This year, we have invited the renowned and award-winning journalist and author Maria Soxbo to work with us to raise the issue of sustainability in a modern and interesting manner. We believe that raising awareness is the first step, because awareness matures into thought patterns and actions that become more long-term. Through Maria’s words on the this subject, we hope to reach people’s thoughts and actions.
The kitchen: the heart of the home or the status symbol of our time?
Few rooms are as central to our lives as the kitchen. It’s where we eat, whether it’s our morning oatmeal, family meals, or fancy New Year’s dinners. It’s where we enjoy each other’s company with a glass of wine, help our kids out with homework, bake cookies, and use the last of the produce in the fridge. At parties, guests inevitably end up in the kitchen sooner or later, and a set table is often our most beloved meeting place. And nothing says you’re home quite like the smell of something baking in the oven.
Give me food, or give me death! The kitchen has always been and will always be the focal point of our homes. But a few things have changed. We used to pickle, salt, and can our food so that it could be kept for longer. Nowadays, the kitchen is more a place to recycle our food and takeaway packages. There are, of course, a few kitchens that are still used to create incredible food and delicious baked goods, but that tends to only be the case for people who really love cooking. For those of us without that passion, quick and easy food is the name of the game.
As a result, how a kitchen looks is more important than what it’s used for. Today, there isn’t a lot of talk about how a kitchen should be designed to be practical; it’s more about what materials we want, what color the cabinets will be, where we’ll store our appliances, and if we want open or closed storage. The kitchen has become the home’s most prominent status symbol, which means that form often takes priority over function. It’s not about an easy-to-clean sink that will last you for generations and won’t rust. Rather, it’s all about having an enviable, extravagant kitchen that looks good on Instagram.
Kitchen trends are becoming more temporary and extreme. It’s normal to have delicate stone countertops that stain if you spill anything on them and expensive ceiling fixtures that cast a shadow no matter where you stand. Now our kitchens are supposed to be a physical representation of our personal brand, which it why it’s becoming more and more common for a barely used kitchen to be torn out when we move to a new place simply because it doesn’t match our style. However, our carbon footprint really spikes when we decide to renovate the kitchen to increase the value of the home before selling it, only for it to be torn out by the new owners because they have different taste.
From an emissions standpoint, 13 used kitchens equal 1 new kitchen, reducing your carbon footprint by 92%. You can also simply repaint your current kitchen and reduce your carbon footprint by a whole 97%. There are always options that go hand in hand with the world’s shifting stance towards sustainability. However, maybe it’s better to just change how we think entirely?
The kitchen is the heart of the home. That lovely adage doesn’t come from lavish materials or this season’s color trends. Rather, it’s borne out of all that the kitchen symbolises. Warmth, comfort, contentment. Raw ingredients that are combined into an aromatic meal that brings us all together. Family, culinary experiences, and memories.
And none of that requires a delicate Portuguese limestone countertop or a stainless steel wine cooler that costs a fortune. In fact, it’s the opposite. Some of my own most beloved memories are of pizza boxes on a dusty kitchen floor after moving, reheated leftovers after coming home with a newborn baby from the hospital, and a crazy “brinner” (breakfast for dinner) that the kids requested after a long outing.
Freshly baked cookies taste just as good in an old 1980’s kitchen as they do in a spotless kitchen from 2020. And if we save the renovation for when we actually need it, we’ll have more time and more money to spend on what actually means something. For the meals. For the parties. For the future.
Maria Soxbo is a journalist, author and co-founder of Klimatklubben. She switched from being an interior design blogger to become a greenfluencer, seeking to inspire more people to see the benefits of living sustainably. She is convinced that most of us would feel better by living a life within the boundaries of the planet rather than at the limits of our income and mental health, as in the treadmill of a society we live in. Together with Emma Sundh she also runs the podcast Plan B which focuses on the good life after the transition. On her own and together with others, Maria has written a total of six books about the climate and sustainability, and in 2021 she was 25th on the list of Sweden’s 101 biggest sustainability influencers.