The Best Green Cabinetry Options for an Eco-Friendly Kitchen Design
Remodeling your kitchen is full of important decisions, and not just color and style. For many people, making ecologically responsible choices is just as important as form and function. Green cabinetry is a big part of an eco-friendly kitchen design. It’s easy to decide that you want your kitchen to be made in eco-friendly way, but many homeowners are surprised to discover just how many types of green cabinetry options there are. There are cabinets made from reclaimed wood, cabinets made from fast-regrowing wood or from wood that is guaranteed to be replanted through forestry conservation. There is also pressed-wood cabinetry that has no formaldehyde preservative, and paint or varnish that is low in VOC (volatile organic compounds).
Let’s dive into your options for green cabinetry when designing an eco-friendly kitchen.
1) Salvaged and Reclaimed Wood Cabinetry
One of the biggest concerns with green cabinetry is conserving natural resources and reducing forest cutting. A great way to do this is to prioritize cabinets made from salvaged and reclaimed wood. This means that the wood was used for something else first, but that was taken apart, cut, and rebuilt into cabinets. Often, this reclaimed wood comes from buildings that have become structurally unsafe or no longer in use, like old barns. The wood that is still in great condition is then taken away and repurposed into all sorts of things.
Salvaged and reclaimed wood makes great floors, has been built into furniture, and is often used for green cabinetry. Reclaimed wood cabinets involve no new trees being cut and come with a wonderful history that you can often learn about and enjoy welcoming into your home.
2) FSC and ESP Certified Cabinetry
Cabinetry certified by environmental groups is another way to go. The most common certifications are FSC and ESP. FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council. They only certify wood and cabinet manufacturers if the wood has been harvested in a responsible and sustainable manner. This usually means dedicated replanting and working to preserve the ecosystems that are affected by cutting. ESP stands for Environmental Stewardship Program (not psychics) and holds similar principles of preservation and ecological responsibility.
Certifications from either the FSC or the ESP show that the wood your cabinets are made from is new, but harvested carefully with ample replanting to conserve the environments from which the wood was harvested. Other certifications to look for are CARB Compliancy, EPP Designation, and LEED Accreditation.
3) Toxin-Free Cabinetry
The next thing to consider is pressed particle board cabinets. Many cabinets are not made out of solid wood, but pressed composite wood held together with a glue adhesive. The trouble is that many adhesives contain added formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. These cabinets are bad for the environment because they can ‘out-gas’ toxins and are potentially bad for your family as well. If you decide to go with pressed composite cabinetry, look for options that advertise as formaldehyde-free.
You may also want to think about the toxicity of the paint and varnish you choose. Liquid pigment is notorious for including toxic solvents to transfer the pigment and many include something called VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds. These are ingredients that are bad for humans, animals, and some plants. Breathing VOCs as paint dries or over time in your home can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, difficulty breathing, nausea, and some VOCs cause cancer. Look for water-based paints and varnishes that advertise low VOCs. It is not necessary for brands to reveal their VOC count but some make it clear that they have reduced their VOCs.
4) Fast-Regrowing Wood Cabinetry
Another way to make ecologically responsible cabinetry choices is to look for fast-growing wood types. Replanting is wonderful, but many trees take as much as 50 years to fully replace themselves after cutting and replanting. There are certain types of wood that make great cabinets and can replace themselves incredibly quickly for a tree’s lifecycle.
The classic fast-growing wood is bamboo. Bamboo replaces itself in a few very short years. Bamboo stalks (for construction) are ready to be harvested between 4 and 10 years after planting which is incredibly rapid compared to trees. Bamboo also spreads incredibly quickly, filling any planted field edge-to-edge with new stalks within a year or two after planting clustered stalks initially.
This means that bamboo is incredibly eco-friendly for natural wood cabinets because no eco-system needs to be damaged to grow, cut, and regrow bamboo for construction.
Lyptus is a genetically modified type of eucalyptus tree that was designed specifically to address the deforestation and replanting issues. Lyptus, a hardwood, takes about 15 years to mature between cuttings, which is about a quarter the maturation time for a hardwood. Lyptus is easily stained but naturally has a rosy hue with a wide range of light to dark natural color, making it a lovely alternative to cherry or mahogany.
The coolest thing about lyptus? It regrows from the remains of a previously cut lyptus tree. This means that cleared fields of the modified lyptus tree can be harvested over and over again, making it very eco-friendly.
5) What to Watch Out For
Finally, there are a few details you might want to keep in mind in addition to materials and certifications. Consider the distance that your cabinet wood has traveled, as trucking ads to emissions and wood harvested closer to you will have a lower overall carbon footprint.
Avoid exotic woods for a number of reasons. First, they are often rare and slow-growing types of tree that are not easy to harvest ecologically. Second, they often come from very far away, adding to their carbon footprint with transport.
Generally, look for products that include a minimal amount of glue to minimize the unlisted VOCs in your whole cabinetry construction. Look for solid panel cabinets and those that prioritize smart use of nails and fasteners over glue.
Green Cabinetry with Bradco Kitchens and Baths
If you’re looking to remodel your kitchen, the best way to make your design eco-friendly is to work with the right custom remodeling team. Here at Bradco, we prioritize green cabinets. Bradco cabinets are manufactured locally to reduce the carbon footprint so that every aspect of your project can be ecologically responsible. No matter what look, style, or design you’re going for, we can help you make the most eco-friendly choices to best suit your design.
We would love to help you build a truly ecologically responsible kitchen that is both beautiful and green, no matter what color you choose to finish with. Let us build you a beautiful kitchen that you can feel good about. Contact us today to begin a consultation on your dream kitchen and we’ll talk about both your vision and your eco-friendly choices in green cabinetry and efficient fixtures.