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Simple Green Cabinets bring sustainable design to kitchens and more

Pete Schoonmaker, owner of  Simple Green Cabinets, says his products are the most environmentally friendly on the Pittsburgh market.

So green in fact that, according to Schoonmaker, when a project reaches the end of its life expectancy you could bury an entire kitchen in the ground and not transmit any toxins into the earth. "It's all good stuff," he says.

While Simple Green Cabinets builds multipurpose cabinets, entertainment centers, bars, and does general contracting work, they primarily remodel kitchens, using materials that are non-toxic and locally sourced.

SGC’s plywood is formaldehyde-free, comprised of recycled wood fiber, and use only waterborne glues.  And while Schoonmaker says cabinet doors can be made of any material a client chooses, an emphasis is put on locally timbered wood.  Of the hardwoods Schoonmaker uses, 95% comes from Pennsylvania forests.

According to Schoonmaker, many other builders still use toxic lacquer wood finishes for cabinets, which often require EPA permits.  In contrast, he says SCG’s stains, paints, and clear-lacquers are all waterborne, safer to handle, and lack unpleasant, harmful odors.

Schoonmaker says choosing locally sourced materials, and locals builders, is increasingly important to his clients.

“People are wanting to build more responsibly,” he says. 

But being conscious of waste and resource usage also makes good business sense to Schoonmaker.

“We waste very little here --we don't waste time, we don't waste man power, and we don't waste resources,” he says.

Schoonmaker also donates his sawdust to urban gardens throughout the city.  A friend, who teaches art at a local university, takes SGC’s wood scraps for her students to work with.

“My point-of-view on being a sustainable company is if we are wasting, then we’re losing,” Schoonmaker says.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Pete Schoonmaker
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