The biggest question about using eco-friendly materials is whether they hold up to everyday life as well as their traditional counterparts. The answer? A resounding yes! The next question is, "What exactly constitutes a 'green' countertop?"
Green countertops are those manufactured from recycled or sustainable materials to help protect the environment. This includes:
- Bamboo, which is treated with a food-grade finish to make it food-safe.
- Recycled glass, pieces of glass mixed with porcelain or concrete and cast into slabs. Compare their usability to that of natural stone.
- Postconsumer paper waste, which is made by compressing paper into a solid block, then finishing it with a hard, natural resin. The result is a strong, sleek finish akin to wood.
- Resin-based panels that can be multicycled, that is, colored and recolored countless times, a characteristic that prevents down-cycling.
- High-density polyethylene (HDPE), a postconsumer plastic rescued from landfills. HDPE is available in an array of colors and textures and is comparable to solid-surfacing.
Any resin-based countertop material such as those made with recycled glass perform much like solid-surfacing. They are impervious to stains and water but can be scratched. Eco-friendly woods get their green status from either being saved from landfills or manufactured from sustainable resources. Like any wood surface used in the kitchen, these must be sealed to prevent stains, rings, and scratches.
Pricing runs the gamut for green countertop materials. Bamboo and recycled-paper countertops are on the low end, and recycled-glass and recycled-wood countertops can be almost double that. Recycled aluminum and other metals are the most expensive in this category.
- One man's trash is another man's treasure. If you're bent on going green but on a budget, consider other ways to be earth-friendly, such as repurposing items from salvage shops, university surplus auctions, going-out-of-business sales, and thrift stores. Old doors, furniture, and professional kitchen equipment will get a new lease on life when a creative homeowner sees beyond their current state to their future potential.