Did you want to build a sustainable kitchen but the task, which seemed deceptively easy at first, now appears overwhelming? True, calculating the exact ecological footprint is practically impossible. Yet, knowing what to look for can help in making good decisions.
Sadly, the basic fact is that the cheapest way of creating a product is rarely the most sustainable or ethical. Not everything labeled as “green”, “eco”, “organic” and “environmentally friendly” is, in fact, sustainable. Certified products often come with a higher price tag because certification itself can be costly. Often, so is the ethical renumeration of labour. In the end, it all comes down to making conscious choices that require effort and time.
For Vitra, possibly the most famous furniture-maker in the world, “sustainability is the creation of products that omit non-essential elements and last a long time”. The Swiss company looks at the continued value of its products, their resale prices and their desirability as they age. In that context, the value of the product is in looking beyond temporary trends. Today, even mainstream manufacturers understand the value of sustainable materials and increasing consumer awareness and are beginning to offer a number of products that cater to the environmentally-conscious.
How to start
The first step is to decide what is the realistic life-cycle of your kitchen. This decision should help drive the choice of materials. Will they be able to withstand the test of time – or have a useful second life? Ideally, you’d want both.
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