The F.R.E.S.H. Kitchen concept was developed by Vestabul to be used as a guideline when deciding which “green” products and design elements are the best choices for you and the environment when developing a kitchen. F.R.E.S.H. is a philosophy of what we choose to put in our homes and being truly “green” transcends the environment and embraces ethical, societal and economic issues.
For example, granite countertops are often marketed as “green” because they are fabricated from a natural material. When you look at this product from the F.R.E.S.H perspective it probably would not make the grade. It is very labor intensive to install, its waste is difficult to recycle and it must be coated with a strong chemical sealant to avoid staining. Unsealed granite countertops are a breeding ground for mold and bacteria.
Engineered quartz countertops are a better F.R.E.S.H. option. Quartz products often include recycled materials and some brands are embed with microban, an additive to ward off salmonella and other food born bacteria. The waste from fabrication can also be recycled into new counters. From a functional stand point they are the easiest counter material to maintain.
If you are stuck on a decision ask yourself “Is it Functional? Is it Renewable? Is it Eco-friendly? Is it Sustainable? and/or is it Healthy?”
Let’s look closer at some products and design elements that evoke the acronym of F.R.E.S.H.
F = FUNCTIONAL
- Design the kitchen around Food Flow Kitchen Zones
- Use space saving cabinet accessories that maximize storage
- Renovate without increasing the homes square footage
- Incorporate Universal Design into the space
R = RENEWABLE
- Choose products that are grown rapidly, harvested and replanted quickly
- Bamboo, grasses, cork, hemp, cotton
- Choose products produced from agricultural or manufacturing waste
- Choose recycled products to reduce the need to extract or harvest virgin resources
- Choose products that can easily be recycled in the future
E = ECO-FRIENDLY
- Choose products that do not off-gas toxic chemicals (VOC’s) into your home environment
- Install the minimum amount of product possible
- Choose products produced close to home
- Reuse existing items in the new design
- Re-purposing items instead of sending them to the landfill
S = SUSTAINABLE
- Meet your needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs
- Do not choose “disposable” products with no longevity
- Choose durable products that will withstand the abuse of a hard working kitchen
- Choose modular cabinetry or unfitted kitchens for the best use of wood products from a manufacturing standpoint
- Specify woods that have FSC certification or are sustainably harvested
H = HEALTHY
- Ensure a safe kitchen environment through good design and product choices
- Use zero or low VOC paints, stains, glues and sealants on surfaces
- Use products that do not promote bacteria growth
- Plan kitchen close to a kitchen garden
- Orient the kitchen to take advantage of natural light and ventilation
The F.R.E.S.H. Kitchen concept helps homeowners make choices that work philosophically for them, their homes and the environment.
Hopefully F.R.E.S.H. will help you wade through the “green” movement with new knowledge and direct you to make the right choices for your new kitchen!
Please comment on your experience with choosing and purchasing “green” products for your kitchen or home.