With expressions like Global Warming, Climate Change, Greenhouse Effect, and Sustainability being tossed around the news headlines every single day, an increasing number of people are paying attention to the effects of their own actions. People often connect these expressions to the activities of several industries and manufacturers. But, it’s not just them, we too are responsible – Simply put, whether it’s driving to work, cleaning your home, shopping for groceries or your everyday activities – in some of the other ways your actions are affecting the environment.
Now, coming to home-building and renovation, these days increasing number of people are considering eco-friendly and sustainable options. From eco-friending building materials to energy efficient lights, these days there is ‘n’ number of ways in which one can incorporate green features into their home making it highly sustainable and less harmful to the environment.
Do you follow any magazine, website or home design shows? If you do you would have noticed, that most of the projects shown (new construction or renovations) are often of the kitchen. Hence, it absolutely makes a lot of sense that homeowners would be interested in incorporating green features into this popular space. Cabinets, laminates, appliances, tiles, lights and the most important your Kitchen Countertop, designing a kitchen isn’t an easy task. Among all the decisions you need to make – Choosing a suitable material for your kitchen countertop is one baffling one.
Yes, deciding on the right material for your kitchen countertop where you’ll be preparing meals on for years is a huge decision, both in terms of cost and its impact on the aesthetics and practical functionality – more than that how green is it?
Conventional kitchen counter choices, which include laminate and engineered solid surfaces, can contain harmful chemicals which adversely affects the health of the inhabitants. And yes, Granite one of the most popular choices contains Radon (a radioactive gas that is commonly found in Granite). In addition to this, Stone irrespective of being a natural material is energy exhaustive to mine, shape, and ship.
Thankfully with so many beautiful green kitchen countertops options available these days, you will surely find a healthy and environment-friendly countertop to match your needs and budget.
Green Kitchen Countertops – 10 Most Amazing Options
Marble and granite countertops are the most common and desirable options, but quarrying natural stone is resulting in quick depletion of earth’s resources. Further came engineered stone which successfully imparted the most luxurious look for your kitchen, but its manufacturing process isn’t quite eco-friendly. The perfect compromise could be one of these Green Kitchen Countertops, which are made from a range of recycled materials.
1. Recycled Glass
Recycled glass countertops come in the form of surfaces fused together with cement or epoxy or in the form of tiles. These are available in a variety of different colours, and distinctive, flecked patterns.
- Pros – These are highly durable, scratch-resistant, low in maintenance, and are high in post-consumer recycled content.
- Cons – Epoxy used in few products can be petroleum-based and can contain harmful chemicals like phthalates. While these tiles can be recycled, removing them is quite challenging.
2. Recycled Aluminum
It’s not made from the aluminum foil that you use in your kitchen, but from the recycled aluminum scrap which is normally thrown away. So, instead of discarding such pieces, it is mixed with a polyester resin to create a smooth kitchen surface.
- Pros – Since mining metal is responsible for creating a lot of pollution, choosing recycled aluminum as your green kitchen countertops material is a great option.
- Cons – It is important to note, that resin or binders contain VOCs this can release harmful toxins to the environment and can be dangerous for the health of the residents.
3. Recycled Plastic
When we think plastic, we don’t really think Environment-Friendly, isn’t it? But there is plastic which can be recycled, hence choose a countertop which has a high percentage of recycled plastic. This is a less widely-available option. Green kitchen countertops made of plastic typically consist of recycled milk jugs, yogurt containers, and other post-consumer plastics. These are available in a variety of different colors and patterns.
- Pros – Kitchen counters made from recycled plastic contain varying amounts of recycled content. In addition to this, these are quite lower in cost than other few kitchen counter materials. These are highly durable and moisture resistant.
- Cons – These cannot withstand heat and are prone to scratch very easily.
Note: Traditional plastic countertops are not so green, this is because they use a lot of non-renewable resources in its production. So, choose a countertop that contains a high percentage of recycled plastic.
4. Wood, or Reclaimed Wood
Sustainably-sourced wooden kitchen countertops can be made from salvaged or recycled lumber or timber which is FSC-certified. Reclaimed wood is an exclusively sustainable option, this is because it demands no virgin materials. But again, recycled wood and lumber from sustainably managed forests also have comparatively low embodied energy.
- Pros – Wood as a material is quite durable and it can be quickly fastened mechanically, and there is no need for adhesives. In addition to this, when the wood is removed it can be easily reused for other projects, or shredded and used as mulch, or burned for heating purposes.
- Cons – Unless the surface treatment (e.g. varnish) is renewed periodically, wood is not suitable for wet applications, like areas around the sink in the kitchen. One cannot put hot pots directly on the surface of wooden kitchen countertops as it might destroy its finishing. It demands a bit of extra care and maintenance.
5. Recycled Paper
Typically, a paper composite means it made of recycled paper and other materials including wood combined with a binder i.e. cement or resin – The end result matches the look of natural stone. This is one of the most popular and cost-effective options in green kitchen countertops as it pushes the limits of environmental friendliness.
- Pros – These are hard and sturdy surfaces which can resist nicks and stains, in addition, these can also be sanded to eradicate scratches which do occur.
- Cons – Similar to all kitchen counters sealed with a finish or made with resins, putting hot items on such counters will sear it. Counters made with paper can reportedly survive heat up to 350 degrees, hence placing something that is moved directly from the stove to the counter can damage it.
This one material is also harder than many other hardwoods, hence makes for a great green kitchen countertops alternative.
- Pros – Bamboo is one of the most fast-growing building materials and forms a great renewable resource. Also, it doesn’t require harmful glues and can be easily molded into kitchen countertops with standard tools. In addition, it is quite reasonably priced as compared to the less-exotic stone products.
- Cons – Few forms of bamboo are quite susceptible to stains, nicks, cuts, and slices from utensils and other sharp objects. And, since most bamboo comes from China, there is a weighty transportation footprint.
These are crushed-up glass and stones, held together by a binding agent post which the countertop is buffed for a smooth surface finishing. Terrazzo can be coloured or stained for a custom finish which adds to its aesthetics.
- Pros – If the product is made locally, the cost of transportation can be eliminated. Recycled glass can also be used to make terrazzo countertops, this helps in eliminating energy which is needed to obtain new glass or stone. It is a great option as it has a very long lifespan.
- Cons – Watch out for the binding agents used as few can release VOCs (volatile organic chemicals). Such chemicals potentially release hazardous fumes into the air which can cause respiratory and visual issues. Another thing, terrazzo has a long-life span but it cannot be recycled, hence it ends up in waste.
Choosing A Material For Your Kitchen Countertop Is One Huge Decision
It’s a big decision, choosing the right material for your kitchen countertop both in terms of cost, practical function of the kitchen and its effect on the aesthetics.
But again, there is no one single green standard, and most of us are not experts. The best rule of thumb is to find answers to these:
- What Is In The Product?
- What Did It Take To Produce It?
- How Did It Get To Me?
- What Happens To It When I Am Done With It?
Using these four questions you can weigh out the options and decide what fits your needs and your desire to be environmentally responsible. Remember, a well-chosen kitchen countertop can make your kitchen much more useful and easier to maintain. And when you choose green kitchen countertops it helps the environment too.
We hope, the information we collated in this blog will help you make a good choice.