You can find green countertops in dozens of materials, but not all them are the type of “green” that is environmentally friendly. Countertops made from renewable resources like recyclables or fast-growing organic materials are in demand as homeowners adopt a lifestyle that is more responsive to environmental needs.
If you’d like to install green countertops in your home, here is a list of today’s leading options.
Rather than demolished and sent to the land fill, old wood structures are being disassembled and much of the wood is being re-purposed. Counters made from old barn wood or salvage warehouse wood, for example, can be stunningly beautiful. Strengths: Beauty and durability. Weaknesses: Proper seal must be maintained to make the surface non-porous. May require refinishing in 10-15 years. May scratch, but scratches can be sanded out.
Waste glass is being diverted from the waste stream, crushed and bound with concrete or resin. Each recycled glass countertop is unique and artistic, durable and easy to clean. Strengths: Durability and variety of appearance, easy to clean. Weaknesses: Fairly expensive, may scratch.
Paper recycling has been going on for years. But only recently has it been pressed and hardened with resin, then formed into bath and kitchen counters. Paper Stone is one of the leading companies making these countertops. Paper Stone products feature 50%-100% post-consumer recycled paper. Strengths: Affordable, fairly durable. Weaknesses: Somewhat plain in appearance, can be scratched easily.
Recycled Tiles or Tiles made with Recyclables
Both use salvaged ceramic, glass, porcelain or other materials to make attractive kitchen and bathroom countertops that can be very good-looking. Strengths: Variety of appearance, easy to maintain. Can be very affordable. Weaknesses: May chip easily, depending on the specific material.
HDPE and other plastics are being salvaged and recycled into bathroom and kitchen countertops. They have the look of solid surface countertops like Corian. Strengths: Attractive and very durable. Weaknesses: Not very heat resistant, susceptible to scratches.
Stainless steel is being salvaged and re-purposed for countertops. These durable counters cost more than those made from non-recycled steel, but many homeowners are willing to pay extra to support the environment. Strengths: Easy to clean and maintain, attractive. Weaknesses: Can be scratched somewhat easily.
This fast-growing grass has the strength and beauty of wood. The bamboo can be formed into panel or the grain ends can be used to make a butcher block countertop. Strengths: Attractive and unique. Weaknesses: Not very heat resistant. Will need to be re-sealed periodically.
Made from sorghum straw, Kirei board has a very unique appearance. This is a sustainable, quickly renewable product. Strengths: Appearance is attractive and unique; Kirei is affordable. Weaknesses: None.
These are currently the most prominent green countertops you’ll find, but each year new kitchen and bath countertops are being produced that use recycled or salvaged materials, organic and inorganic. If you’re committed to reducing environmental impact in your building or remodeling project, there have never been more attractive, durable and affordable options for green countertops than there is right now.