This month I’d like to concentrate on green kitchen cabinets. There has been a lot of discussion with regard to this topic over the last few years, and while I do think it’s important not to be an alarmist, there is ample evidence out there that supports the trend towards all green and eco-friendly products in our lives, not just for our own health but for the earth.
As I’m sure almost everyone will agree, the kitchen is probably the most popular and frequently used room in our homes. But did you know the air in your kitchen could be making you sick? Conventional kitchen cabinets release potentially harmful gases into the air which come from substrates used in the manufacturing and processing of particle board. Urea formaldehyde resin, used to make most of the particle board or fiber board from which the majority of kitchen cabinets are created is a known carcinogen. This substrate constantly off gasses formaldehyde into your environment and to make matters worse, the emissions become more toxic when they come in contact with a heat source. There are so many appliances in our kitchens that could heat up the cabinets: ovens, cooktops, steaming kettles, dishwashers…the list is long.
This growing consumer concern combined with the desire for products that don’t put a strain on the environment has created a growing market demand for eco-friendly kitchen cabinets. In 2006, the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) launched the Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP) to “encourage practices that benefit the environment and society.” The ESP seal is displayed on certified products which are awarded based on compliance in five categories: air quality, product resource management, process resource management, environmental stewardship and community relations. KCMA’s website, www.greencabinetsource.org is an excellent resource for learning more about companies who make ESP certified products and other sustainable initiatives. KCMA encourages companies to consider all aspects of the construction, using wood from sustainable forest resources and using finshes, paints and sealants that are not air pollutants.
Some of you may not want to go out and purchase new cabinets. If you have cabinets that are made of particle board and you want to remove the possibility of further off gassing you can purchase a no VOC water based sealant. You will have to remove the face of your cabinets and be sure to thoroughly cover the entire surface area of your cabinet box. You can also paint and seal your cabinet faces in the same manner. This is budget friendly solution that I believe will go a long way. Safecoat brand sealants are excellent.
Some standout companies that make green and beautifully designed cabinets are Bertch, GreenQuest Cabinets by Crystal and Breathe Easy Cabinetry. You can contact our office to get a full list and locations of recommended dealers. Another fantastic material for kitchen cabinets is the non lumber product, bamboo. Bamboo is beautiful, renewable and sustainable product, which leads me to the focus of my next article. See you then!
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