Kitchen Cabinets


Green Bamboo Cabinets

Bamboo can be a very eco-friendly choice. As we have described in the flooring section, bamboo regenerates quickly and can be harvested without damaging the root system so it can grow and be gathered again and again. One thing to keep in mind when using bamboo products is to make sure that the bamboo is being harvested correctly. It is not good to pull a crop of bamboo before it is mature and if they are waiting the correct amount of time between harvests then there is no damage to the grass. Another fun fact is that the bamboo we use for flooring and cabinets is not the same bamboo that pandas eat, so you don’t have to feel like you’re stealing their food supply. With the many variations there are with stains and grains, bamboo is a great natural alternative from hardwoods for kitchen cabinets.

Wheat Board

Green Wheatboard Cabinets

The invention of wheat or straw board has been extremely important in the construction of greener kitchens. It is made out of wheat straw, a waste by-product of the farming industry. It is used to make a fiberboard that is similar to ply board. The wheat straw fibers are mixed with a resin. The resin used is formaldehyde free and the board ends up very lightweight. This makes it easy to ship. The boards themselves are also very moisture resistant and can hold screws and nails very well. Using this in kitchen cabinets instead of normal particleboard help make a kitchen more eco-friendly as well as save literally tons of waste in our landfills.

Kitchen Countertops


Concrete Counter tops

Concrete is a mix of cement, an aggregate (often sand) and water. Concrete on its own is not very green due to the energy costs incurred through shipping, but it can be made greener if it is created locally and fly ash is substituted for cement at 30-50%. There are so many different textures and colors that can be created with concrete that it is quickly becoming a popular material for kitchen countertops.


Laminate counter tops with taps

‘Green’ laminate does exist. In order to be considered eco-friendly, a manufacturer needs to use nontoxic glues to adhere a recycled plastic sheet to a formaldehyde-free substrate. Laminates come in many colors and are the most economical of all the kitchen countertops, however, it is not very durable and can be burned. As of 2009, there is only one company that makes “green” laminate counters and a link to their site is included at the bottom of this page.

Stainless Steel Counter

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel counters were once very popular in commercial kitchens, but now they are making their way into homes around the world. They are very durable and easy to clean, but most importantly they can often be found with high recycled content. Another positive fact is that when (and if) you decide to remodel the counters can be recycled again.

Paper Composite

Paper Composite (Solid Surfacing)

Paper Composite kitchen counters are slowly catching on as one of the greenest materials for countertops. Made from nearly 100% post consumer recycled paper and low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) resins it saves our landfills from a lot of waste. It’s hard to believe that paper can be strong enough for countertop construction, but it’s a durable material and it is scratch resistant. It also comes in many colors. The only draw back is that it is still fairly expensive, but keep an eye out for it. As it continues to rise in popularity there will be more manufacturers and the costs will come down.

Recyled Plastic Counter top

Recycled Plastic/Terrazzo

Plastic Composite is very similar to paper, but with recycled plastics and glass instead. Not all companies will use recycled materials. Before you buy be sure to ask how much of the content is recycled with post-consumer waste and if they use low VOC binders. Overall, this can be a highly green kitchen counter, especially if made by a local vendor.

Granite Stone Counter top


Stone is timeless and beautiful, but it is a natural resource that is not renewable. Because granite and slate are quarried in America you can find it domestically. Since it is highly durable you could have these counters for the life of your house. If you can find it locally, that is even better. Part of stone’s downside is that it is very heavy and shipping consumes a lot of energy. If you can find it, salvaged stone is available and that can be the greener choice.

Ceramic Countertop

Ceramic & Porcelain Tiles

Ceramic and porcelain tiles are made from clay, which is natural, but like granite is limited. It is durable and fairly low maintenance. If a tile breaks just replace the tile, not the whole counter. One thing to keep in mind is that it may need to be re-grouted every few years. Like all other stone-based products, you should look for locally manufactured tiles with high recycled content. Tile can be a beautiful way to update counters. This is actually one type of kitchen counter that can be a DIY’er. If you already have old laminate counters you can quickly update them by just laying tile on top. It’s about as green as you can get since you are creating no waste by reusing existing materials and you control the cost by your tile selection.

Paper Composite

Wood (Butcher Block)

Wood countertops can make a kitchen look beautiful and if you look for wood that has FSC certification, low-VOC sealants, and water-based finishes then you can have quite the green kitchen counter. Generally, butcher blocks are easy to clean and can be sanded as needed, however they can be damaged by water and stains over time.

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