9 Sustainable Tips for Choosing Safe & Healthy Kitchen Furnishings

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Considering a kitchen remodel? Avoid bringing harmful toxins into your home and follow these tips for choosing sustainable, safe and healthy kitchen furnishings…

You may think that using homemade and natural cleaning products in and around your home is enough to prevent household toxins from building up indoors. In fact, there are many other sources of chemicals in your home than just cleaning and pest control solutions. Paint, furnishings, and even the materials your home is made from can emit harmful toxins into the air. For example, many kitchen cabinets and countertops are made from materials which release chemicals like formaldehyde or VOCs into the air over time.

You may not want to remodel your entire kitchen just to get rid of these materials (especially since a lot  of the off-gassing will occur in the couple years of use), but if you are already considering remodeling, you can avoid introducing these chemicals into your home in the first place by choosing safer and more sustainable materials for your new kitchen.

Here are a few things to look for when choosing materials for your kitchen or remodeling project, according to the Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Home Guide:

  • FSC-certified wood
  • No added formaldehyde or certified for low emissions
  • Greenguard Gold-certified adhesives, sealants and finishes

Here are a few more tips for choosing safe and healthy kitchen furnishings:

1.) Don’t pollute your kitchen with dangerous formaldehyde fumes and VOCs.

These chemicals are in the glues used to hold together plywood, particleboard or other composite wood items. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen, and Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic compounds that easily become vapors or gases, many of which are hazardous air pollutants and can cause respiratory irritation or other health problems.

2.) Don’t use finishes or sealers made with harmful solvents, such as petroleum distillates.

3.) Take care to select materials that are sustainable and don’t emit formaldehyde or other harmful chemicals.

4.) First, consider if you can refurbish and reuse existing cabinets or cabinet boxes in your home makeover.

This is the best way to reduce waste and material cost.

5.) For cabinet doors and fronts, look for solid wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC, to reduce your formaldehyde exposure.

6.) Limit the use of wood composite materials in your home as much as possible.

When composite wood is your only option—a likely scenario, especially if you’re looking for cabinet bases—avoid products that use urea formaldehyde-based glues, which continue to release formaldehyde for the life of the product. Instead, look for products certified by the California Air Resources Board as having no added formaldehyde, or NAF; or ultra-low emitting formaldehyde, or ULEF.

7.) Salvaged stone, like granite or slate, and wood are the most sustainable and low-emitting countertop material options.

8.) Use low-VOC or Greenguard Gold-certified adhesives to install cabinets and countertops, or use mechanical fasteners instead.

9.) Use water-based, low-VOC finishes and sealers on cabinets and countertops.

Look for Greenguard Gold-certified products.

Read more about safe and healthy kitchen alternatives at EWG.org


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