Image courtesy Cosentino
By Elemental Green staff
GO GREEN WITH SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS
One of the easiest ways to make a major statement in a kitchen or bathroom is by installing a stunning countertop that becomes the focal point of the room. But some of the most popular materials for countertops are not-so-eco-friendly and some come with a handful of health risks. Granite, for example, is a non-renewable resource and often has to travel long distances; plus, if not sealed properly, it can off gas radon, a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas (yikes). Porous surfaces, like concrete and some unsealed woods, can harbor bacteria. According to ConsumerReports.org, some surfaces may absorb these little lurkers even if they’re sealed.
Fortunately, common countertop materials aren’t the only options for making a breathtaking statement! Plenty of eco-friendly, recycled, and nontoxic options are available, and they’re equally as gorgeous as their conventional counterparts—maybe even more so. You’re sure to find a sustainable countertop that catches your eye in our collection of 15 fabulous eco-friendly countertops, in every color and style.
SUNLIT DAYS BY SILESTONE
In a renewed and heightened commitment to sustainability, Silestone launched its most sustainable collection yet: Sunlit Days. Developed using the brand’s exclusive HybriQ® technology, Sunlit Days is manufactured using 99% reused water, 100% renewable electric energy, and a minimum of 20% recycled raw materials in its composition, making it a carbon neutral collection and exhibiting the brand’s commitment to circularity and waste management. (Of note, parent brand Cosentino launched its own Waste Management and Recovery Plant in 2008, and has since revamped these facilities to ensure the long-term storage and treatment of waste generated.)
As opposed to traditional quartz surfaces, the collection’s HybriQ technology employs a hybrid formulation of premium minerals, quartz and recycled glass (from bottles or windows) that allows for a 50 percent reduction of crystalline silica, and up to 90 percent in some colors. The result is a smooth suede-like finish that maintains the same quality and hygiene certifications as its previous counterparts. (Silestone is certified by the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute, fulfilling the quality regulations for the indoor use of volatile organic compounds. The material also holds other certifications confirming its commitment to the environment and health and safety such as the ISO 14001 and the NSF.)
Recognizing sustainability and responsible manufacturing as a necessity, Cosentino is also committed to offsetting all greenhouse gas emissions for the collection’s lifecycle in partnership with the Voluntary Carbon Market.
Comprising a color palette inspired by the shades and nature found in the Mediterranean region—Cala Blue, Posidonia Green, Faro White, Cincel Grey, and Arcilla Red—the Sunlit Days collection pays homage to another sustainable endeavor. Cosentino has partnered with Equilibrio Marino, a nonprofit group of divers, scientists and marine enthusiasts working to clear the Mediterranean Sea of record-level microplastics, nets, and other waste currently harming the ecosystem. In other words, your countertops can help bring sustainability to the surface in more ways than one. Image courtesy Cosentino
DEKTON SINTERED SURFACE
Dekton’s large-format slab surfaces, which blend together raw materials of glass, quartz and porcelain, resist UV-rays, abrasions, stains, and thermal shock from heat or frozen items, making them durable, easy-to-care for solutions for a variety of applications. Using exclusive Sinterized Particle Technology, these raw materials are subjected to high temperature and pressure (sintered) to create a very dense and durable surface.
The Avant-Garde series features three colorways that take their cues from natural stone: Laurent, a rich chocolate brown with gold veining nodding to the Moroccan marble Port Laurent; Helena, a translucent combination of white and gray inspired by onyx; and Khalo, a coffee-colored, black and gold surface inspired by Patagonia, a Brazilian mix of granite and quartzite. The former is part of the Dekton Natural Collection, and the latter two are part of the Dekton XGloss Stonika Collection. Both celebrate nature but the XGloss finish does so with a little extra luster.
As part of parent company Cosentino’s ongoing sustainability efforts, the brand has received an Environmental Product Declaration for Dekton, offsets its emissions rendering Dekton a carbon neutral product, and implements Corporate Social Responsibility policies in support of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Image courtesy Cosentino
TERAGREN BAMBOO COUNTERTOPS
Out of all 1,500 species of bamboo, Moso is one of the hardest, comprising dense fibers that make it ideal for multiple lumber applications. That’s why Teragren uses it to manufacture a variety of bamboo surfaces, including countertops. Teragren has cultivated close relationships with family farmers in the Zhejiang province of China and is able to harvest the material by hand (at peak density to ensure strength and durability) and manufacture its products locally.
