Are Your Cabinets Eco-friendly? Or, do they contain formaldehyde?

October 1, 2008

Living ‘green’ definitely has it’s benefits. Not only is it good for our environment and health, but purchasing certain products will actually avoid carcinogens found in chemicals. Most cabinets these days are made of particle board that is full of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

Sure, it seems that these days, there are carcinogens everywhere, so why are formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) so harmful? Unfortunately, kitchen cabinets are the main source of formaldehyde emissions in the home. This of course is alarming to me because the kitchen is the room my kiddos and I spend the majority of our day. One problem with formaldehyde is that it can actually make you more sensitive to other chemicals. To ensure avoiding this sensitizer when remodeling your home and kitchen, make sure and install eco-friendly cabinets.

When searching for ‘green’ cabinets, ask questions about:

  • glues – make sure they are VOC free and water based
  • veneers, plywood and laminates – are they held together with formaldehyde?
  • toxic finishes – look for water based or natural finishes (those that use natural oil and wax such as linseed oil and beeswax).
  • paint – look for water based and low to no VOC
  • particle board/plywood substitutes – such as Purebond and Medite

Make sure that you understand and feel comfortable about your decision and the product you are buying/installing.

Green materials for your eco-friendly cabinetry:

  • Solid Hardwood. Make sure the wood has been responsibly harvested (milled and seasoned without chemicals, pesticides, and colorants).
  • Metal Cabinets.
  • Salvage. Salvage companies are a good place to look for old cabinets that have been made with solid hardwood. You’ll avoid the unwanted chemicals and give a would-be garbage item a new life.
  • Are they Green Guard or Green Seal Certified?

Try to get your green cabinets locally. If they are shipped a great distance, your ‘greeness’ you were seeking is reduced. Here are some ‘green’ cabinet companies that might be near you:

Bradco Kitchens & Bath in Los Angeles

Healthy Cabinet Makers in northern Arkansas

Koch & Company in Kansas
a Koch supplier shipping all over the Midwest from Chicago: Kitchen Village

Breathe Easy Cabinetry in New York

Executive Kitchens in South Carolina

Taylor Made Cabinetsin Massachusetts

Neil Kelly Cabinets (51 dealers) in AZ, Northern & Southern CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IL, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NV, NC, OR, VA, WA

Humabuilt in Oregon

For a list of ESP Certified Manufacturers, click here

Best wishes on your ‘green’ cabinet projects. Send us some photos when you’re finished. ­čÖé

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