Planning a sustainable kitchen is no harder than planning any new kitchen. The difference is that when you’re planning a sustainable kitchen, you need to adopt a slightly different mindset.
A new kitchen can be sustainable in a number of ways, so think these through when doing your research and planning. A living space can be sustainable in the materials that is made up of. Maybe you’re looking at reclaimed materials or high recycled content materials. We design a lot of kitchens with the materials front and centre of the design.
A living space can also be sustainably designed, so it is designed to last several decades, and not end up in landfill within a short space of time.
Sustainability can also come in the form of the way a space is put together. Choosing to purchase your kitchen from a retailer who runs the business sustainably is another path to a sustainable kitchen.
Below are a few key pointers to help you plan a sustainable kitchen.
Sustainability = Quality
Be prepared to pay for quality – a high quality kitchen with good quality appliances and materials will outlast a cheap one. The longer a kitchen lasts the more sustainable it is.
When you choose your basic kitchen cabinets, make sure you opt for ones that are well-made and up for the job. There is no point in creating and building a beautiful new space around flimsy cabinetry that aren’t designed to take the everyday hammer of kitchen action. Make sure that they are robust enough to take the weight of your choice of worktop. If the core cabinets are flat-packed and weak, you will end up replacing the whole kitchen before you really need to.
Similarly, make sure you choose a kitchen worktop which is strong and hard-wearing. It is crucial that it can withstand the daily prep and clearing up during cooking.
Go for something solid and built to last.
Refurbish, don’t scrap!
If you’re planning a new kitchen, you might not need to scrap everything and start from scratch. Consider whether you can salvage anything from your old kitchen to reuse in your new one.
Perhaps the cabinets are fine, but the doors and worktops need replacing. Or maybe the worktop could do with sanding back rather than being completely replaced.
Our projects often involve keeping some elements of a kitchen – whether it’s some of the appliances, the doors or the cabinets.
Sometimes we reuse handles, removing them from the old kitchen and incorporating them in the new one. It might seem a small thing, but they all add up!
This kitchen case study is a great example of a space that our clients wanted a sustainable approach to and we thoroughly refurbished it to make it more functional.
Choose energy-efficient appliances
Replace old in-efficient appliances and always buy the highest energy rating you can afford. While you might pay a little bit more at the outset by investing in an appliance that is more energy efficient, over time you will find the running costs will be lower.
In 2021 the UK ratings for appliances changed, to recalibrate the range being offered on the market. You can read more on these changes on our advice post here.
More and more people are choosing induction hobs over gas hobs as they are more energy efficient. This is just one of the reasons induction hobs are becoming more popular. Read our advice post here on the Pros and Cons of Induction Hobs.
When researching appliances, the Consumer Association Which is a good place to start. See here what they have to say about kitchen appliances.
Travel miles are something to consider if you are planning a sustainable kitchen.
Think about the material miles – how far has your kitchen travelled?
We source everything we can from the UK, and ideally, as local as possible. Miles that your materials have travelled can make a big contribution to the environmental footprint of your new space.
Materials that have travelled via container ship have a lower environmental impact tan those arriving via air.
We try to reduce our own impact locally by prioritising our electric vehicles. Our fleet is now more than 80% electric and we encourage our team to embrace active travel wherever possible.
Think about suppliers and sources
When planning your new sustainable kitchen, it is really important to think about the provenance of the raw materials.
Be cautious with granite – some retailers stopped selling some ranges of granite in the last few years due to child slavery concerns in India.
Make sure you know where your stone is coming from. If it’s very cheap then be suspicious.
Engineered stone is a better choice, but it’s worth considering other more environmentally friendly alternatives.
Recycled glass, recycled plastic (Durat) and recycled paper are all beautiful and highly sustainable options. You can read more about all of these materials on our materials page here. Or download our materials guide from the link at the bottom of this page.
Reclaim and re-use
Have a look round reclamation yards and see what you can find. You can often pick up reclaimed worktops, handles etc. although don’t expect them to be always cheaper than buying new.
Many of our kitchens contain elements of reclaimed wood. Our past projects have involved using reclaimed timber as kitchen worktops, bath panels, open shelving and much more.
We have used reclaimed timber from school lab benches, cathedral pews, railway wagons and stage floorboards.
We love that many of our kitchens have a backstory, with a previous life. Reclaimed timber adds character and makes a space unique.
To see some of our projects incorporating reclaimed timber, click here.
We’ve covered a few things to think about when planning your sustainable kitchen. Just taking a couple of these on board in your new kitchen design will have an impact, so don’t feel you have to tick everything off the list.
Remember, when thinking about sustainability, no-one is perfect. As a business we are constantly seeking improvement and encourage others to join us on that journey.
And lastly, don’t forget to dispose of your old kitchen responsibly. See our tips here on how to recycle your old kitchen.