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Eco Friendly Cabinets - Use Formaldehyde-Free Cabinets for Your Home

eco friendly cabinets

As you go through our Green Checklist, you quickly discover that the changes you make for the good of the earth are for the good of your health too. That is certainly the case when choosing eco-friendly cabinets. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogenic, yet urea formaldehyde is the binder used in plywood, pressed wood and particleboard -- the most common materials used to make cabinets. In fact, pressed wood is the most significant source of formaldehyde in the home. So consider the contents of your cabinets carefully and, beyond that, the source.

Buy Cabinets Made From Formaldehyde-Free Materials

FSC certified wood or bamboo, meaning the Forest Stewardship Council has given its seal of approval to the growth and harvesting of wood (or bamboo) that has:

  • Been Sustained Managed
  • Not Contributed to Biodiversity or Habitat Loss
  • Not Exploited Workers
  • Positively Impacted the Local Community
  • Reclaimed Wood - salvaged from old buildings
  • Wheatboad - made from the un-edible portion of wheat stalks
  • Vintage Metal Cabinets - salvaged from tear-down or remodeled projects

You may consider salvaging vintage wood cabinets too, but it could prove a challenging search as you must make sure they are 100 percent solid wood and not the formaldehyde-riddled plywood, pressed wood or particleboard varieties.

Look for ESP Certification

The Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP) is an initiative of the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA). According to its website, ESP is "the only environmental certification program that specifically focuses on kitchen and bath cabinets," awarding certification based on excellence in the five following categories of cabinet making:

  • Air Quality
  • Product Resource Management
  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Community Relations

The KCMA has awarded ESP certification to dozens of U.S. and Canadian cabinet makers, the full list of which you can browse at

Buy From Local Cabinet Makers

As with all of your purchases, the closer to home the products are manufactured, the smaller the carbon footprint as transportation fuel emissions are minimized. Just keep in mind that local cabinet makers may not be ESP certified. And if they use reclaimed wood, it will not be FSC certified. When considering a cabinet maker who lacks these certifications, express your interest in sustainable materials and eco-friendly manufacturing processes. Reference ESP certification, which they may already be familiar with. Engaging in this type of dialogue, you should be able to judge how familiar and genuinely interested they are in eco-friendly cabinet making practices.