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Going Green in the Kitchen: Eco-friendly Remodeling Options

Reduce, reuse, REMODEL. If your kitchen needs a new look, recycling old materials is a great way to take an eco-friendly approach to revamping the space while giving it a unique style.

Here are some ways to go green while remodeling.

Kitchen cabinets

Reclaimed Wood CabinetsReclaimed Wood Cabinets from Homestead Kitchen

When choosing wood for your cabinets, or any other part of your kitchen for that matter, try to find reclaimed wood. For example, salvaged lumber makes for great cabinet doors. Check the classifieds in your local paper or Craigslist to find inexpensive (or free) old wood.

If you don’t get reused wood, make sure that what you pick has the Forest Stewardship Council’s stamp of approval. FSC-certified wood comes from responsibly harvested forests where there is no clear cutting. Bamboo is another good renewable choice because it grows back quickly. It’s also stronger than a lot of other hardwoods.

Under-cabinet lighting

under-cabinet-lighting 2Under Cabinet Lighting from Home Depot


under-cabinet-lightingUnder Cabinet Lighting by Kitchens & Baths Unlimited

Buy either LED or fluorescent lights to go under your cabinets to light your counter top. These will use the least amount of energy and even more power can be saved if you get a dimmer.

Countertop choices

Recycled glass

Terrazzo-CountertopRecycled Terrazzo Countertop from Earth911

You can get a variety of colors from using recycled glass when mixed with concrete or cement. These countertops won’t absorb any liquid and are very durable. It will typically cost you between $50 and $80 per square foot.

Recycled paper

 Paperstone-CountertopPaperstone Countertops by Green Building Supply

Recycled paper is a cheaper option than glass at about $40 per square foot but, since they are resin-based, they can be scratched easily. They also aren’t as heat-resistant as other materials.

Recycled aluminum

Screen shot 2013-11-18 at 4.11.39 PMRecycled Aluminum Countertop from 708 Studios

Reusing aluminum is a great green alternative to stainless steel but, ranging from $65 to $100 per square foot, be prepared to pay a premium price for the sleek look.

Green options for floors


Cork Floor

Cork flooring has many benefits and is a rapidly renewable resource. It’s taken from bark that is able to grow back quickly. It also doesn’t contain any toxins and is easy to clean. Cork is sound absorbent and offers good support for your feet.


ceramic tileCeramic Tile from Architect Magazine

If you choose tile, make sure you get tile that is made from either 100% recycled glass or ceramic. Keep in mind, glass tiles scratch much more easily than ceramic ones.


Bamboo-carmelizedBamboo Flooring from The Flooring Girl

Bamboo works great as kitchen flooring because it’s easy to clean, moisture-resistant and durable. To clean it, just sweep and do some light mopping. Avoid using any household cleaners.



A convection oven will cook food faster than a conventional oven, helping to reduce your power usage.

Energy-efficient refrigerators


Get a refrigerator that has top and bottom refrigerator/freezer unit as opposed to one where they are side by side. This will cut down on the amount of cold air that escapes.

Green Your Air Quality

Another benefit of eco-friendly kitchen remodeling is that you’ll be improving the air around you. Many new cabinets, counters and floors have finishes containing toxins that make their way into the air and into your body. Avoid any materials that contain carcinogens such as formaldehyde.

Do you know of other ways to go green while remodeling your kitchen? Post your ideas in the comments section below.

Chris Long (1)  Chris Long is a Home Depot store associate in the Chicago suburbs. Chris also writes on kitchen design  ideas for the Home Depot website. He  provides advice to homeowners on cabinets, islands, faucets and other fixtures.

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    January 7, 2014 at 10:50 am

    I completely love the recycled glass countertops! Takes my breath away!

  • Rust
    January 8, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Love the reclaimed wooden cabinets and the bamboo flooring. Beautiful ideas!

  • Valerie
    January 9, 2014 at 10:45 am

    The cork floor is fabulous!

  • Loribeth
    January 12, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Now that we have a convection oven, I use it all the time for baking. I’ve definitely noticed that things bake faster and more evenly. I haven’t noticed a difference in or electric bill, but I never used the oven a lot. We will be refinishing our hardwood floors, so I would say that qualifies as reusing. Great ideas.

  • Shawn R
    January 14, 2014 at 6:27 am

    It was a nice theme of reclaimed wooden cabinets and the flooring especially the tile and bamboo. But the LED usage would not been a good suggestion for these type cabins. I t won’t look nice. So be more creative in that side and tyy to get any other possible way. You will get some suggestions from any interior designers like Avonlea kitchen&bathroom . Then it should be more impressive.