Teragren’s products have several attributes that qualify for LEED certifications. For one, bamboo is known for capturing and sequestering carbon; therefore, these countertops are carbon-negative during the manufacturing process. And they remain that way when they get to your home thanks to thoughtful means of ocean and rail transportation.
Ideal for kitchens and bathrooms, the countertops come in traditional bamboo or strand bamboo with a traditional bamboo core. With a surface that’s twice as hard as maple, they offer lasting beauty and performance, but it’s suggested you don’t cut on them due to the material’s potential to dull knives. They’ll arrive unfinished and can be fabricated to your taste.
CAMBRIA NON-POROUS STONE SURFACES
When you look at many of the designs offered in Cambria surfaces, you would swear that it is natural stone. Cambria’s manufacturing techniques are effective in showcasing grain, mineralization, color variations across a slab. You can even mix and match different patterns to create a up to the minute look.
NONTOXIC, FAMILY-SAFE AND GORGEOUS STONE SURFACES
All Cambria surfaces are certified by GREENGUARD as a low-emitting product for indoor air quality, making Cambria suitable even for school environments. Cambria has also been tested for radon by Air Quality Sciences, Inc. These tests have independently confirmed that Cambria surfaces have no harmful emissions of any kind.
And, Cambria is made for those who truly love to cook. Because it’s nonporous and nonabsorbent, it won’t draw in moisture from raw or leftover food, which can harbor harmful bacteria. It gives off zero emissions, and no radon. This is one of the safest stone surfaces for food preparation.
CARING FOR CAMBRIA IS EASY
Just use warm water and mild soap to clean Cambria surfaces. Unlike granite and marble, quartz doesn’t need periodic sealing, polishing or reconditioning. You won’t have to work with messy oils or dangerous chemicals. Cleanup is fast and safe for your family. Image courtesy Cambria
PAPERSTONE RECYCLED PAPER AND RESIN
PaperStone is a beautiful and heavy-duty solid surface known for its performance, warm touch, contemporary appearance, and environmental sustainability. Its non-porous surface is made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper and a proprietary, petroleum-free resin that provides a lifetime of stain resistance. Also, it absorbs virtually no water.
PaperStone isn’t just an attractive new material that is produced in a socially responsible manner. It’s also strong and durable. It has steel-like strength in span, stone-like beauty, and it can be worked like fine hardwoods.
WHAT MAKES PAPERSTONE GREEN?
- Countertops are made from recycled materials
- Factory is day-lit with sky lights, reducing energy consumption
- State-of-the-art water recycling system filters 98% of manufacturing water
- Any unusable glass or cement is recycled into roadbed
- Goal is to become a zero-waste facility; they currently recycle over 90% of waste
RICHLITE COMPOSITE SURFACE
Richlite is an FSC-certified product, made from post-consumer recycled paper. Sheets of paper are stacked up and saturated with a phenolic resin, and then heat and pressure are applied. Heat and pressure cause the resin to set permanently with zero off-gassing. It’s also GREENGUARD-certified and listed on the Declare transparency platform, and the energy produced during the manufacturing process gets recycled into their heating system.
Richlite has become a popular option for interior and exterior applications. The durable waterproof material is perfect for kitchen and bathroom recycled countertops. It’s seamless, gorgeous and sustainable.
A HISTORY OF INCREDIBLE DURABILITY
First used in 1943, the U.S. military made drop boxes out of Richlite. Because these boxes were dropped from supply planes, they needed to be durable and waterproof. Because of Richlite’s durability and the way that it machines just like metal, Boeing Airlines has used Richlite for machine parts on their airplanes. The material has also been used for skate ramps, due to its smooth, flexible makeup.
- Richlite is more heat resistant and sanitary than many other solid surfaces, yet warmer to the touch
- Unlike darker acrylic and polyester products, Richlite will not scratch white over time
- Richlite is much harder than wood and will not chip; most impact-resistant option for counters
GRENITE RECYCLED GLASS COUNTERTOPS
The concept upon which Grenite products are built is simple: take something worn and old and make it something beautiful, useful and new. With a unique beauty and unmatched performance, Grenite is the surface of choice for many eco-conscious organizations.
