This fall, follow expert designer Sarah Barnard’s 5 tips to get an eco-friendly kitchen:
1. Fresh air and ample daylight are integral ingredients to a healthy, happy home. Plan for operable windows and/or skylights to ensure a visual connection to the outdoors and adequate air.
2. Avoid composite wood products (like medium density fiberboard, oriented strand board and particle board) whenever possible. Many are treated with formaldehyde (a colorless, toxic material that has been found to cause respiratory problems and cancer), which releases volatile chemicals indoors. If you can’t escape composite wood, seal it with AFM Safe Seal to protect your family. Visit afmsafecoat.com.
3. Vent your range hood to the outside to improve indoor air quality and efficiently remove cooking odors, smoke and gas. The National Kitchen and Bath Association provides tips.
4. Avoid vinyl flooring, mini blinds, wallpaper or anything else that contains Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). PVC has a reputation for being durable, inexpensive and easy to clean. The harsh truth is that PVC has been shown to cause asthma and poisoning. For more information, check this www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/news-and-blogs/news/how-to-find-and-avoid-toxic-vi/.
5. Use NO VOC natural paints, stains, sealers and adhesives. Anything that has to be applied with a mask and gloves can’t be good for your indoor air quality. Consider truly natural products made with natural ingredients like AFM Safe Coat or American Clay.
1. Go local! Homeowners often unknowingly purchase “green” products that require extreme amounts of fossil fuels to be shipped. Support your local economy by choosing cabinetry made of responsible materials within 100 miles of your site’s location.
2. Instead of reusing old appliances, look for ENERGY STAR-rated appliances. They will markedly decrease your home’s overall energy use, adding up to quantifiable reductions on your monthly electricity bill.
3. Be kind to the forest. Most people don’t know that most lumber products come from poorly managed forests where wildlife habitat, food sources of indigenous people and delicate eco-systems are all but destroyed from rampant clear cutting. Seek Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood products and be rewarded with the peace of mind that your kitchen cabinets are “benefiting people and nature around the world.”
4. Design recycling and composting into your kitchen plan. Locating a concealed recycling bin within a base cabinet (close to the trash) is convenient to use and a necessary part of our daily chores. Composting (using your organic waste as fertilizer for your garden) is just about as easy as recycling, but does require a little bit of extra work. A variety of user-friendly compost bins are available, relatively inexpensive and can be stored in the utility room or outdoors. Homeowners who make the switch from singular trash bin to separated trash, recycling and compost quickly find that they are able to divert almost all of their household waste from the landfill. For more information on composting, visit www.composters.com/compost-bins.php
5. Install dimmable fluorescent light fixtures. Fluorescent fixtures are eco-friendly because they use less energy than traditional incandescent fixtures. Dimmable fluorescents are even better because you adjust the light levels to what you need, only ever using the minimum that is required. Plus, they allow you to create moods that you wouldn’t be able to with a standard switch.
by Danielle Hontz