sustainable kitchen space. With concerns about climate change and reducing waste growing, many homeowners are looking for ways to “green” their kitchens with eco-friendly designs, appliances, materials and practices. Investing in green kitchen updates can help reduce your carbon footprint, save money on utility bills, and create a healthier indoor environment.
Benefits of a Green Kitchen
Updating your kitchen with green features has many benefits beyond helping the environment. Here are some of the top reasons to consider green kitchen updates:
By opting for sustainable materials, energy-efficient appliances, and eco-friendly practices, you can reduce your kitchen’s carbon footprint. Green kitchen updates like recycling, composting, and using renewable resources allow you to contribute less waste to landfills.
Saves Energy and Water
Energy-efficient appliances, proper insulation, and water-conserving fixtures drastically cut down on utility bills. The savings start to add up over time, so green updates can pay for themselves.
Improves Indoor Air Quality
Many conventional building materials and furnishings emit harmful VOCs and other chemicals. Green kitchen updates minimize this allowing for better indoor air quality. Proper ventilation is key.
Creates a Non-Toxic Environment
Choosing non-toxic, natural materials avoids exposure to harmful chemicals found in some traditional kitchen products. This is especially important for families with small children.
Enhances Health and Well-Being
Eco-friendly kitchen updates promote health through better indoor air quality, reduced mold and mildew issues, and a space free of hazardous contaminants.
Green Kitchen Flooring Options
The flooring is a significant green upgrade that can improve both the function and look of your kitchen. There are now many sustainable and eco-friendly flooring options ideal for kitchen spaces.
Bamboo is one of the most renewable resources. Bamboo floors have a stylish look similar to hardwood but with more durability and moisture resistance. Bamboo is also easy to clean.
Cork oak trees are not cut down for harvest. The bark regenerates itself and is harvested every 9 years without damage to the trees. Cork resists mold, mildew and pests and is comfortable underfoot.
Recycled Glass Tile
Tiles made from recycled glass are an innovative green flooring material. Available in a wide range of colors, sizes and styles, the glass tiles are durable and easy to clean.
Natural Linoleum Floors
Linoleum is made from all-natural materials including linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, limestone, and jute. Modern linoleum is durable, water-resistant, and available in many colors and patterns.
Reclaimed Wood Planks
Wood flooring from reclaimed sources gives new life to old barn boards, railway ties, wine barrels, and other salvaged wood. This saves trees and avoids landfill waste.
Concrete can be polished, etched, or stained in many different looks. This is an extremely durable green flooring option. Concrete also easily absorbs and retains heat.
Tile Floors from Recycled Materials
Ceramic and porcelain tiles with recycled glass or other materials content are an eco-friendly choice. Tiles are very durable and naturally moisture resistant.
Energy Efficient Appliances
Major kitchen appliances account for a significant portion of home energy use. Upgrading to the latest energy-efficient models can realize major savings on utility bills.
Look for Energy Star rated refrigerators with high-efficiency compressors. Choosing the right size model and replacing older units leads to the most savings.
Buy dishwashers that meet Energy Star criteria including less water usage and reduced energy in drying cycles. Look for short wash cycles.
Stoves and Ovens
Convection ovens, induction cooktops, sealed burners, and multi-rack ovens all provide more energy-efficient cooking.
Microwave ovens use much less energy than conventional cooking. Choose Energy Star rated models with eco setting options.
Effective venting gets rid of emissions, moisture, and odors from cooking while improving indoor air quality. Look for high-CFM fans with sealed ducting.
For laundry spaces, choose front-loading high-efficiency washing machines which use much less water and energy. Look for short wash cycles.
Tankless water heaters only heat water on demand so they are very energy efficient. Heat pump water heaters are also efficient options.
Smart kitchen appliances can monitor usage and maximize efficiency. Look for models with apps to control settings and features remotely.
Countertops see a lot of use daily, so choosing eco-friendly green options is an important kitchen upgrade. Popular options include:
Recycled Glass Countertops
Countertops can be made from 100% recycled glass in many colors and styles. The glass is non-porous for easy cleaning and maintenance.
Concrete provides a durable, heat resistant, and easily maintained countertop. Concrete styles include polished, stained, or quartz-finished.
Bamboo Butcher Block
Butcher block from bamboo is resistant to water damage, antimicrobial, and compostable at end of life. It must be properly sealed and maintained.
Salvaged wood from old barns, fencing, or decking can be milled into beautiful and unique countertops. Each has its own history.
Soapstone is quarried in slabs. It is stain resistant, easy to clean, and heats up slowly retaining heat. Soapstone develops a patina over time.
Recycled Paper Countertops
Paper composite countertops contain recycled paper, resins, and other materials. They offer cool modern styles and are durable and repairable.
Tile from Recycled Glass or Porcelain
Tile made from recycled glass or porcelain is an eco-friendly countertop option. Tiles come in a limitless array of styles and color combinations.