Grenite has an extensive line of surfaces: using recycled quartz, glass, and/or acrylic. With so many choices, you are sure to find a look that matches your vision. Cost competitive with other premium engineered surfaces, these products have great resistance to staining, scratching, scorching and other wear and tear. And, Grenite counters are certified by the NSF as well as GREENGUARD-certified, with a Class 1 (A) Fire Resistance Rating.
VETRAZZO RECYCLED GLASS COUNTERTOPS
Vetrazzo is composed of a patented formula that combines recycled glass with a binder of additives, pigments, and other recycled materials. All of the glass used in Vetrazzo is recycled, and it makes up approximately 85% of the final material. Vetrazzo’s largest source of glass is neighborhood curbside recycling programs. Other glass comes from post-industrial usage, windows, drinking glasses, stemware, cars, stained glass, laboratory glass, reclaimed glass from building demolition, and other unusual sources such as broken traffic lights.
HANDCRAFTED WITH CARE
Each Vetrazzo slab is proudly produced by hand in Tate, Georgia and each is a masterpiece of engineering, design, and sustainable development. The precious sources of glass are carefully chosen in a process that calls for painstaking research and meticulous quality control.
The pieces of glass are introduced into the composite and placed by hand to ensure the smooth, uniform surface that enhances the beauty of the finished product. Each Vetrazzo slab is a unique, artisan-made product that has been handled with care and expert attention to detail.
BRINGING NEW LIFE TO RECYCLED GLASS
Vetrazzo has always been eco-friendly. In fact, back when “green” was just a color and not a sustainable development term, Vetrazzo was already using glass refuse to create stunning surfaces.
- Committed to highest sustainability standards
- Engineers are always looking for ways to integrate new glass sources and other materials, such as sea shells
- Uses pre- and post-consumer recycled glass from local curbside recycling programs to reduce the company’s carbon footprint
ALKEMI RECYCLED SURFACES
ALKEMI recycled surfacing materials are certified by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), a leading organization in the evaluation of sustainable materials. SCS confirms that ALKEMI acrylic contains 84% to 97% post-industrial scrap waste materials containing aluminum, copper, solid surface and acrylic. In addition, ALKEMI surfaces qualify for LEED certification points.
Renewed Materials, Inc., producer of ALKEMI surfaces, is a proud member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit organization committed to expanding sustainable building practices. Member organizations work to advance structures that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy places to live and work.
Award-winning ALKEMI-polyester is a recycled countertop material composed of post-industrial scrap waste (34% by weight—as certified—or 60% by volume). ALKEMI-polyester is made from fine flake aluminum milling scrap, which commonly burns up as a heavy smoke pollutant when exposed to conventional aluminum recycling. But recycled into an ALKEMI surface, the scrap leaves no hazardous footprint.
Available in a variety of designer colors and surface aesthetics, ALKEMI-polyester is strong, durable and beautiful. This countertop offers a brilliant, sustainable alternative to the stagnant commercial material options such as plastic laminate.
ALKEMI-acrylic is a beautiful and sustainable surfacing alternative, made using pre-consumer waste aluminum and copper flake, solid surface scrap, and recycled acrylic. With no VOC content, ALKEMI-acrylic is safe for people and friendly to the environment—EPA-approved testing of ALKEMI-acrylic shows no notable traces of volatile compounds. ALKEMI-acrylic is a testament of the company’s commitment to continually develop and bring to market the most innovative, design-driven, eco-friendly, and sustainable materials.
ICESTONE RECYCLED GLASS AND CEMENT
IceStone began in 2003 with a simple concept: transform waste glass into something beautiful. To date, IceStone has diverted over 13 million pounds of glass from landfills, and their signature recycled glass and cement products remain an icon of the new recycled countertops industry.
IceStone is manufactured in a state-of-the-art facility in the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard using just three core ingredients: 100% recycled glass, Portland cement, and nontoxic pigments.
WHAT MAKES ICESTONE GREEN?
