If you've ever shopped for a cutting board, you'll know it can be confusing, especially when trying to be environmentally conscious to make a positive impact. When buying an eco-friendly cutting board, the bottom line is to stay with untreated, natural materials as much as possible. We've learned that manufactured materials, like plastic boards, are incredibly harmful to the environment during and beyond the production phase. Below are a few helpful tips when deciding which cutting board is right for you.
- 👀 What To Look For When Choosing
- 👎🏻 Least Eco-friendly Cutting Boards
- 🌎 Top 3 Sustainable Materials To Consider
- #1 🌴 Bamboo is a Sustainable Cutting Board
- #2 🪵 Wood Cutting Boards are kind to your Knife and to the Environment
- #3 🔪 Rubber is an affordable and eco-friendly cutting board
- 👍🏻 Best Cutting Board Suggestions
- 💬 Comments
👀 What To Look For When Choosing
The key things to pay attention to when choosing a cutting board:
- Sustainability: Is it made with environmentally friendly material?
- Knife friendly: Will the cutting board dull my knife over time?
- Durability: Will it last without special care or maintenance?
- Dishwasher Safe: Can it be sanitized in a dishwasher, or need hand-washing?
- Design: Will it fit in your cabinet, counter, or drawer? Is it non-slip?
- Budget: does it fall into your budget if you need more than one?
👎🏻 Least Eco-friendly Cutting Boards
Let's immediately rule out the ones that are least kind to your knives and the environment:
- Glass cutting boards: Although they look nice, they are most damaging to blades.
- Hard or thin/flexible plastic cutting boards: Both have the advantage of being cleaned in the dishwasher, but they aren't made with eco-friendly material and are dulling to knives.
- Wood Fiber Composite cutting boards: Dulling to your knives and may contain toxic chemicals.
🌎 Top 3 Sustainable Materials To Consider
The three environmentally friendly materials that are top picks for cutting boards are Bamboo, Wood, and Rubber.
#1 🌴 Bamboo is a Sustainable Cutting Board
Bamboo cutting boards have become the eco-friendly answer of the new century. They look super cool and are lightweight but strong. Bamboo boards are tight-grained and dense, so they are easy to clean.
Bamboo is a hard grass. It's a sustainable, renewable resource without chemicals to thrive or harvest. And, because a bamboo board absorbs less liquid than wooden boards, many believe they are at least as sanitary as wooden boards.
- Moso bamboo outperforms all other bamboo and hardwood varieties in carbon dioxide absorption and oxygen production.
- The annual harvest of mature stems does not harm the mother plant, making it an endless resource.
- Moso is the most rapidly growing plant on the planet. It grows at an amazing speed of about 1 meter daily, assuring rapid regeneration.
There are a variety of designs and sizes to choose from to fit any budget now that bamboo cutting boards have become very popular. They do have to be cleaned by hand, though. High heat and excessive water exposure in a dishwasher will damage them, so it is best to hand wash with soapy water.
Bamboo is roughly 15 percent harder than traditional maple, which is harder on your knives. Also, the small grooves may ever-so-slightly catch your knife, interrupting a smooth cutting action.
#2 🪵 Wood Cutting Boards are kind to your Knife and to the Environment
Wood is a renewable resource, although not nearly as easily renewable as bamboo. Did you know that many cutting boards are made from waste wood (i.e., leftovers at the mill or carpentry that would have been otherwise thrown away?). Also, a heavy softwood board is kind to knives and will keep them sharper longer. And finally, a good maple or beech cutting board is somewhat self-healing, meaning it won’t scar as easily.
The Best Wood Choices for Cutting Boards
- Maple: Considered the best hardwood for cutting boards. Maple is resilient for wooden cutting boards; its tiny pores block moisture, bacteria, and stains. But, you must condition it every month or two with food-safe oil.
- Walnut: Its softer texture protects your knife blade even better than maple. Oil walnut boards every month or two.
