Give your kitchen a green makeover

by Tracy Stokes on July 5, 2007

in EcoHouse


You don’t need to rip out your existing kitchen and start over if you want to give your kitchen a green makeover. There are lots of little changes that you can make to your kitchen to improve its green credentials. In this article we’ll start with the little changes, and work up to a whole new eco-friendly kitchen. So, no matter what your budget is, there’ll be something that you can do.

Every little step makes a difference

Starting small means that you won’t find the process of going green so daunting.

  • Switch to biodegradable cleaning products – Ecover products are readily available at supermarkets. Other products to look out for are Bio-D and Biocare, their Citrus Degreaser is really good on a greasy hob. You can also try good old fashioned methods of cleaning.
  • Stop buying disposable dishcloths – Instead, try buying cotton dishcloths that can be washed and used over and over again. Or try microfibre cloths, that can be used without any cleaning agents.
  • Avoid buying kitchen roll – If you must have it, opt for the recycled variety.
  • Compost – Get yourself a bucket or compost crock and fill it with fruit and vegetable peelings, leftover salads, the contents of your vacuum cleaner, hair from your hairbrush, compostable packaging and small bits of textile made from natural fibres. You can find out how to compost here, and what to compost here.

By making just these few simple changes you will already be protecting the water table and yourself from exposure to dangerous chemicals, saving energy, saving trees from being cut down, and keeping organic waste out of landfill. But there’s no need to stop there, you’re just getting into the swing of things.

Save energy in the kitchen

These are things that you can do in the kitchen that will save energy and money. Incorporating them into your lifestyle as habits will save you ££££s over the years. You’ll never look back.

  • Put a lid on it – Covering your pots and pans while cooking can save lots of energy.
  • Match the pot size to the element you’re cooking on – Small pots on large burners is a waste of energy.
  • Double or triple your quantities and freeze leftovers – This not only means that you save energy, but you’ll have tasty, home-made ready-meals in your freezer, ready to go.
  • Thaw frozen food thoroughly – If you do this before cooking or heating it, you will be saving energy.
  • Make one-pot meals – Stir-fries, stews and crock-pot dinners save energy and washing-up.
  • Use the smallest possible amount of water (or fat) to cook in – This saves having to heat the water as well as the food, but be careful not too add to little water or fat either, or your food may burn.
  • Rearrange oven shelves before switching the oven on – Every time you open the oven door while it is on will lose 20’C and use more energy to heat it up again.
  • Don’t bother to pre-heat the oven for slow cooked dishes – If you are cooking something for an hour or more, like roasts or casseroles, it isn’t necessary to pre-heat the oven. Don’t try this with cakes and breads though.
  • Keep your fridge as full as possible – Make sure it’s not so full that air can’t circulate, or you can’t close the door.
  • Vacuum the refrigerator coil – Getting rid of the dust on the refrigerator coil (behind the fridge) every 3 months or so improves the efficiency of the fridge.
  • Don’t put uncovered liquids into the fridge – Vapours from uncovered liquids add to the compressor workload.
  • Cool food first – Let hot food get to room temperature before putting it into the fridge.
  • Plan ahead – Decide what you want to take out of the fridge before opening the door, so that you don’t have to spend time staring into the fridge, or open the door multiple times. The same goes for packing away the grocery shopping. Get all the chilled items together and put them all in the fridge at the same time.
  • Only switch your dishwasher on when you have a full load – This will save energy and water. Using an efficient dishwasher saves water and energy compared to washing by hand. That’s something worth knowing.
  • Only boil what you need – Boil only the amount of water you need for cups of tea, or if you are replacing a kettle, buy an eco-kettle. I’ve had mine for about 18 months now, and I love it.
  • Use energy-saving light bulbs – Replace light bulbs with compact fluorescents.

Appliances that will help you save energy

If you are replacing an appliance in your kitchen, bear these points in mind and you’ll be able to save energy without any effort at all.

  • Don’t buy a fridge that is too big for your needs.
  • Consider an induction hob – Be aware that you may need new pots and pans to use on it if you don’t already have magnetic bottomed pots.
  • Buy Energy Saving appliances – Always look for the Energy Saving Recommended logo and you can’t go wrong.

Be aware that there is also the A…B…C rating to bear in mind, and that these don’t only relate to energy, but water use also.

Complete kitchen overhaul

Starting from scratch, or taking it back to basics and giving your kitchen a new look means that you can make some fundamental changes to how eco-friendly your kitchen is.

  • Bespoke kitchens – If you want an eco-friendly fitted kitchen, you will need to look at the bespoke option. Making a kitchen out of reclaimed timber is a great way to recycle, and it will be unique to you. Gurniture or Eco Friendly Furnishings both specialise in kitchens made from reclaimed wood. If you don’t feel you have the skill to get too involved with your kitchen design, a design company that specialises in sustainability, like Nonsense Design or eco interiors can shoulder that responsibility for you.
  • Recycled kitchensMilestone Eco Design makes kitchens out of recycled yoghurt pots, vending machine cups and steel.
  • Salvaged kitchens – Buy a salvaged retro kitchen from Salvo! or on eBay. Or find a local architectural salvage depot and have a look at what’s available there.
  • New kitchens – If you are going to be buying your kitchen from a high-street kitchen installer, make sure that you ask the right questions. Find out whether the kitchen’s manufacturer uses wood from sustainable sources. In the UK, look out for the FSC logo on their literature.

The finishing eco-touches

A good finish is essential to make your kitchen look good, and a green finish is essential for your kitchen to be as eco-friendly as it can be.

Great green accessories for your kitchen

Get yourself an eco-kettle, or if you prefer your water filtered, try the plunger filter eco-kettle, both from Nigel’s eco store.

Wear a recycled tomato sauce container apron when you’re pottering about in your newly green kitchen.

Keep your kitchen door open with this very groovy vintage fabric Chicken Doorstop from Love Eco.

Serve your salads with Fairtrade recycled timber salad servers from Green Green Home.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

dave bones February 20, 2009 at 3:59 am

Do you think those recycled glass worktops are any good? In my short experienece they just aren’t fit for purpose. The bits of glass pop out, bits of coffeee and such like pop in.


Liz G August 5, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I bought a recycled glass worktop recently from Bottle Alley Glass in Battle – a beautiful ice green, especially when lit with an LED strip. It is subject to small areas of slight pitting which I’m sure could be filled. However, a piece that was accidentally chipped and replaced has now cracked and it would appear the company has gone out of business having failed to overcome technical difficulties in manufacture. If anyone knows how I can replace this piece I would be very grateful for the information asap. Thanks


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