The kitchen is the room where the food that sustains a family is prepared. It is a very particular place, tied in to the natural cycle of our basic organic lives. Because of this, the ecological impact of kitchen flooring materials is important for philosophical, atmospheric, and even functional reasons.
The following are some of the most ecologically friendly kitchen floors available. These have been selected based on a variety of criteria, including manufacturing impact, life cycle concerns, contribution to broad environmental pollution, health factors, and the impact of the floor on the personal interior quality of the kitchen.
More About Eco Friendly Flooring
Natural Stone Tile Kitchens
Natural stone refers to any of a number of different materials, which are taken from quarries dug deep into the earth. This can include Marble, Granite, Slate, Limestone, and Travertine, as well as numerous others. Because it is taken from the ground, it is an all natural and nearly limitless resource. In addition it is long lasting, recyclable, biodegradable, and will break back down easily into the natural environment when disposed of.
The major ecological drawback to natural stone kitchen flooring is the quarrying process. If the mining company is not responsible their excavation efforts can lead to the destruction of natural resources. In addition, while stone itself is nearly limitless, certain types of stone are not, and veins of material do run dry when overtaxed. You also have to consider fuel burning costs when transporting stone long distances.
Hardwood Kitchen Flooring
All natural, and highly renewable, all it takes to make more hardwood is a seed, some sun, and some time. Well, that’s not entirely true, but with more harvesting companies emphasizing green lumbering practices, it is becoming easier than ever to get a really high quality hardwood floor that is eco friendly every step along the way.
Hardwood flooring is also longer lasting than almost any other surface covering. It can be refinished, and recycled, and it is entirely biodegradable. This is combined with durability, and an ease of maintenance that makes it popular in many kitchen environments.
Eco Friendly Bamboo
Bamboo has most of the properties of hardwood, including look, feel, and maintenance requirements, but it is actually made from a grass. Because of this it has some key differences, most of which serve to make it even more functional, and eco-friendly than its wooden counterparts.
While hardwood trees generally take 10-20 years to reach full maturity, bamboo stalks can be ready to harvest in as little as 3-5. The gathering process also allows you to leave the bamboo roots in the soil, and they will regrow without having to be replanted, making this extremely renewable. In addition to this it is durable (more than the average hardwood), it can be refinished, and it can be recycled.
Green Cork Kitchen Flooring
Cork is possibly the most renewable natural flooring material available. It is harvested from the bark of the cork oak, and the materials which are taken do not harm the plant in any way. Rather the bark will regrow naturally and can be harvested again every 8-15 years without having to replant. At the same time, a Cork Oak tree can live an average of 120 years, and can even get as old as 400 years of age in some cases.
Cork flooring naturally inhibits the growth of mold, mildew, and microorganisms. It repels dust and dirt, and naturally contributes to the indoor air quality of a kitchen. At the same time it is relatively easy to maintain, and won’t require harsh chemicals to get it clean.
Eco Friendly Linoleum Kitchens
Linoleum flooring is made from solidified linseed oil, a substance produced by dry pressing flax seeds. The result is an all natural, highly renewable, relatively inexpensive and durable flooring solution. Linoleum tiles and sheets are also completely biodegradable, and their manufacture has a low impact on the overall environment.
This natural material is popular in kitchens because of its resistance to staining, and its ease of maintenance. Linoleum tiles are also relatively easy to install, even for amateur do it yourselfers. While it does have a bit of a sullied reputation due to inferior manufacturing processes in the 1950’s, new innovations have made linoleum a viable and even popular kitchen flooring choice.