Green Cabinets and Shelving
Cabinetry and shelving should also be considered for green upgrades. Avoiding VOCs and formaldehyde-containing materials improves indoor air quality.
Bamboo grows rapidly and is highly sustainable. Bamboo cabinets provide a modern, warm look. Stains come in various shades.
Recycled Metal Shelves
Various recycled metals can be used to create shelves with an industrial vibe. Metals include recycled aluminum and galvanized steel.
Salvaged Wood Cabinets
Using reclaimed wood from old barns, fencing, wine barrels or other sources gives cabinets a rustic, authentic look with character.
Beetle Kill Pine Cabinets
Beetle kill pine is lumber from trees killed by pine beetles. Using this salvaged wood prevents rotting and waste. It has a unique blue stain.
Recycled Glass Shelves
Shelving units with glass recycled from bottles can add a colorful, eco-friendly accent. The glass shelves are easy to clean.
Bamboo Plywood Construction
Bamboo plywood made from strands woven together creates very durable shelving and cabinet boxes. No glues or VOCs are used.
Cork Shelves and Boards
Cork is naturally antimicrobial and sound dampening. Cork shelves help reduce indoor noise and provide gentle storage for glassware.
Eco-Friendly Countertop Accessories
Smaller accessories like cutting boards, trays, and bread boxes can also be eco-upgraded for a completely green kitchen.
Recycled Aluminum Trays
Sturdy, lightweight aluminum trays are often made from recycled aluminum. These are handy for serving foods or holding small appliances.
Compost Bin from recycled plastic
An attractive compost bin is essential for collecting organic waste to create nutrient-rich compost for gardening
Sleek Metal Compost Pail
A countertop compost pail provides convenient, odor-free collection of food scraps to transfer to the main compost bin.
Bamboo Dish Drying Rack
Bamboo is naturally antimicrobial so it makes an ideal sanitary and sustainable dish drying rack.
Reusable Beeswax Food Wraps
Replace plastic wrap with reusable food wraps made from washable organic cotton and beeswax. These can be composted after use.
Hemp Bread Bags and Storage Bags
Hemp bags allow for plastic-free storage of breads, vegetables, and pantry goods. Hemp is organic and biodegradable.
Ornamental Cutting Boards
Eco-friendly bamboo or recycled wood boards can provide a handsome accent while chopping veggies.
Vintage Pieces as Decor
Repurposed vintage or antique pottery, glassware and tins add character and avoid waste. Seek unique pieces at estate sales or thrift stores.
Eco-Friendly Kitchen Backsplashes
Kitchen backsplashes take some abuse, so durable green materials are ideal. There are many attractive options available:
Recycled Glass Tile
Backsplashes make an ideal application for recycled glass tile. The tile can be made in any color and illuminates the space.
Reclaimed Wood Panels
Salvaged wood sliced into panels makes for a rustic, natural backsplash look. Various finish options are available.
Etched Recycled Glass Sheets
Large sheets of etched and enameled recycled glass can be cut into customized panels for a sleek look.
Bamboo veneer panels give a pleasant, eco-friendly accent above countertops. Bamboo can also be arranged in geometric patterns.
Recycled Metal Mesh
Perforated metal mesh sheets made from recycled aluminum create unique backsplashes and require low maintenance.
Concrete Backsplash Panels
Concrete backsplashes can match concrete countertops or have independent colors and patterns applied.
Natural Stone Tile
Sustainably-sources natural stone like granite, slate, travertine or limestone make long-wearing backsplash tiles.
Eco-Friendly Kitchen Lighting
Energy efficient LED lighting accents the kitchen in stylish and sustainable ways. Smart options provide convenience and automation.
LED Under Cabinet Lighting
LED strips and pucks under cabinets provide task lighting where needed. New slim styles have minimal visual impact.
Artistic Pendant Lights
Pendant lights over islands and bars create ambiance and come in artful, eco-conscious designs. Look for renewable, recycled or natural materials.
Strategically placed windows, skylights, and sun tunnels maximize use of natural daylight to minimize energy use.
Motion Sensor Switches
Motion-activated light switches avoid wasting energy by turning lights on only when needed. Place by pantry and closets.
Dimmer switches allow modulating light levels to suit activities and moods. This extends bulb life and saves energy.
Outdoor LED Lighting
For patios and outdoor kitchens, use solar-powered pathway lights and waterproof outdoor LED fixtures to reduce energy consumption.
Smart Lighting Technology
Smart bulbs with wireless controls allow programming lighting scenes and schedules. Integrate these with a smart home ecosystem.
Green Kitchen Paint Colors
Eco-friendly low or no-VOC kitchen paints come in beautiful colors to give your sustainable kitchen personality. Some popular hues include:
Invigorating light greens like mint, pale sage, or sea glass create a relaxing atmosphere. These colors pair well with natural wood tones.
Eco-friendly paints in warmer beige, tan, cream, and brown are versatile. They allow other accessories to stand out.
Deep ocean blues and bright teals and turquoises lend an aquatic vibe. These colors stimulate the appetite.
