When choosing a kitchen spare a thought for the planet and consider the green credentials and sustainability of the product you are looking at. One of biggest problems we face today is this idea of the ‘chuck-away culture’. Low cost, low quality, short use products - often manufactured in emerging economies thousands of miles away that end up in landfill. As with the likes of mobile phones that are designed to break or become outdated in a few years, many products are designed ‘not’ to last and thus perpetuate a market for endless replacement. To some degree this is also relevant in the world of the kitchen cabinet, so when I set out to design our cabinets I looked at all the elements of a normal kitchen that would deteriorate over time and engineered these defects out of the specification. By building a product that stands the test of time we also built a product that has an exceptionally low carbon footprint, due to the fact that it wouldn’t need replacing. From this starting point the materials chosen were from sustainable sources and ultimately renewable and recyclable. If we breakdown the key components of a typical Tomas cabinet we can see why the material is selected, why it is long lasting and why it is sustainable and recyclable.
The Carcase (cabinet).
Typically kitchen cabinets are made from MFC (melamine faced chipboard) and have edging. This is a low cost approach, but as the kitchen ages or is heavily used the edging may come away and doors start to drop as the fixings into the chipboard become loose and worn. This will potentially lead to the kitchen requiring replacement sooner rather than later. The Tomas carcase is constructed for melamine faced birch plywood. The plywood is incredibly strong and provides excellent an fixing for hinges etc. The edge is intentionally exposed to leap-frog the whole need for the aforementioned edging – which is an inherent weak-point. This feature is super practical and looks great, adding to the character and distinctive identity of a Tomas kitchen. Furthermore the plywood is, of course, from sustainable birch forests and is FSC accredited.
We chose to specialise in proper solid oak drawer boxes, They don’t feature plastic clips and bits and bobs that fall off and they don’t have those thin bases that may sag and drop out – I see this a lot on my travels! The centuries old dovetail construction method is certainly well tried and tested is insanely strong. The oak is from sustainable sources and is also FSC accredited. Needless to say they look stunningly beautiful and with a little care will improve with age.
The Doors and Panels
High density moisture resistant board (HDF) is chosen for its stability and workability. It also from sustainable sources and can be potentially be recycled. At this time of writing, water based paint technology isn’t quite at the level required for kitchen doors in terms of wear and chemical resistance. The paint we use is PU, however the VOCs are kept to a minimal level thanks to the use of the latest technology. The doors are finished by machines which keep wastage to a minimum and filtering to a maximum. The advantage of lacquered doors is that damages can be touched up, repaired and ultimately completely re-lacquered for ultimate longevity This cannot be said for lower cost laminated doors with edging. To go greener still natural wood veneered doors are an option.
By using the best state-of-the-art hardware, very little seems goes wrong – if it does replacing a hinge or a drawer is no trouble and would never require the rip-out of a complete kitchen.
Another consideration is locality. By sourcing you cabinets locally or at least made in Britain - none of the environmental impact of long distance shipping is an issue.
In summary (even if you don’t buy a Tomas kitchen) get the design right and go for the best you can get. Remember ‘cheap’ isn’t always ‘cheaper’ in the long run – as they say you’ll never regret buying quality.
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