I Just Gotta Eco Ya:
- 32% of US lumber goes into making cabinets and furniture
- More than 130 Tons of Construction Debris is dumped in US Landfills yearly,
The 3 things you have to know if you are looking any type of Eco Cabinetry, including vanities, furniture, shelving and other wood structures are:
1.) Less Toxic options: Meaning low VOC’s. Non-Eco Cabinets are constructed from particleboard and MDF (medium density fiberboard) These materials contain ureas formaldehyde glue which can off gas toxins into the home.
2.) Sustainable options: Meaning purchasing FSC certified wood (including plywood), straw, Wheatboard, bamboo, soybeans, recycled materials, and locally sourced and produced products. Finishes should be low VOC paints, sealants and adhesives.
3.) Durability (which also has to do with sustainability. Buy the best you can afford, so it will last longer.
What to look for as far a quality goes is best described at this site Kitchen Place:
Before You Begin:
- Measure Your Space.
- Decide if you are changing the footprint. (can be more expensive)
- Determine what you need. Adjustable shelves, Lazy Susan’s, Recycling bins, Storage, Dishwasher, Stove/Oven, Microwave, Type of Sink, Refrigerator, Pantry, and more. Height is important as well. Because I’m tall, I had custom cabinets made for my height! No more backache!
- Go to Local Big Box Building Center and check out what’s available. Familize yourself with pricing and styles. Do not expect them to know about Eco options. They don’t know! Decide what materials you want; Gain knowledge of what’s available. I can tell you now, Home Depot does not have Eco Options available in Stock bathroom vanity.
- Investigate your options.
- Ask about Certification. (FSC, Green Building)
- Ask for VOC statements
- Wood and Wood Veneers: FSC or other industry certification attesting it comes from a well managed sustainable forest.
- Bamboo: Easily renewable, but because most bamboo is imported there is no organization that monitors environmental regulations and worker satisfaction. The resins used to laminate it may contain formaldehyde.
- Stainless Steel: Usually contains amounts of recycled steel and doesn’t off gas. Durable but can be scratched. Whether this is eco- friendly is debatable due to the amount of energy required in mining and refining.
- Reclaimed Wood
- Kirei Board
- Sunflower Seed Husks
To Eco or Not to Eco
The easiest thing to do is buy stock cabinets. Measure 3x and order once.
If you are on a Budget look at the below options. It will save you many dollars.
1.) Re-use your current cabinets: Either reface, re-paint or replace the doors.
2.) Buy Used available from Salvage Yards, Classifieds, Craigslist, Amazon., Restores, etc. )
If you are seriously considering lowering the Toxic levels in your home, you can buy Stock Cabinetry from various sources such as: (Dealer locators on websites) Always consider the cost of shipping. (not sustainable) Try to buy locally as much as possible.
- Neil Kelly
- Breathe Easy (Store locator on website)
- Crystal Kitchen
- Neff Kitchens (Store locator on website)
- Ikea: Sustainable company
- Humabuilt: Wheatcore cabinetry (manufacturer)
- AlterEco: Wheatgrass and Bamboo
- Berkeley Mills (out of Berkeley)
- Grass Cabinetry ( out of Sacramento)
- Omega Cabinetry: (Store locator on Website)
If you are interested in having cabinets made for you, there are many woodworkers, cabinetmakers who can custom design your cabinets. It is very important that you stress the materials and finishes be FSC Certified and have low VOC. The advantages are numerous, you can specify exactly what you want and you wouldn’t limited to ‘stock products. The Disadvantage is usually cost.
Green Checklist by Marilyn Crenshaw: This details exactly what to look for.