Mustard yellow or golden tones infuse the space with light and energy. Yellow pairs well with gray cabinets or dark countertops.
Linen, straw, bamboo and other organic hues blend seamlessly into natural material palette. Avoid a stark look.
Cool, misty grays create a soothing backdrop. Layer in metallics and textures for accents of color.
From cherry red to aged brick, red hues provide a sophisticated, inviting look. Reds pair nicely with stainless steel.
Green Kitchen Cabinets
Kitchen cabinets see a lot of wear and tear. Choosing eco-friendly cabinets keeps this large kitchen element sustainable.
Salvaged Wood Cabinets
Giving old wood new life is the epitome of sustainability. Salvaged wood cabinets have patinas of age and history.
Bamboo grows extremely quickly so it’s highly renewable. Bamboo cabinetry has sleek lines and comes in various stains.
Recycled Metal Cabinets
Metal cabinets like stainless steel or powder coated metal provide extreme durability with high recycled content.
Beetle Kill Pine Cabinets
Beetle kill pine has a unique look with turquoise-blue tinting from pine beetle damage. Using this wood prevents rotting.
Cabinets with modular design allow changing only certain sections as needed instead of whole kitchen. This reduces waste.
Recycled Paperboard Cabinets
Eco-friendly paperboard made of recycled materials resists moisture and can replace standard MDF cabinet boxes and finishes.
Natural Plant Based Finishes
Plant-based stains and finishes avoid off-gassing VOCs. Oils from seeds, beans and oranges provide natural protection.
Creating a Zero-Waste Kitchen
With some smart strategies, you can design an environmentally-friendly kitchen that cuts down on waste going to landfills.
Compost Food Waste
Compost all leftover fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds and suitable leftovers rather than sending to landfills. Use compost for gardening.
Recycle Appliances and Fixtures
Many metal or plastic appliances, cabinets, sinks and fixtures can be recycled instead of discarded during kitchen remodels.
Donate Usable Items
Cabinets, lighting fixtures, plumbing and hardware in good shape can be donated to Habitat for Humanity or other organizations for reuse instead of tossing.
Use Recycled Materials
Choose recycled glass tile, metal, paper countertops, reclaimed wood, and even recycled plastic hairpin legs for tables.
Purchase Furnishings Made from Recycled Materials
Tables, stools and decorative items made from reclaimed wood, recycled rubber or plastic avoid waste. Look for used items or eco-friendly brands.
Install Built-In Recycling Bins
Include bins for recyclables like cans, bottles, paper and plastics right in cabinetry for easy access.
Use Non-Toxic Cleaning Products
Replace toxic cleaners with safe green products and reusable rags or microfiber cloths. This avoids plastic waste too.
Buy Bulk Foods to Reduce Packaging
Shop bulk bins for foods like flour, nuts, grains, and snacks to avoid excess packaging waste. Bring reusable bags.
Green Kitchen Islands
Islands are a popular feature in today’s kitchens. There are many great options for eco-friendly islands:
Reclaimed Wood Island
A large salvaged wood dining island is a real showpiece. Choose a reclaimed wood that contrasts with cabinetry.
Concrete islands can match other concrete accents or have colors and finishes applied. Concrete is indestructible.
Recycled Rubber Top Island
For kid-friendly durability, try a solid surface made of recycled rubber tires. This material needs minimal maintenance.
A bamboo top or entire island provides a sleek look. Bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, so ideal for food prep.
Soapstone Island Top
The smooth finish and heat retention of soapstone suits islands. It develops character over time.
Walnut Butcher Block Island
Walnut stains beautifully and the end grain creates a checkerboard pattern. It must be regularly oiled.
Recycled Glass Tile Island
Colorful recycled glass tile provides a change of texture and reflects light beautifully around an island.
Sustainable Kitchen Sinks
Kitchen sinks take abuse on a daily basis. Pick a durable, water-efficient model when greening your kitchen upgrades.
Stainless Steel Recycled Content Sink
Many steel sinks contain recycled content. Undermount, apron-front, and farmhouse style stainless sinks are available.
Cast Iron Enameled Sink
Cast iron coated in enamel resists stains, heat, scratches and dents. This traditional style is extremely durable.
Composite Granite Sink
Composite granite sinks blend crushed recycled glass or other materials for durability and sound-dampening.
Copper sinks acquire a unique patina over time. Copper has natural antimicrobial properties.
Porcelain Ceramic Sink
Vitreous china ceramic sinks with recycled content have glossy finishes that maintain their shine. These clean up easily.
Look for WaterSense labeled faucets and aerators that conserve water. Touch-free faucets are also available.
Soapstone is a highly durable natural material perfect for sinks. It is non-porous and stain resistant.
Creating a Green Kitchen Pantry
Stocking the pantry with healthy, eco-friendly foods and supplies contributes to sustainability. Here are some tips:
Use Glass Storage Containers
Glass jars, containers, and bottles can store dry goods while avoiding plastic waste and BPA risks.