There are several things that I look for in a green cabinet. I look for cabinet boxes free of urea-formaldehyde. Particleboard or fiberboard, such as Medite II, and plywood are acceptable materials, provided they are formaldehyde-free. It's even better if the particleboard has a high recycled content. Medite II is made of 100-percent post-industrial recycled fiber.
The solid wood parts of the cabinet and the wood veneers should be FSC-certified, or a rapidly renewable species such as German beech. The cabinet finishes should be of an ultralow-VOC-content material, no more than 150 g/L (grams per liter). (Just because a finish is water-based doesn't mean it's low-VOC.) The adhesives used should also be low-VOC.
Find out whether the manufacturer operates its facilities in an eco-friendly manner. Labels to look for include the Composite Panel Association's EPP (Environmentally Preferable Product) Downstream certification and the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association's Environmental Stewardship Program seal.
There are several manufacturers that make green kitchen cabinets. The "Breathe Easy" line of cabinets, made by Greenway Cabinetry in New York State, is available near you at the Green Depot in Stoneham, Mass. GreenQuest, made by Crystal Cabinets in Minnesota, is a fully customizable line of cabinetry that is also truly green. GreenQuest is available in Massachusetts through Crystal Cabinets representative David Landry.