There are so many reasons to choose eco-friendly kitchen and bathroom solutions and products for your home; here are some great ideas
We are surrounded with toxic materials in our environment every day, especially in our buildings. Despite what you may think, the eco-friendly home IS easy and affordable to achieve, and there’s no better place to start than in your kitchen and bathroom.
The eco-friendly kitchen should start with what you eat, but shouldn’t stop there. Building with non-toxic, low or no VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) materials and using energy efficient appliances, non-toxic cleaning products, tools and responsible waste treatment, are all choices you can make to create a truly clean, ‘green’ kitchen.
The largest component of any kitchen is the joinery, or cabinets. Choose timber products that are Forest Stewardship Council-certified, with low- or zero-VOCs, and ensure that paints, glues and grouts are also non-toxic. Choose ceramic tiles and solid surfaces with a clear provenance – look for third party certification such as Green Tag, FSC and PEFC. Insist on low-VOC paints for joinery and walls. Select LED lighting and if your kitchen is dark, a skylight can save on daytime electricity bills. Ensure the internal hardware in joinery is of a high standard, and that appliances have the highest ratings for environmental sustainability, energy and water efficiency. Choosing top quality materials will mean your kitchen lasts longer – don’t be a slave to trends when building or remodelling. If you’re upgrading, try selling or giving away your old kitchen before sending it to landfill.
As with the kitchen, the choices you make for the eco-friendly bathroom can save on energy use but also ensure the health of you and your family.
Apart from good ergonomics, style and comfort, one of the most important considerations when creating your bathroom is ventilation. Excess humidity from hot showers and baths can cause mould if ventilation is poor; and mould can contribute to allergies and other ailments. Ensure you have good natural cross-ventilation and look at high quality mechanical ventilation if extra is required. Consider under-floor, hydronic heating as it too can contribute to a healthier environment by keeping the space dry. Conserve water and energy with low-flow taps and toilets, water-efficient showerheads, thermostat-controlled water heating, hydronic-heated towel rails and LED lighting.
Choose eco-friendly materials as in your kitchen, including all surface materials, glues, grouts, joinery, appliances and accessories. Avoid acrylic or fibreglass baths and basins and opt for more eco-friendly, durable products such as porcelain, stone and steel enamel, which can be recycled. When choosing surfaces for flooring, ensure they are fit for purpose, durable and slip-resistant.
There are many ‘green’ options from which to choose (www.geca.eco is a good place to start). Buying locally-made is a great first step. So, ensure you do your homework before choosing your kitchen or bathroom designer, product supplier and manufacturer and enjoy your spaces for many years to come.
This stunning kitchen was designed by Megan Norgate from Brave New Eco and incorporates myriad eco-friendly materials and products. braveneweco.com.au
Relax in the eco bathroom. Certified in all six elements of EnviroDevelopment, including AAA-rated tapware. Designed by Christopher Design Group, built by Royce Beale, Optam Building Group. Interior design Carole Hastie, Interior Motives Consultant Nelson Wills, EnviroDevelopment.
TOP TEN ECO TIPS:
1. Choose flooring that is non-slip, durable and Green Tag Certified
2. Select low-flow taps with a high WELS rating, quality materials and construction
3. Insist on zero or low-VOC materials including paints, glues, grouts and joinery
4. Use LED lighting for task and ambient light
5. Ensure adequate cross-flow ventilation to keep air quality at its best
6. Employ the elements and principles of good design for space planning, cabinet heights and traffic flow
7. Choose energy-efficient appliances for cooking, heating and cooling
8. Look for third party certification such as FSC for timber products for joinery and furniture
9. Install recycling bins and consider composting your food waste
10. Recycle or upcycle your old kitchen and bathroom materials if possible, to save on landfill
Written by Kate St James