A no-nonsense explanation of eco-friendly kitchen cabinets
Green kitchen cabinets and thus furniture and other wood products use materials that are supposed to be good for the environment and help save energy and resources.
Some of the organic products and their pros and cons:
BAMBOO – Actually, it is a type of grass that grows almost like a weed in Asia. China is best known for its bamboo imports.
Advantages: It grows very fast and is therefore easily replaced. There is an abundance of bamboo in China and it is considered one of the most renewable products in the world.
It is a very strong product and harder than “oak”.
It can be dyed almost any color.
Cons: It has to be shipped from China to the United States, so it takes quite a bit of energy to ship.
RECYCLED WOOD – Recycled wood is wood that has been taken from the past and reused for new products.
Old Barn Wood – This wood can be used for cabinets, flooring, or for that matter, any wood product.
Old Logs Pulled from the Bottom of Lake Michigan – These are logs that have been harvested from the bottom of Lake Michigan. Loggers used to transport the logs across Lake Michigan and many of the logs ended up at the bottom of the lake. A company has been contracted to remove these logs and they have been recovered and dried.
Wood and beams from old factories: These are mainly woods used in the construction of old factories. These old joists can be re-sawn and used for flooring or even kitchen cabinets.
Pros: Recycled products are great because they take old materials and reuse them for new products.
Cons: Some of these products require a lot of energy to be recovered or processed to be used in new ones.
FORMALDEHYDE FREE wood: This is wood such as straw board or special MDF (medium density fibreboard) that uses special formaldehyde-free glues. There are a growing number of these products hitting the market.
Advantages: Because there is no formaldehyde in this engineered wood, it is better for the environment because it does not produce toxic gases.
Cons: Because it is not a finished product, it is generally used for cabinet interiors. Although some people may consider a more industrial look for a finished product.
Solid Wood: Actually, products made of solid wood can be considered eco-friendly, but special processing is required to keep them eco-friendly. Solid wood glued with special glues that do not contain formaldehyde. In addition, the finish of the wood is essential. Water-based LOW VOC wood lacquers are recommended over more traditional nitrocellulose lacquers which can harm the environment.
Advantages: More readily available and less expensive than some of the other finished woods mentioned above.
Cons: May require a lot of energy and resources to process into wood.
Another more hybrid product is solid wood that has been processed by an urban sawmill. There are small local sawmill companies that use logs that have been recovered from local tree services and local trees that have to be disposed of for reasons of illness or safety. These are great woods to use in cabinets and furniture because they come from local sources and less energy is used to ship and process them. Some of these urban sawmills even have solar ovens that use natural resources to dry the wood.
The “green-friendly era” is here and today there is a lot of hype about green products. But organic products have a lot of merit because they show that you care about the environment and its future. Sustainable products are the wave of the future and will likely increase in popularity in the future.