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Greener Choices Home > Guide to greener kitchens: cabinets 8/11

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Guide to greener kitchens: cabinets 8/11
(This article is adapted from ConsumerReports.org.)

Intro | Refrigerators | Dishwashers | Cooktops and ranges
Countertops | Cabinets | Flooring | Lighting | Paint


Cabinets that are certified

The greenest cabinets have sustainably harvested wood from nearby, along with non-toxic glues and finishes, and paint with low or no volatile organic compounds (see the Paint section below for guidelines). But you can save the cost of new cabinets—and the energy consumed by manufacturing, shipping, and disposal—by refinishing or re-facing your old ones if they're structurally sound. You can also save money, and reduce your carbon footprint, by looking for salvaged materials. Habitat for Humanity's ReStores are among the sources of reusable and surplus building materials.

Some new cabinets also use recycled content. As with flooring, cabinets certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or Sustainable Forestry Initiative must be sustainably harvested or contain a portion of recycled materials. But neither of those independent certifications assesses formaldehyde. Many cabinets contain at least some medium-density fiberboard (MDF), which typically uses glues that include urea-formaldehyde. MDF contains a higher resin-to-wood ratio than any other urea-formaldehyde pressed-wood product and is usually the highest formaldehyde-emitting pressed-wood product. Some companies offer MDF products claiming no added urea-formaldehyde.

Get more information on cabinet labels here.

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