The world's trusted guide to sustainable and ethical fashion

The world's trusted guide to sustainable and ethical fashion


The 10 Best Eco-Friendly Kitchen Countertop Options

When I was renovating my apartment, I wanted to make everything as eco-friendly as possible. In the kitchen, I chose cabinets with non-toxic finishes, but I wasn’t sure how to choose sustainable countertops. I was pretty stressed out, so I decided to just get a remnant, the leftover from a piece of stone that had already been cut from someone else. It was a lot more affordable, and using the leftovers is sustainable, right? (See the before/after pictures of my kitchen renovation.) So when CaraGreen, a building material distributor that identifies sustainable, eco-friendly materials to provide to home owners, architects, and businesses, sent over this article with so much useful info, I decided it deserved sharing. Hopefully it will help some homeowners like me make a better choice! 

For the most part, when an article comes out touting the “green” countertop options available on the market, it is woefully inaccurate. Often listing the same material multiple times in different formats, or completely misunderstanding the green claims of others, the lists just don’t stand up to reality.

CaraGreen, as a part of Modern Surfaces, has compiled a real list of the countertop options and the manufacturers whose true mission and goal is to create healthier surfaces, more durable surfaces, and divert waste from the oceans and landfills, creating something beautiful that you can feel good about.

PaperStone

PaperStone uses recycled paper and petroleum free resin. Comparable to steel in its strength, PaperStone is one of the most unique surfacing options out there.  Diverting millions of pounds of paper from landfill, this versatile material comes in multiple sizes and thicknesses, so it can be optimized for your project.  It can be cut on site, and is a DIY or remodeler’s ideal material.  It is easily cut with woodworking tools but holds up like stone.  A matte, organic finish make it a natural choice and great alternative to glossy stone finishes.

IceStone

IceStone uses recycled glass and concrete. As you toss that wine bottle into the recycling bin, you know that its destination could very well be in someone else’s kitchen as a countertop.  Hundreds of thousands of pounds of glass have been diverted from landfills, and, combined with concrete, and often mother-of-pearl, to create stunning IceStone slabs.  IceStone is 75% recycled glass by weight and is manufactured in Brooklyn, NY. It is Cradle to Cradle certified, and is a Certified B Corp.
Other Brands:  VetrazzoMerge Design

Durat

Plastic piling up? Durat is designed in Europe, but also manufactured in the US.  With up to 28% recycled content, over 200 tons of plastic have been diverted from the waste stream and repurposed into this bright, sleek solid surface.  Boasting an aesthetic unmatched by other solid surface providers, Durat is unique in its mission to bring Europe’s passion for protecting the environment to the US.

Lapitec Sintered Stone

Have to replace a stained or scratched surface? Sintered stone is hot on the heels of quartz.  And we say hot because that is how the slabs are formed.  Heat and pressure fuse the minerals into a completely impermeable surface and has integrated technology that kills harmful bacteria on the surface.  Unable to be etched or scratched, this is the surface that will last forever.  It also cleans the air.  Yes, that is right- it has an integrated titanium dioxide technology that breaks down pollutants.  Its use in the home is a no-brainer but as exterior cladding, it is going to help change the planet.

eco by Cosentino

What is the most eco-friendly quartz countertop?  Available in big box stores, eco by Cosentino is the company’s contribution to diverting waste, but Cosentino still pushes its primary line of non-recycled quartz. However, eco by Cosentino is 75% recycled content and includes materials such as mirror, glass, porcelain, earthenware and vitrified ash.  So, if you want something that looks like quartz, but has a better story, this is a good option.

GEOS

Also available in big box stores, recycled glass and resin surfaces like GEOS offer a more durable surface than some of the concrete options, but tend to lack the depth that the concrete based surfaces have, because they typically use petroleum-based, or epoxy resins.  A trade-off, though, is that the glass is still recycled and is not ending up in the landfill.
Other Brands:  Glass Recycled SurfaceGilasiGreniteCurava

TorZo

TorZo surfaces are ideal for vanity tops or table tops as they take wood or fiber-based materials that would otherwise be left behind and integrates an acrylic technology to make them ten times harder.  Materials like Sorghum board and Blue Stain Pine, often left as post-industrial refuse are revived into stunning surfacing materials, and still maintain the organic look of a wood based, natural product.  TorZo is also made in the USA.

Alkemi

Alkemi has been repurposing metal shavings into a clear resin for a very recycled look that showcases the metal shavings and really tell the tale of a recycled product.  On the market for nearly two decades, Alkemi continues to carve out a niche as a durable table top and vanity surface.

Photo Credit: Modera Sostenible

Reclaimed Wood

Using reclaimed woods for surfacing is a great idea if you don’t mind your counters ‘wearing in.’  If, from the outset, you accept the limitations of wood, this is a great option for a natural, organic surface that has a great story.

Photo Credit: Alair Homes Vancouver

Bamboo

If you find a viable supplier like Plyboo, ecoFusion or Kirei, bamboo can be a great surfacing option, as it is strong and economical.  Easily cut with woodworking tools, this makes a great vanity top or table top material. Like wood, it can be finished and will wear like wood over time, though it is harder than many hardwoods.  There are also a lot more color options and the strand products allow for less of that striated look that makes it look too “bamboo-like” if you don’t want that aesthetic.

There are likely some other options as well, but this is a good starting point for pulling together a true list of surfacing manufacturers that go beyond the story and truly have a mission of making the world a better and healthier place, starting where you spend the most time: at home.

 

This post was originally published in CaraGreen, a building material distributor that identifies sustainable, eco-friendly materials to provide to home owners, architects, and businesses.

Last Post

Weekend Reading: Don't Feel so Guilty About Eating Avocadoes

Next Post

The Unexpected Way Your Fast Fashion Wardrobe Is Sabotaging Your Career