Perhaps the most luring kitchen improvement is replacing countertops. If you’re replacing your kitchen countertops, it’s smart to go green whether you’re on a tight budget or can afford something luxe. These days, sustainable materials are just as good-looking as traditional countertops like granite or quartz, so making a green choice won’t ding your home’s resale value.
What’s green? Green kitchen countertops feature recycled or sustainable content, low-toxicity binders, eco-friendly manufacturing processes, or a combination. Local production is good, too, if you can arrange it, because transporting countertops is a big fuel-guzzler.
But the most important thing is to pick something durable — if you never have to buy new countertops again, that’s as green as it gets.
These three green kitchen countertop options earn high marks for durability and style. And for value, compare them to the ubiquitous slab granite, which costs $60 to $100 per square foot.
1. Recycled Paper Countertops
It may seem counterintuitive to use paper for a countertop, but when you bind paper fibers with resin, it makes a surface that’s tough as nails. What’s more, they tend to be easy to install. Since installation can equal 80% of your total cost, expect to save on labor.
- PaperStone is a brand that meets Forest Stewardship Council certification requirements for materials made with sustainable forest management practices and is VOC-free.
- Squak Mountain Stone is made from recycled paper, recycled glass, reclaimed fly ash, and cement; the finished countertop slabs resemble limestone and soapstone.
- EcoTop countertops consist of renewable bamboo fiber, post-consumer recycled paper, and water-based resin glue.
|Cost||Starts at $30 per square foot
And, easy install = labor savings
|Lifespan||TBD because new on the scene, but likely a long time.|
2. Reclaimed Wood Countertops
Reuse trumps recycling when it comes to conserving resources because it keeps products from entering the waste stream. So salvaged wood countertops are green by definition. Purchase them directly at a local salvage supply or through a manufacturer that uses reclaimed materials.
Starting at $40 per square foot, manufactured countertops made from reclaimed wood are typically more expensive than regular butcher block.
Wood’s a beauty. But it’s prone to water damage, needs occasional re-sealing (or frequent applications of mineral oil, which can be a hassle), and shouldn’t be installed directly next to a sink or dishwasher. So you’ll need to budget for a second material to use in your kitchen.
- Craft-Art includes a line of wood countertops made of reclaimed wood from older barns, warehouses, and commercial buildings.
- Endurawood fashions wood countertops from reclaimed fir and oak, including old wine vats.
|Cost||Starts at $40 per square foot|
3. Recycled Glass Countertops
Recycled glass is gorgeous and tough (you can actually set hot pots directly on it) — but you’ll pay a price comparable to slab granite, starting at around $50 per square foot and going much higher.
- Vetrazzo makes countertops that are 85% recycled glass. Almost all the glass comes from curbside recycling programs.
- IceStone, which is 100% recycled glass in a cement substrate, meets Cradle to Cradle gold certification standards, meaning the products contain no problematic chemicals, the materials can be reutilized, and 50% of manufacturing was done with reusable energy
Karin Beuerlien contributed to this article.