Whether you’re working on a green building or remodeling project, you want to choose materials that appeal to the eye, that are durable, and that reduce your eco-footprint. With today’s wide range of choices, you don’t have to compromise on any of these desires. Here are 9 gorgeous green countertops recommended by some design and green living experts that show, sometimes, you can get everything you want.
PaperStone (Pictured above)
There are three series of paper-based PaperStone products:
1) ‘Original’, which is made from 50% post-consumer waste, recycled paper 2) ‘Certified’, the FSC, Smartwood and Rainforest Alliance-certified product which is made from 100% post-consumer waste paper. 3) ‘Virgin Series’ made from virgin fiber. We’ve used the Original and the Certified, both were outstanding. Gorgeous, deep colors. They almost look like stained (and sometimes textured) concrete.
Vetrazzo is a line of surface materials crafted from recycled glass and used anywhere natural stone is used; countertops, tabletops, flooring, architectural cladding and more. All of the glass used in Vetrazzo is recycled, and it makes up approximately 85% of the final material. Their largest source of glass is their neighborhood curbside recycling programs. (See if you can spot last night’s Heineken bottle…)
Other glass comes from post-industrial usage, windows, drinking glasses, stemware, automotive glass, stained glass, laboratory glass, reclaimed glass from building demolition, and other unusual sources such as decommissioned traffic light lenses.
Squak Mountain Stone is made from coal fly ash, recycled glass and paper, and low-carbon cement.
Ron and Lisa (aka The Healthy Home Dream Team)
If you love the look of granite, but want to avoid the pitfalls associated with it, quartz countertops are the way to go. Made from abundant quartz aggregate – along with binders and pigments – quartz countertops can mimic the beautiful look of stone, but with a virtually impermeable surface that requires no sealing. Even the lightest of colors won’t show stains under normal use. Manufacturers to check out include Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and Okite.
Once the standard for countertops in kitchens around the world, wood is experiencing a comeback thanks to its aesthetic appeal and renewable nature. Wood countertops are also more economical than most other options. Although wood mars more easily than most other surfaces, many people enjoy the look wood countertops acquire over years of use, and maintenance is as easy as a light oiling (with food grade oil), and the occasional sanding out of stains. Inexpensive versions made of beech can be purchased from Ikea, or, for a bit higher end look, Proteak’s FSC certified teak countertops are hard to beat.
When it comes to durability, ease of cleaning, and sleek styling, steel countertops are tops. Evocative of the professional chef’s kitchen, steel gives a crisp, modern look to a kitchen. Although durable enough to last for hundreds, if not thousands of years, your cabinets (and you!) aren’t likely to be around nearly as long, so the fact that stainless steel is also recyclable is an added bonus.
GreenWerks (Chicago’s Green Contractor)
Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles
Most porcelain and ceramic tiles that youâ€™ll see today contain percentages of recycled materials â€“ such as light bulbs, bottles, and â€“ well, porcelain and other kinds of ceramics. Theyâ€™re also commonly made using low-VOC adhesives, making them safer for use at todayâ€™s homes. Other eco-friendly advantages of porcelain and ceramic tiled kitchen countertops include: durability, heat resistance, easy cleaning, easy maintenance, and availability in a wide range of prices and styles.
Like ceramics and porcelain countertops, solid surface kitchen countertops contain pre-consumer recycled materials, recovered from the manufacturing process of other colors. They come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, and are typically made without any use of VOCs. Leading brands include DuPont Corian, Staron, Avonite, and Swanstone.
Engineered stone countertops are made from quartz particles (often too small for use in other industries), and feature qualities that are similar to granite. Easy to maintain, scratch-resistant, and available in a wide range of colors, engineered stone countertops are known for having a long life span. Environmental enthusiasts and eco-savvy homeowners will also be glad to know that plenty of engineered stone countertops are manufactured in a sustainable process and sealed without using chemicals and VOCs. Established brands include DuPont Zodiaq, Cambria Quartz, and Silestone.