In a comment a few days ago, Mazzajo wondered, “Perhaps I’m going OTT about this? If I intend to use a (new) item responsibly, then does it matter what the company does?? What do you think?” We can get a bit over the top sometimes in our quest to be as ecologically sensitive as possible. For example, we might drive ourselves crazy trying to figure out the “greenest” cutting board to buy to replace the skanky plastic mess of a cutting board we’re ready to relinquish. On the other hand, research can be fun. Maybe I obsessed a little too much over this decision or maybe obsessing is just part of what makes me me. In any case, here are the thoughts that led to this week’s cutting board decision:
Choice 1: A brand new Epicurean Cutting Surface like the professionals use. Pros: According to the company, “Epicurean Cutting Surfaces® are made with eco select paper from trees harvested under guidelines of the North America Sustainable Forestry Standards. 60% of the energy used to produce the raw material is from renewable energy.” The surfaces are knife-friendly and require no maintenance. Cons: The boards are “made up of layers of paper that are then soaked with phenolic resin and cured to create a solid sheet.” Not knowing what phenolic resin was, I looked it up. According to Wikipedia, it’s a combination of phenol (a toxic, colourless crystalline solid) and formaldehyde and is what the Bakelite, the very first plastic, was made from. Well, that didn’t sound terribly green to me.
Choice 2: A brand new cutting board made from a sustainable material like bamboo. Pros: Bamboo is rapidly-renewable. It restores itself in five years. Cons: Most of the bamboo cutting boards seem to come from China. Do I really want to use the energy to ship a cutting board from China? One I found made in the USA is a John Boos board that costs over $100! Not willing to pay that much for a freakin’ cutting board.
Choice 3: A brand new cutting board made from a local US-grown FSC-certified wood. These were harder to find than you’d imagine. I have searched and searched and can’t find any that are actually FSC-certified, although some claim to be made from well-managed forests. How can we know for sure?
Choice 4: A solid unfinished cutting board from an Amish workshop from “local sustainable wood.” Pros: the cutting board is made from one solid piece of wood, so no glues are needed to bond the pieces together. And it’s unfinished (“ready to be oiled in olive oil”), so there are no petroleum-based finishes. Cons: Whatever the wood is, a tree does have to be cut down. And the cutting board would have to be shipped to me from Ohio.
Choice 5: The board I finally chose was a Preserve cutting board made from Paperstone. It’s basically the Epicurean Cutting Surface, but instead of paper from new wood and phenolic resin, it’s made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper and non-petroleum-based resins. I bought it from Recycline’s booth at the Green Festival. Pros: No new trees died for this product. Yes, I’m sure it took more energy to make this cutting board than it did the solid carved Amish board, but I believe that if indeed we want our paper to be recycled here in the U.S., we should be supporting products made here from recycled materials and the companies who go into the business of recycling. So I chose to close that loop.