Modern Eco Friendly Countertops -- When considering a green kitchen or bathroom renovation, it is important to understand what makes a sustainable countertop and what materials are available.  Also a large portion of a kitchen renovation budget could be consumed by the countertop you choose to install.  Fortunately, eco friendly countertops are available for a range of prices; including do-it-yourself options that can save you thousands.

Many countertop materials such as granite and marble are mined.  Mining contributes to environmental hazards such as destruction of habitat and release of toxic chemicals.  In addition, when not controlled properly, mining can contribute to ground water contamination, erosion, and dust emission.  Many sustainable alternatives to these traditional luxurious materials are being developed and introduced to the market today. 

These sustainable materials provide the similar aesthetics compared to granite, and have been engineered to maintain similar hardness and heat resistance properties.  Many of these eco friendly countertops are made of recycled material.  Not all recycled products are environmentally responsible, however.  The manufacturing process that the recycled material is processed and composed in must also be sustainable.  Here is a list of countertop materials that have my approval for your sustainable kitchen renovation.

Recycled paper countertops (Corian Alternative) – these composite countertops are made from 100% recycled paper products.  The recycled paper fibers are mostly harvested from old cardboard boxes and shredded office paper, and are combined with an environmentally friendly resin that is usually made from the oils of nut shells or seeds.  The fibers and the resin are placed under a heat press producing a homogeneous, non-porous slab.  Recycled paper countertops usually have a smooth stone like texture and look, and come in a variety of traditional colors.  Special finishes and speckled ad mixtures can be applied to the slab to meet a desired aesthetic that some Corian may have. 

Recycled glass countertops
(Granite Alternative) – another countertop material with a high recycled content is recycled glass.  Recycled glass countertops are made from up to 85% recycled glass that can come from curbside recycling, old stained glass, traffic lights, building demolition and just about any other piece of trash that may include glass in its composition.  Although recycled glass countertops cannot create some of the unique aesthetics that mined granite produces, each slab is unique and has a story behind it.  However, the colors of any granite countertop can be matched by combinations of recycled glass making it a unique modern alternative to granite.

Wood countertops – I typically do not think of wood as a sustainable countertop material because it lacks the hardness and scratch resistant properties of the previously mentioned materials.  However, it is an aesthetic desired by some.  In any case, there are some beautiful wood options that are considered sustainable.  Among these options is reclaimed wood that is re-planed and finished with non VOC resins.  This alternative is sure to add a one of a kind, unique element to your kitchen or bathroom.  Other wood alternatives include Kirei board and bamboo.  Kirei board, made from the stalks of the sorghum plant, and bamboo, are two wood countertops made in a similar fashion.  They are sustainable because each plant grows quickly and requires zero clear cutting of old growth forests.  Each is made by layering the plants and pressing them with environmentally friendly resins.