Whether you are remodeling your kitchen or designing the kitchen for your new home, chances are good that you have been considering green or earth-friendly choices when it comes to flooring, appliances, and more.
You can also make eco-conscious choices when it comes to the countertops that you select. Keep the following in mind when contrasting the advantages and drawbacks of various materials that are on the market when selecting your kitchen countertops:
How is the material made? Is the material renewable? Is the material recyclable or even made from recycled or salvaged material? If the material is harvested or mined, how was the process managed?
For instance, the procedure used to mine the metal that is used in manufacturing stainless steel kitchen countertops uses a lot of energy and can cause pollution, even though stainless steel can be recycled easily.
How is the material manufactured? Materials that are processed less obviously use less energy to make and thus have less of an environmental impact.
For instance, ceramic tiles that must be fired twice in the kiln take a great deal of energy to produce.
How far does the material need to be transported to reach your retailer, building contractor, or you? There is a direct relation between the number of miles a product travels to reach you and the amount of pollution that is released into the air from burning fuel.
The greener choice is one that travels less than five hundred miles to get to your door. And of course, the farther it has to travel, the more it is going to cost. When possible, buy locally crafted materials.
Is the material free from VOCs, formaldehyde, and other chemicals? These toxins can leach from the countertop during its lifespan, so be careful and choose wisely.
Where will my countertop end up at the end of its life? Can the countertop be recycled or reused? Can it be down-cycled into some other product? Will it likely end up in the landfill?
Choose a material that can be kept out of the landfill for some other purpose. For example, concrete countertops can be crushed and used for new concrete.
Top Green Countertop Choices
So which is best? Each countertop material has its own negatives and positives, drawbacks and advantages. Terrazzo is a growing choice among many homeowners.
Terrazzo, which is recycled glass and crushed stone that is set in an epoxy substrate or cement and then buffed smooth, can last for four decades or longer. It is low-maintenance and very aesthetically pleasing.
Laminates made with recycled plastic and paper is also a good choice. Recycled laminate is widely available, relatively inexpensive, and a cinch to maintain, although it can be damaged easily by heat.
Locally mined granite is a beautiful and durable choice, although it is not available in all states. As always, salvaged countertops are a great choice; they cut out not only the manufacturing process but the recycling process as well.
This is important because it keeps a product out of the landfill. With the growth of the green movement, there are many recycled building material stores springing up, so chances are good that you wont have to go far to find salvaged building supplies, like countertops, in your hometown.