Sustainable kitchen design: every little helps
By Gary Baker
Sustainable design isn’t a new thing, but it is becoming a more important part of all of our lives as resources become scant and new materials are pioneered in the kitchen.
Sustainability isn’t just about how materials are produced or where they come from, it’s also about the lifecycle of your products, how far they travel to your door and how they can benefit those involved in their production as well as maybe your bank balance. With this more holistic view in mind, we’ve produced our top tips for helping those that want to consider the planet as well as the style in their home.
One of the main considerations when choosing a more sustainable kitchen is the material it’s going to be made from. Wood is often thought of as the most sustainable material, but even with sealing it’s susceptible to heat and water damage which means you may end up replacing it a lot more often than other materials and upping your consumption in the process. If you like the look of wood then bamboo is the best option as it’s stronger and harder than most woods and it’s a rapidly renewable resource. Be careful to find out where this is sourced however, as most bamboo is flown in from China which in turns raises its carbon footprint.
Another more eco-friendly option is Corian, which has zero landfill status and is highly durable. DuPont, the makers of Corian, use scraps and sanding from its production to make other Corian products to ensure that its impact on the environment is as minimal as possible. Scratches can be easily sanded out of Corian and its naturally nonporous qualities mean it won’t stain or fade easily so it has a longer lifecycle. Although perfect for worktops, you can also get Corian sinks and doors too.
There are a number of recycled glass worktop products, though these often need to be protected when chopping and preparing food as they can scratch easily. Another product to consider is stainless steel which is made of around 60% recycled content and is hygienic enough for the majority of commercial kitchens. Although it also has an excellent lifespan, it may have a very limited appeal for a whole worktop in a comfy home setting, but stainless steel sinks are still a great option.
Responsible kitchen accessories
There are countless home gadgets and gimmicks claiming to be ecofriendly, but there are some very simple decisions you can make that will help your kitchen help the environment as well as local trade.
Reclaimed wood is perfect for chopping boards, coasters and shelving and can be bought from local reclamation yards from just £5 per piece. Be careful to seal reclaimed wood to protect it for a longer life, but if you happen to be in the right place at the right time you can find some vintage gems that will add real character to your kitchen.
Fairtrade kitchenware is readily available online and can add something a bit more special to your kitchen as well as making sure that those that produce accessories for your home are getting a fair deal. Oxfam, Traidcraft and Shared Earth offer specialist cookware as well as recycled glasses, utensils and crockery at extremely reasonable prices they also make excellent gifts for others!
If you’re looking for something a bit more bespoke, another inventive use of recycled materials is the Cena Collection set of utensils from young UK designer Jamie Mansfield. The handles can be made from scraps of Corian from your own kitchen worktops to produce a complementing yet unique set of tools to cook and serve with. The set can be easily hung from the wall to make a real statement too.
A new kitchen design doesn’t always mean a brand new kitchen. Simply changing certain aspects or the layout of your kitchen can give it a great new look while making sure you reuse materials as responsibly as possible. Most local kitchen designers are happy to reuse existing features at your request and simply adding new worktops or doors can quickly revamp your kitchen.
Manchester based kitchen designer Diane Berry is a perfect example:
“I’ve been selling kitchens for 32 years and I have even won business by reworking the client’s old Corian worktops: changing the design of their room completely by taking the tops out, cutting them up and remaking them into the new design. Cost effective for the client and very green-friendly too.”
You can also source elements of your kitchen from other people’s kitchens. Check out your local Gumtree or Freecycle listings for doors, drawer fronts and panels that might fit in perfectly with your new design especially if you’re after a more vintage look. And don’t forget that if you are ripping out and starting again, you might want to offer those assets on these sites for other people to use and enjoy lots of community centres and facilities look for the resources they need this way and will be happy to take them off your hands.