Post by Stacey Walker. Stacey mostly works behind the scenes for Walker Woodworking, managing day to day operations, and marketing. Stacey has helped many clients create their dream space.

How to Design a Zero Waste Kitchen

More and more homeowners are interested in not just using eco-friendly products and materials but in designing their home to have as little impact on the environment as possible. This has led to a rise in zero waste kitchen concepts with designers looking to meet their client’s request in a way that gives them a functional, environmentally friendly, yet stylish kitchen. We know that certain materials are better than others and allowing more of nature inside our home is good but what exactly does it mean to design a zero waste kitchen or even a bathroom? We are seeking to answer that question along with providing you with helpful tips for your upcoming renovation.

What is a zero waste kitchen or bathroom?

Basically it is a design concept based around a minimalist lifestyle where homeowners only keep the things that they will use every day versus a traditional kitchen design. The main goal of this type of kitchen is to reduce the amount of waste in areas such as water usage, trash, and limited use of products that can be reused instead of simply thrown away. Of course, it is pretty much impossible to live completely with zero waste but rather less wasteful. One of the main keys to accomplishing this task would be to live with intention, to think about what you use every day and how you could reduce or recycle it instead. A good design plan can go a long way in making this easier to do than you think.

Thoughtful design

One suggestion is to buy in bulk and opt for reusable grocery bags which is a great idea but that can mean some modifications are needed to your kitchen design. Larger purchases such as flour, sugar, and spices will need to have adequate storage space so that they will stay fresh. A pantry with shelves capable of bearing the extra weight or with space underneath them to place large, airtight containers is a great way to solve this problem. Including additional hooks or even large drawers where you can store all the reusable shopping bags so that they are not scattered all over the house can be very beneficial. Composting is another important element for having a zero waste kitchen but this usually means there needs to be some extra thought put into this. Having a double trash can pull-out can be a wonderful option since all of your trash can be taken care of in one simple area. Just be sure to select one that is airtight so you can empty it once a day without worrying if the smell will seep through your kitchen. Don’t forget about a recycling station. You can choose to have an additional collection station in the laundry room or even pantry since there is very little odor associated with this plus it will make it easier to recycle for everyone if there are bins with clear labels on them. A well thought out design plan can make all the difference for a zero waste kitchen or bathroom. Check out this zero waste kitchen design featured on Apartment Therapy.

Think long term

When thinking about renovating your kitchen it is important to ask yourself a few questions like will this be my forever home? If the answer is yes, then consider what elements are important to you and that will age in place with you. By doing this you will limit the need for another renovation later which can also help with the zero waste factor, since we all know that construction is a messy business and waste is unavoidable. Some good things to keep in mind for an aging in place kitchen include:

  • Lower countertops
  • Minimal floor transitions
  • Extra drawers
  • Durable material
  • Additional lighting

Making these small adjustments at the beginning of your remodel will mean less adjustments later plus it will also save you money. Think about the materials you select and which ones will give you the longest life such as countertops and flooring options. The more durable the material the longer you can enjoy your space and avoid having to do it all over again. Select cabinets that will handle wear and tear well over the years. Consider your kitchen layout as well, the more detailed the plan and long term thought process the more likely it will last for a long, long time. 

Eco-friendly design options

There are many eco-friendly design options available and while they are not the same as zero waste, the goal is still to minimize our carbon footprint. When planning a renovation or remodel look at options such as:

  • Bamboo
  • Cork
  • Reclaimed wood
  • Recycled glass
  • Natural lighting
  • Natural fabric

These materials will still do a wonderful job of making your home comfortable and beautiful but are much better for the environment. Whenever possible, plan to maximize the natural light available in your home, not only is it beautiful but it also comes with several benefits for your health. Reclaimed wood and recycled glass are wonderful design choices since they keep these materials out of the landfill and turned into something amazing. Often they make unique options that add visual interest to your space too. When it comes to upholstery and area rugs, selecting materials that are natural like cotton and wool which also tend to be more durable than the man-made fabrics that are treated with chemicals. Bamboo is a quick growing plant meaning that it is a great substitute for items traditionally made from wood such as cutting boards, furniture, and accent pieces. Cork is a renewable resource made from the bark of a tree plus it is hypoallergenic and resistant to mold making it a great choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Eco-friendly choices work together with zero waste ideals to keep this planet in great condition.

Why does zero waste matter?

We only have one planet, there is no “planet B” which means it is up to us to take care of the one we have. Zero waste is a great place to start because it causes us to stop and evaluate our everyday habits such as single use plastic items like coffee pods and disposable water bottles. We all can take a page out of nature’s book as we watch it constantly reuse and recycle itself, from the leaves in the forest floor to the rivers making their way back to the sea. When we make better design choices we are ensuring that our children will be able to enjoy the same beauty we did. Your renovation can be everything you want it to be with a few good selections and a great plan. Our experienced design team can help you find just the right materials, layout, and storage solutions that will give you the home you love while protecting our planet. Let’s work together to reduce waste while still creating something beautiful. Connect with us today and let’s get started on planning your zero waste kitchen or bathroom. We serve over 15 counties including Catawba, Henderson, Mecklenburg, Iredell, Gaston, Spartanburg, Greenville, Buncombe and more. Together we can make a difference and an impact for good.