- Beech: Offers excellent scratch resistance, second to maple. Demands oil each month.
- Teak: A tropical hardwood, it retains oil well, which prevents warping, and needs less upkeep - about every 3-6 months. But its high silica content dulls knives faster than other hardwood.
End-grain vs. Edge-grain
End-grain boards are with the end of the 2 X 4—where the grain is open, like a sawed-off tree trunk—for the top of your board. This is the easiest to identify of the three types because of its checkerboard pattern. End-grain cutting boards have the best antibacterial properties. Plus, it’s the most knife-friendly cutting board type – thanks to its checkerboard pattern of timber ends. End grain is usually the most expensive because it’s the most labor-intensive. But it’s also the kindest to your knives and will wear the longest.
Edge-grain cutting boards have a simpler construction than end-grain – parallel wooden boards fused long ways. As a result, these tend to be the more affordable option. The hidden grains need less upkeep than the end grains since the structure repels moisture. But, the rigid surface will dull blades more easily. Also, edge-grain boards won’t self-heal as effectively, which means a shorter lifespan.
You do have to regularly oil your board with food-grade mineral oil to protect it from staining or warping, and please don’t put it in the dishwasher. A well-cared-for wood board will last you for years and be worth the sometimes bigger price tag.
If your cutting board doesn't have rubber grips, place a wet paper towel or rubber matting underneath to keep it from sliding when chopping and dicing.
#3 🔪 Rubber is an affordable and eco-friendly cutting board
Most of us aren't familiar with rubber cutting boards. They are a great option if you steer away from plastic but want something affordable and eco-friendly.
Natural rubber is eco-friendly in its life cycle – from harvesting to production. It has some properties that make it favorable. According to ThinkingSustainably.com, these include:
- Naturally-sourced. Latex collected from rubber trees makes natural rubber products. The Para tree is grown through sustainable methods. It will help in balancing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
- Sustainable. The tree, which is the source, features a renewable feature. Should the tree deteriorate in producing latex, then you can replant it without any hassle.
- Non-toxic. Natural rubber comes from a natural source. The products contain no traces of petroleum, chemicals, or heavy metals that can harm human health.
- Biodegradable. Many companies derive natural rubber from natural/inorganic materials, making their products biodegradable. It will decompose into essential elements, primarily through weathering, without causing environmental damage.
Rubber may not be as pretty as wood cutting boards, but it has perks to compensate for those downfalls.
Rubber is non-porous. It won’t split, crack, or peel. It will absorb knife strokes instead of fighting back against them. This is safer for you and your knives. The board won’t absorb liquids, making it more resistant to stains and smells. It's also really easy to maintain. Rubber makes for a low-maintenance, non-toxic, and non-plastic cutting board material.
Tip : If you are a meat eater, buy a cutting board that has a juice groove that can catch the drippings when slicing meat. Also, designate a cutting board that will be used for cutting meat and one for vegetables.
👍🏻 Best Cutting Board Suggestions
Here are a few of TMF's best cutting boards for a home kitchen. Remember, they work well as a charcuterie board and serving tray when entertaining. Looking for a Christmas gift or a hostess gift? A great quality John Boos cutting board will make any home cook happy!
- Greener Chef Organic Bamboo Cutting Board. It is one of the best bamboo cutting boards in a two-tone design for convenient chopping. This heavy-duty original bamboo chopping board is also durable, environmentally friendly, and free of harmful chemicals.
- John Boos Block Classic Reversible Maple Wood End-Grain Chopping Block is made in the USA by skilled craftspeople using time-honored techniques since 1887. The butcher block is made from sustainably sourced, hand-selected Northern Hard Rock Maple Wood. It features end-grain construction.
- Notrax - Sani-Tuff Premium Rubber Cutting Board, Professional Grade, uses only 100% natural, high-density rubber – free from synthetics, dyes, and adhesives. Plus, it's NSF-certified for safety.
Check out our TMF's Resources for Knives and more eco-friendly product suggestions for your kitchen!