When it comes to eco-friendly living, many people underestimate their ability to incorporate sustainable materials into their homes (in addition to modifying their day-to-day consumption habits, of course). However, a minor kitchen remodel has an average return on investment (ROI) of 82.7%, and even though any type of home renovation inevitably requires an initial investment, an eco-friendly kitchen countertop renovation is a great investment into both your home and our environment.
On your quest for eco-friendly materials, you should be looking for three major certifications. The Cradle to Cradle certification signifies reusability and impact on environmental and human health. The Greenguard Certification symbolizes low chemical emissions, and finally, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) recognizes wooden products sourced from forests that have been sustainably managed and harvested.
Here are just a few of the best eco-friendly countertop materials to consider for your green home renovation project.
Recycled glass is an environmentally-friendly option that is quickly growing in popularity. Recycled glass countertops are available in such a wide variety of colors and styles and are a low-maintenance material as well. Their high recycled content makes them sustainable, strong, and resistant to scratches.
Quartz, Marble, and Natural Stone
It’s important to keep in mind that of the 93% of homeowners who are updating countertops during a kitchen renovation, the majority are choosing natural stone materials. Using natural materials takes less of a toll on the environment than traditional manufactured materials. Not only that, but natural stone countertops made from quartz or granite require very little maintenance and last for years to come.
Recycled plastic isn’t as widely available as other eco-friendly options, but it can be made from some very interesting materials. Everything from yogurt lids to milk jugs and other plastic packaging products can be used as materials for a plastic countertop. Keep in mind, however, that while they are resistant to moisture and very durable, they are easily scratched and cannot withstand much heat.
Yes, you can make countertops from wood! Reclaimed wood that is sustainably sourced is another eco-friendly countertop choice that is both aesthetically appealing, and unlike other materials, it doesn’t require an adhesive since it can be mechanically fastened. It can also be used in a number of ways upon deinstallation: firewood and mulch are just a few examples. Wood countertops do require a bit more maintenance than other materials, however.
Eartheasy.com writes, “wood isn’t suitable for wet applications, such as the area around the kitchen sink, unless the surface treatment (e.g. varnish) is renewed periodically. The finish on wood countertops can be compromised by putting hot pots directly on the surface. But with some care and maintenance, a wood countertop can be beautiful in a modern kitchen.”
Ultimately, understanding these eco-friendly countertop materials can help you make the best decision for both your home’s value and the condition of our planet. Remember to look for certifications, and for maximum sustainability, source locally whenever possible.