The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

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« Designing Green Kitchens 101 | Main | Sustainable Design and Living »

Green Kitchen Countertops

Let's take a look at what's in the marketplace for green kitchen countertops! There is a surprising selection of materials, many of which are made from recycled materials. One of the principles of designing green is to buy for durability as well as for the long term. To that end, these materials should, ideally, be sampled before purchase, with a variety of products, such as:


red wine
worscestershire sauce
balsamic vinegar
lemon juice

I would also recommend that you use sharp objects on the samples (except wood!) to determine hardness, scratch resistance, and so on. I strongly recommend living with samples under similar kitchen task conditions for a little while. It's important to see how products hold up before you purchase them! Looking at where the products are produced and their transportation path to your home is another consideration which goes along wtih any product under consideration. Following is a good start at a list of green countertop sources.

Squakstone.jpgShetkastone.com  Shetkastone is a revolutionary product that has a 100% sustainable life cycle. Products that are produced from shetkaSTONE are manufactured from pre and post consumer waste paper and rely on using none of the Earth's overtapped resources. All by-products (waste created in the manufacturing process) can be recycled back into the manufacturing process.

Eleek   Eleek Recycled Aluminum Countertops are designed specifically to fit standard kitchen countertops. They are custom made to your specifications. Frontwrap, sidewrap and backsplash features can be built in, creating a sleek, modern integrated surface.

Lithistone  Environmentally appropriate technologies are combined to create our proprietary mixes, which consist of a natural mineral binder, different grades of sand and stone, recycled material, and organic mineral pigments. Lithistone can be customized to meet virtually any specifications with regards to size, shape, colors, and textural variations.

Squak Mountain Stone  A Fibrous-cement material comprised of recycled paper, recycled glass, coal fly-ash and Portland cement. Material is hand-cast into “slabs” as an alternative to natural or quarried stone. Resembles soapstone or limestones.

Trinity Glass Products   Recycled glass and concrete countertops

Eco-top  EcoTop is composed of a Forest Stewardship Council-certified 50/50 blend of bamboo fiber, a rapidly renewable resource, and recycled wood fiber salvaged from demolition sites. These materials are bound together by a water-based resin formula that is both petroleum-free and VOC-free. Because of this, EcoTop products can earn you up to six points on your next LEED project.

icestone_tuscan_sunset.jpgIceStone  IceStone® durable surfaces are strong like granite, not as porous as marble and heat-resistant like stone. The chemical composition is benign and 99.5% inorganic making it a very safe material from the standpoint of toxicity and fire resistance. Due to its high recycled content and Cradle to Cradle Certification, IceStone® materials can be used towards LEED points.

EnviroGlas  EnviroGLAS Terrazzo is made of post-consumer and post-industrial recycled glass.  Over 40 billion glass bottles are made every year, and 75% of them wind up in landfills.  Many municipalities have stopped collecting glass for recycling due to a lack of market.  We offer a solution to that problem. Each EnviroGLAS product is about 75% recycled glass and 25% binder by volume.

Richlite  Richlite Company, a manufacturer of paper-based countertops, offers a collection of warm and natural-feeling surface materials that breathe new life into the kitchen, bath and office. Richlite’s® unique paper surfaces bring a soft and comfortable ambience to a room that's rarely achieved through cold, hard stone and plastic solid surfaces. It’s made from environmentally sustainable resources and is an attractive, durable, long-lasting material that complements a variety of design tastes.

syndcrete.jpgAvonite  Avonite's solution has been to adhere to the principles of sustainable design - the art of designing and constructing building which comply with the principles of economic, social and ecological sustainability and conservation. Widely acknowledged as an innovator in solid surfacing, Avonite Surfaces has leveraged that excellence to create ecologically sound products which are cost-effective and elegant.

 Alkemi  Made from 60% post industrial aluminum waste and resins. It is strong and exquisitely beautiful to the eye. Surfaces may sanded and buffed to a matte or high gloss.

