by Elemental Green staff
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. 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 non-toxic 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.
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 counters are certified by the NSF as well as GREENGUARD-certified, with a Class 1 (A) Fire Resistance Rating.
Grenite 1.0 is Grenite’s finest surface. Improved by using 10 years of development and experience, the 1.0 upgrade of the original recycled glass countertop is prettier, stronger, and better. Cost competitive with other premium engineered surfaces, Grenite 1.0 has 80% recycled content with great resistance to staining, scratching, scorching and other wear and tear.
What makes Icestone green?
- Countertops made from recycled glass
- Factory is daylit 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
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 countertop 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 non-toxic pigments.
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.
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.
Award-winning ALKEMI-polyester is a recycled surface 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.
non-toxic, 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.
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—there’s no cost of upkeep for Cambria once it’s installed.
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.
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 daylit 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
Squak Mountain Stone’s fibrous-cement countertop is comprised of recycled paper, recycled glass, and low-carbon cement. The material is hand-cast into “slabs” as an eco-friendly alternative to natural or quarried stone. The Mountain Stone resembles soapstone or limestones, with a gorgeous textured appearance and feel.
Squak Mountain Stone contains at least 2.5% post-consumer recycled content and at least 49% post-industrial recycled content.
The Squak Mountain Stone Story
What inspired Squak Mountain Stone? A graduate school essay that proposed taking mixed waste paper from a local nonprofit recycling center and turning it into a beautiful product. But it’s not just the story that makes Squak Mountain Stone such a unique material — it’s the stone itself. It’s rustic. It’s varied. It doesn’t follow any of the “rules” established by modern countertop companies; you don’t “fix” it, you don’t dress it up, it won’t look seamless, and it most certainly will not look like it came from a cookie-cutter factory.
The appeal of Squak Mountain Stone is in the hand-made nature — its pastoral, honest aesthetic and the sculptural variability that makes each slab distinct. Even better, the product provides all of this with an affordable price, as well as the environmental benefits that come with a recycled product.
QuartzStone is a versatile non-porous surface resistant to flexing, abrasion and acids, and requires minimal maintenance. 94% of QuartzStone content comes from crushed waste stone 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 it’s low environmental impact, safe manufacturing process, and product consistency.
bringing new life to recycled glass
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, USA, 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.
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
- Use pre- and post-consumer recycled glass from local curbside recycling programs to reduce the company’s carbon footprint
Richlite is an FSC-certified product, made from post-consumer recycled paper. Sheets of paper are stacked up and saturated with a phenolic resin, then heat and pressure are applied. Heat and pressure cause the resin to set permanently with zero off-gassing.
Richlite has become a popular option for interior and exterior applications. The durable, waterproof material is perfect for kitchen and bathroom countertops. It’s seamless, gorgeous, and sustainable.
- Richlite is more heat resistant and sanitary than 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
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.
Durability, safety, and style
The Studio Collection 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 three-dimensional characteristics. But it still has the properties of solid surface: it’s thermoformable, durable, safe, and repairable.
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
- Made in the USA
Unfinished with strand bamboo face and traditional bamboo core
Teragren strand worktops are ideal for kitchen countertops, bathrooms, and more. With a beautiful hardwood-like grain on the surface and a striking traditional bamboo core, these unfinished worktops are ready to be fabricated and finished to your taste.
- Solid-surface design ideal for kitchen counters, islands, table tops or other furniture applications.
- Durable strand bamboo surface is twice as hard as maple. Due to its hardness, this product is not recommended as a cutting surface as it has a tendency to dull knives.
- Bamboo is harvested at maturity for peak density, creating a harder and more stable product for lasting beauty and performance.
Recycled and durable green countertops
ECO is an original product by Cosentino, manufactured from 75% of recycled materials such as mirror, glass, porcelain, earthenware and vitrified ash. ECO also has an extremely low rate of water absorption and porosity, making it an ideal material for bathrooms and kitchens. The result is a compact and hard surface highly resistant to impact, chemical products and scratches.
All manufacturing processes related to producing ECO surfaces comply with high environmental standards — Even 94% of the water used in its manufacturing process is re-used.
ECO surfaces are GREENGUARD and LEED-certified.
Responsible wood surfaces
Windfall Lumber makes beautiful, repeatable and dependable products, designed and made with care in Olympia, Washington. The majority of Windfall Lumber products are certified as FSC-Recycled, and Windfall is a U.S. Green Building Council partner.
Surfaces are made from a full variety of Pacific Northwest woods — reclaimed, salvaged, and FSC-certified, and they’re durable, functional, and fabulous to look at.
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%.
The SSK Architectural Series has zero off-gassing, and the laminate used in the Designer-MP Series reduces outgassing to a minimum.
No pollutants, chemicals, or contaminants are required to form or assemble any SSK product.
Unique and sustainable recycled surfaces
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.
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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