What do you really know about your options for remodeling your kitchen for sustainability? Find out how much when you take our Fact or Fiction: Green Kitchen Construction Materials quiz.
Many cheap, quick additions or swaps, such as installing solar window shutters or adding flowers, increase your kitchen's eco-friendliness. You don't necessarily have to remodel the whole kitchen.
Glass is expensive, but not impossible, to recycle. Companies are surfacing that specialize in glass recycling, especially by turning crushed scraps into gorgeous, mosaic-like counters and flooring.
The government regulates paint labels. A paint with "low-VOC" or "no-VOC" on its label contains fewer volatile organic compounds (the carcinogenic chemicals giving paint its odor) than regular paints, so it will pollute the air and your lungs less.
In fact, many local and state governments, California in particular, are developing organizations and committees to research and promote green-building techniques. These end up saving the taxpayers money, and the state conserves resources and helps reduce pollution.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs consume up to 75 percent less energy than regular light bulbs. Switching will reduce your electricity bill, and you won't have to make the swap soon again; CFLs last for about 10 years.
Fibers are often made from resources similar to wood, such as cornstalks, hemp, palm trees and wheat. When combined and formed into a kitchen interface, they can look and serve as solidly as the real thing. Adding a finish of shellac, stain or veneer can improve the look, too.
Bamboo is indigenous to the Pacific Rim where, after harvesting, it will re-grow in its original spot and can be ready for another harvest just a few years later.
New solar window shutters allow you to install inexpensive solar-power generators simply by replacing your shutters.
Although environmentally friendly construction materials have an average up-front cost that is more than traditional materials, they often reduce utility bill charges and pay for themselves and then some in the long run.
Floor replacement can take as little as a day, depending on the experience of the staff, size of the kitchen and how long they have access. Let them work the business hours while you're at the office, and they could complete the project within two or three days tops.
Plants are absolutely green! Add several, or grow a mini garden in the sunny parts of your kitchen. They not only improve moods, but also increase oxygen, benefit your health and reduce carbon-dioxide pollution in the air. Plus they're cheap.
Residents of Alaska and Hawaii generally don't bother to recycle glass because few services are available to them, and the cost of recycling is greater than the value reaped from what's salvaged.
Bamboo is one of the most durable construction materials available, often with little or no processing. Buy it once, and you won't have to again.
Recycled aluminum, recycled glass, cork, wheatboard, bamboo, recycled porcelain and concrete are just some of the endless materials companies are transforming into gorgeous, functional countertops.
Biodegradable soaps are manufactured for consumers with sustainability on the brain. These soaps degrade harmlessly when they're reintroduced to the environment, eliminating pollution and concern about using gray water for outdoor irrigation.
Old newspapers, stationeries and other eye-candy papers can line walls beautifully. Paints, on the other hand, aren't able to be recycled and most contain VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, which pollute the air and are known to cause illness.
Countless companies are deconstructing abandoned wooden buildings, which would otherwise be demolished, and refurbishing their hardwood walls and floors for second lives in home remodeling.
Spending large sums of money required for a large-scale remodel can stop the hearts of people who worked hard to earn it. But the up-front costs of most eco-minded renovations will not only pay themselves and then some in the long-term, but also improve the health of those living in a sustainable home.
Reduce your kitchen's carbon footprint without major renovations by taking energy-conserving steps like refusing to let the faucet run longer than necessary, turning off lights you're not using, and not allowing the oven to preheat or stay on longer than necessary.