Vetrazzo  All of the glass used in Vetrazzo is recycled, and it makes up about 85% of the total material. Most of the glass comes from curbside recycling programs. Other glass comes from windows, dinnerware, stemware, windshields, stained glass, laboratory glass, reclaimed glass from building demolition, traffic lights and other unusual sources. Every Vetrazzo surface has its own history. Due to its high recycled content, using Vetrazzo can help your project qualify for LEED certification. 

Pine%20Wood%20Species1new.jpgCraft-Art Company  Wood countertops and reclaimed wood. Eight new reclaimed wood countertop options are now available from Craft-Art.  The use of beautiful wood from the 1800s and 1900s, eco-friendly and functional, supports the goal to recycle the Earth’s resources as part of the sustainable building movement. Barn Red Oak, Chestnut, Beech, Heart Pine, Cypress, Barn White Oak.

Endura Wood Products  Endura Wood Products offers a wide variety of certified and rediscovered woods and wood products for homes and business. We believe that sourcing and offering only certified and rediscovered forest products is the best way to insure that our children can still see -- and use -- both the forest and the trees.

Syndcrete  Natural cement based, pre cast product, green/sustainable, high recycled content, chemically inert, no off-gassing, aggregates: post consumer bottle glass, tempered glass, wood chips, metal shavings, shells, more. Contributes from 2-8 LEED points. 

Bio Glass  Glass is made of almost 100% crystalline silica in the form of quartz containing 70-72% weight % silicon dioxide. Bio-Glass consists of 100% recycled glass. Bio-Glass colors depend on recycled components (hollow glass, tableware, and/or factory shards)

Caeserstone  CaesarStone is the first and only quartz surface to earn the ISO 14001 Certification for its compliance and commitment to the best green manufacturing processes. The company is committed to creating a better quality environment and is implementing procedures to prevent pollution and waste reduction at its manufacturing facility. In addition, CaesarStone is also certfied ISO 9002 (Quality Management standard) and NSF 51, is LEED (new commercial construction and major renovation projects) compliant and sports the Good Housekeeping Seal.

VitraStone  We fabricate eco friendly sinks and surfaces made from a special blend of ceramic cement, fly ash, and recycled glass. VitraStone has a soft satin finish with endless color and design options. We offer a selection of standard sink and countertop systems along with a custom design service. We are available nation wide and will ship anywhere. For residential and commercial applications, VitraStone is a smart choice.

Take a look at this article on green countertops, very interesting.  I hope to work toward seeing and handling all of these products personally and will report back as I do, as well as letting you know about other materials I come across. Please let me know if YOU have come across a green countertop material! Would you consider a green countertop product?

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Reader Comments (24)

Wow you did a great job of breaking down all the green countertop options out there. I'll be sure to bookmark this!

October 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Thanks Jennifer...it's good to have it all in one place, I thought. Let's keep one another informed of what else we find.

October 16, 2007 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Saw a link to your site in City-Data Forums. I'm so glad to know of this resource. Thanks!

October 17, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

Thank YOU, Nancy, for stopping by! Hope to see you back soon.

October 17, 2007 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Have installed alkemi in bathroom, fantastic look. Now need something for the kitchen,but not cement (cold) oe glass( busy), paperstine doesnot seem to have an color "texture" (boring). I think the floor will be cork, maybe shetka stone

November 10, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterjean

Jean, Shetkastone is also made from paper, and it has a color "texture," which is why I chose it for my bathroom instead of Richlite or Paperstone. It feels like Corian (plastic), but is environmentally responsible.

January 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I'm super late here, sorry. Jean, if you come back, I'd LOVE to know how you like your alkemi countertop and what you decided for the kitchen. Also, the floor for that matter. And, why. Thanks.

Jen, thanks for your input. How do you like it?

January 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

There are alot of really great options here, however one thing that you failed to mention is that all of these products use plastic (in one form or another) Usually an epoxy as a binding agent, which is made by using oil products. And therefore not very green or sustainable.

April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

Joe, thank you for the comment. That is a question that should be asked, I think. I cannot verify its veracity, but it makes me want to ask the question. Thanks for the comment.

April 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

not all of the products listed contain plastic, many have recycled glass in a cement based matrix, or are primarily cellulose either paper or wood.

