How To Make Your Kitchen Green
Are you interested in living a healthier lifestyle, with better indoor air quality? Here are some things you can do to support wholesome environmental consciousness whilst designing—and using—your new kitchen.
Choosing Environmentally Friendly Products for your Kitchen
Making the positive choice to use greener products benefits you, the people around you, and the environment. Michael Braungart, co-author of Cradle to Cradle- Remaking the way we Make Things, said, “Right now indoor air quality is three to eight times worse than the outdoor air quality of Los Angeles.” This is a result of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in building materials, furniture, fabrics, cleaners, etc., that off-gas into our homes.
Many companies now make their products cleaner and greener. Independent governing bodies accredit companies that use ecologically sound and safe practices. These governing boards include: Leader in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Cradle-to Cradle, Greengard Environmental Institute, and Environment Choice certification in Australia.
As Australians, and the environmentally conscious worldwide, demand ecologically responsible products, companies rise to the challenge. We at Blue Tea support their efforts, and offer these tips for choosing green:
Cabinetry Choose Australian made cabinetry. Australian law requires low VOCs in cabinet manufacturing. Cabinets imported from China have been noted to have higher concentrations of formaldehyde (a carcinogen), so beware of these products.
Doors Laminex and UltraGlaze door manufacturers offer zero VOCs.
Bench Tops CaesarStone has been independently certified by The Greengard Environmental Institute for low VOCs in benchtop manufacturing. Some other United States companies also offer ecologically sound bench tops. Ask your Blue Tea designer for options.
Paint Choose paints with zero VOCs for healthier indoor air quality. The Australian brands, Resene and Porter’s Paints offer a range of environmentally friendly products.
Flooring Choose natural flooring—such as FSC solid timber (with water-based VOC-free sealant), cork and, linoleum—for sustainability and producing no VOCs. Stay clear of laminated timbers. These are covered with chemicals.
We still have a long way to go before available products become more than just sustainable, but actually improve the environment. Choosing green is a good first step.
In Australia, US, Canada and the UK, product labels warn of immediate dangers, but they still keep us in the dark about VOC levels and possible danger with exposure over time. There is no standard definition or independent organisation that defines words such as environmentally-friendly, non-toxic and natural. Because marketing can be deceiving, we customers must make informed decisions based on our own research.
There are key chemicals to look out for that are known to be harmful to humans and the environment, these include Ammonia, Antibacterial Soap, Bleach, Phosphates and Sodium Hydroxide to name a few. Instead of chemical cleaners, use natural cleaners which will disinfect and thoroughly clean: lemon, vinegar and bicarb of soda are a few choices. Method (available in most Woolworths) is also healthy and safe.
Try not to microwave your food in plastic containers; while some are labelled safe, you are better off microwaving in ceramic of glass dishware as plasticisers may leak into your food. Also be careful with your Teflon cookware. If it is not good quality, it may peel into your food, which is then ingested, causing chemicals to invade your bloodstream.
Blue Tea considers the environment, and our customer’s health and well-being, key aspects of kitchen renovation. In the following weeks we will delve into each topic and give you more information to help you make informed decisions about your new or existing kitchen.