- Countertops made from recycled glass
- Factory is day-lit with sky lights, reducing energy consumption
- State-of-the-art water recycling system filters 98% of manufacturing water
- Any unusable glass or cement is recycled into roadbed
- Goal is to become a zero-waste facility; currently recycle over 90% of waste
QUARTZSTONE CRUSHED STONE COUNTERTOPS
QuartzStone is a versatile non-porous surface resistant to flexing, abrasion and acids, and requires minimal maintenance. Ninety-four percent of QuartzStone content comes from crushed stone waste left over in quarries or from natural stone beds. Slabs are manufactured using the state-of-the-art Breton™ system that is used to manufacture most high-end engineered stone products and known for its low environmental impact, safe manufacturing process, and product consistency.
STUDIO COLLECTION RESIN COUNTERTOPS
The Studio Collection by Aristech is a specialty surface, unmatched in depth, clarity, and color-fueled design options. Made from a proprietary resin blend, this product is unique from other surface products for its luminous and 3-dimensional characteristics. But it still has the properties of a solid surface: it’s thermoformable, durable, safe, and repairable. Images courtesy © Aristech Surfaces LLC
DURABILITY, SAFETY AND STYLE
Many customers are now looking to use the Studio Collection as an alternative to glass, porcelain, recycled glass, and other high-end surfaces because of its durability, repairability, seamless look, and unique aesthetic.
- Translucency gives a 3-dimensional quality and backlighting is possible for a dramatic effect
- Safe, hygienic and NSF Certified: inconspicuous seams leave no place for bacteria to hide
- Thermoformable for curved and custom applications
- Up to 40% recycled–SCS Certified
- GREENGUARD Gold-certified
- Made in the USA
WINDFALL FSC-CERTIFIED WOOD COUNTERTOPS
Windfall makes beautiful, repeatable and dependable lumber products, designed and made with care in Olympia, Washington. The majority of Windfall lumber products are certified as FSC-Recycled. And, you’ll find no or low-VOCs in their finishes and stains, so you can breathe easy while enjoying your meals. Windfall is a U.S. Green Building Council partner to boot.
Surfaces are made from a full variety of Pacific Northwest woods including reclaimed, salvaged and FSC-certified. And they’re durable, functional and fabulous to look at.
STAINLESS STEEL KITCHENS, INC.
Stainless Steel Kitchens Inc.’s stainless steel countertops are constructed from 18-gauge finish stainless steel and backed with 5/8”-thick marine plywood to give you the highest quality in sanitation, appearance and durability.
With optional integral sinks, integral backsplashes, cutouts for range tops and/or drop in sinks, radius corners and more, Stainless Steel Kitchens can provide you with the perfect countertop for your kitchen. The steel’s finish will complement almost any stainless steel appliance, and all welding is ground and blended to a satin finish.
Stainless Steel Kitchens Inc. is a proud member of the U.S. Green Building Council.
Seeking an environmentally safe countertop, with no adverse effects on the environment or the people in it? Stainless steel may be the perfect option. It’s recyclable, doesn’t emit any pollutants, and is ideal for individuals with chemical sensitivities.
Recycled and Recyclable: All of SSK’s stainless steel includes recycled material. The recycled content of stainless steel is 65% to 80%, and the recycle rate for stainless is 60% to 85%.
Nontoxic: The SSK Architectural Series has zero off-gassing, and the laminate used in the Designer-MP Series reduces outgassing to a minimum.
Green Manufacturing: No pollutants, chemicals, or contaminants are required to form or assemble any SSK product.
DURAT 100% RECYCLABLE COUNTERTOPS
Durat’s solid surface contains recycled post-industrial plastics and is 100% recyclable. The countertop is available in more than 70 vibrant colors; plus, custom colors can be tinted to order. Additionally, Durat surfaces can contribute to LEED certification.
UNIQUE AND SUSTAINABLE RECYCLED SURFACES
Durat is a polyester-based solid surface material which contains about 30% recycled material and is 100% recyclable. The recycled post-industrial waste is granulated into small speckles giving Durat its distinctive texture.
Durat is extremely durable and can be renewed by slight sanding. The material is very resistant to wear, humidity, and various kinds of chemicals. Easy maintenance and hard-wearing properties make Durat an ideal material for bathrooms and kitchens.
Sustainable Countertops for Every Style
At Elemental Green, we love to see earth-friendly alternatives to conventional building materials, and these gorgeous countertops are an excellent example. No matter the style of bathroom or kitchen you’re aiming for, there are plenty of sustainable countertop options to choose from – and as you can see, it’s totally possible to make a dramatic statement with your countertops while keeping it green.
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