April 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKirsten

Thank you Kirsten. Ask questions, and then ask another question in another level of detail and so on.

April 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

Thank you for all the wonderful information. I am curious if you have done a price comparison. Many of the green countertops I have found are very pricey. Also, I live in Oklahoma and have not been able to find these products close to where I live. As was mentioned, bringing the products across the country is not very sustainable.

October 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

We just bought some of the suggested items and so far they seem great.I also read on another blogging site about this company GreenCupboards.com that does some research into household products, very informative and cool looking site.

December 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJill S

I have a countertop buisness and have been looking into green countertops and have found that they are all very expensive does the price matter or does using a green countertop override the price input would be nice thanks

February 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Thank you for posting all of these options. I believe the costs associated with "green" materials is a result that most people who want to be environmentally friendly will pay the extra cost. Most manufacturers understand this and charge accordingly. Is it right? I don't know.

February 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterToby

IceStone is the only green countertop surface in the world to be Cradle to to Cradle certified Gold, and NSF51 certified. IceStone is a BCorp its products are made in Brooklyn, NY in an eco friendly - with deep social mission.

As far as price goes, get a few quotes from different fabricators and you might be surprised. Often the price is less about the material itself than the overall cost of templating, cutting edging and installation.

March 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiranda

As with buying food, "locally produced" is perhaps the best indicator of what is actually "green." One must consider the added energy footprint that goes into the manufacture, distribution and installation of proprietary materials produced at a location remote from the end-consumer site. Often such materials are also dependent on expensive specialty labor and equipment for installation. The "greenness" goes down -- and the costs go up -- for each additional party that has to handle a product. Countertops are a low-tech item that can be easily fabricated from locally available raw materials: wood, stone, concrete, etc. Most claims to being green are based 10% on a token gesture of environmental responsibility and 90% on fashion consciousness.

March 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Hi there-
We are updating the kitchen...trying to be conscientious about product choices. I am trying to be cost effective as well. I heard about concrete counter tops...saw a nice sample but then heard that durability is questionable...any thoughts or wisdom regarding this?? I need to make a decision soon and I know that the fall back choice is granite...the stone yards are full of choices...I really want to make a smart choice...please help. Thanks a bunch!

April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLouellen

I wonder where I can find stores that sell IceStone material for countertops. Any suggestions? I live in Northern California. Thanks!

June 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMeka

This is great information -- I think I'd like to get a quartz (maybe Caeserstone?) countertop in my kitchen, but I currently have Corian (and I could live with that happily if it weren't so damaged -- cut marks along the edge for instance). However, would repair of the existing Corian be the most environmentally friendly option? Thanks.

June 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMeg

Wow. This info is fantastic. But, fatal flaw. I live in Scotland and these companies are not active here and the shipping would be horrendous. I wish I could find nearly as much variety here. One company & my little kitchen would break the budget just for the counters if I chose it.

September 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAran

Aran, oh, don't be so pessimistic! I'll bet you that you have numerous options for eco-friendly countertops in Scotland. You could always use porcelain large floor tiles. Very long lasting and beautiful too as well as low cost. Or, reclaimed wood could be lovely. My son, at 17, biked alone from somewhere to Skye. I have no idea how he got there, I have to ask him, but I know he biked about 180km in one day to get there. Some mother I am, I can't remember, although we planned his trip. But, I digress.

Meg, call a corian fabricator and see if they can do a very heavy duty sanding of the countertop. I bet they can.

Meka, just go to their website and you will get your answer.

September 11, 2009 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

these are good ideas to detoxify your life and to reduce demand for these harmful chemicals..awesome work!!!

March 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGwen - Eco Kitchens

thanks for your article. i just read one on eco kitchen design where it mentioned the great benefits of using bamboo either for your floor, countertop or even a backsplash. i'm currently contemplating whether or not i want to wait and update my kitchen because we've been talking about moving soon (within the next five years). i can't decide if it will be worth it to put money into something we're only going to enjoy for a little amount of time and if we should wait until we're finally settled in a house we know we want to stick with. i've heard it's a great substitute for traditional wood.

January 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJudy

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