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Remodeling Your Kitchen The Sustainable Materials Way

If you are considering a kitchen remodel, why not take the opportunity to go green? Many green products use less energy and outlast other similar products. However, in some instances, they also cost more. Thankfully, an ever-expanding market for stylish and smart green products has pushed the costs down, making it easier and cheaper to create a green kitchen.

Sustainable kitchen cabinets
These types of kitchen cabinets are produced using sustainable forest management practices, which are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. In addition, they boast formaldehyde-free finishes and glue with low volatile organic compounds that gives off little to no toxic fumes.

When it comes time to select cabinet styles, ask for cabinets that are built with straw or wheat board. These products are made using agricultural waste such as left over chaff from farmers’ wheat crops. In most cases, they contain formaldehyde-free binders. However, they still meet the standards of strength set by the American National Standards Institute for medium density particle board, which is the material most often used to construct cabinet boxes.

Sustainable countertops
Green countertops come in many varieties but share similar characteristics. The similarities typically consist of low-toxicity binders, sustainable or recycled content and an Eco-friendly manufacturing process. Squak Mountain Stone is constructed of recycled glass, cement, recycled paper and reclaimed fly ash. The finished countertop looks similar to soapstone or limestone. Eco-top counters are made using water-based resin glue, post-consumer recycled paper and renewable bamboo fiber. Vetrazzo countertops are constructed using 85 percent glass, which typically comes from curbside recycling programs. Craft-Art features a line of wood countertops containing reclaimed wood from old barns, commercial buildings or warehouses.

Eco-conscious flooring
When it comes to going green with your flooring, your Eco-conscious options include cork and linoleum. Both varieties are constructed using renewable resources, and they are durable and attractive. Unfortunately, they do require some maintenance periodically.

Linoleum is constructed from biodegradable, renewable materials including cork and linseed oil. This flooring does not produce harmful vapors. However, it does come in various colors and patterns. Linoleum also handles heavy traffic well and offers some cushioning underfoot. Moreover, it is resistant to moisture. Unfortunately, it is somewhat susceptible to staining, which is why some manufactures add a protective coating to protect against scratches and spills.

Cork is made from tree bark and is a sustainable product as the bark can be harvested and grows back. These practices are regulated carefully to ensure future supply, reducing any negative environmental impact. Cork is soft underfoot and waterproof, which means it’s both comfortable and moisture-resistant. Moreover, the surface is slip-resistant due to its slight texture. It is smart to treat cork flooring every three to four years to stop moisture from penetrating seams and prevent scratches.

Choosing Energy Star products for your new kitchen will mean a savings in utility costs due to a reduction in energy consumption. Energy Star appliances are rated and tested to be the most energy-efficient models on the market.

Energy-efficient dishwashers save energy by having a quick-wash cycle, which means they operate for a shorter period of time. There are also some dishwashers that have air-dry options. It is estimated that replacing a 1994 dishwasher model with a new Energy Star model will net a savings of $40 a year on energy costs.

Refrigerator manufactures improve their insulating techniques and other aspects of technology constantly. Therefore, today’s models are 75 percent more energy-efficient than those manufactured 20 years ago. This means you will save about $100 on yearly energy costs. Energy Star models will net an additional $20 to $30 of savings per year.

Other ways to make a kitchen greener:

  • Invest in an under-the-counter water purifier: This will clean your water and removes odors and bad taste.
  • Energy-efficient lighting: Replacing old lighting with new energy-efficient models will result in a savings on energy costs.
  • Recycle: Including recycling bins in your kitchen, which will make it easier for your family to recycle.

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