Building for the future, today – combining the best of historical wisdom and modern technology.
When it comes to choosing a countertop for your kitchen remodel, there are so many attractive options that making a decision can be difficult. One way to narrow it down is to factor eco-friendliness into the equation.
Not sure where to start? Let’s break down some of the best eco-friendly countertop options available on the market today, ranging from ultra-luxurious to basic and budget-friendly. Once you decide which material you love for kitchen countertops, you can use this handy cost calculator to help you stay on budget.
The Lavish Look: Recycled Marble Kitchen Countertops ($$$$)
Marble is timeless, undeniably beautiful, and it will make your kitchen stand out from the crowd. Yes, it scratches and stains more easily than some other materials, but with proper care, its beauty can be maintained for years. It’s also naturally cool and it doesn’t conduct heat, so if you like to bake, this is the natural choice for you. But marble isn’t cheap—it starts at about $60/foot and can easily be 4-5 times that, depending on marble style and location.
Recycled marble countertops (often called “engineered” or “cultured” marble) are made from natural stone that has been crushed and reformed into a slab with heat and resin, making a product from excess marble dust and scraps that’s just as beautiful as pure marble. Recycled marble can cost much less than new marble when purchased in precut sizes and slabs, but can be comparable in cost if poured into a custom mold for your unique counters.
Worry-Free and Durable: ECO by Cosentino ($$$)
If your style leans toward the upscale end of the spectrum but you don’t want to deal with scratched and stained countertops, consider a non-porous kitchen countertop like ECO by Cosentino, made from 75 percent recycled content (mirror, glass, porcelain, earthenware, and vitrified ash) and 25 percent corn resin. It’s extremely scratch resistant. According to Cosentino’s website, 94 percent of the water used in the manufacturing is re-used. It’s eco-friendly and relatively affordable, costing about $100/foot.
Go Natural Bamboo ($$)
Bamboo is often one of the first materials that come to mind when people think of eco-friendly alternatives for anything from flooring to countertops. Bamboo counters are beautiful and practical, thanks to their durability and affordability. It’s also a great choice if you just want to update or add a kitchen island, to keep costs low while also giving the potential for a complete transformation in your kitchen’s look (and mix-and-matching cabinet and island materials is a growing trend).
If you choose bamboo, you’ll have to decide on sealed or unsealed. With unsealed, be sure to factor in a non-toxic sealant to protect your investment. Also, be sure to choose a brand that sustainably harvests their bamboo.
On average, for bamboo you’re looking at around $50/foot. Finally, bamboo is formaldehyde-free and naturally resists bacteria, but its primary drawback is that it does stain easily.
The Economical (and Ecological) Champ: Marmoleum ($)
Marmoleum, a countertop material that’s often used in flooring, boasts a very low environmental footprint. The material is a USDA-certified bio-based product composed of wood fibers, rosin (produced by heating the resin of pine trees) and natural oils. And it’s extremely cheap compared to other eco-friendly options, costing as low as $4 a square foot! A small kitchen can be done for under $1,000 if you do it yourself. Plus, it’s a nice, smooth surface that comes in hundreds of color options.
Tips for Choosing an Eco-Friendly Kitchen Countertop
• Ask friends and family about their kitchen countertops. What do they love or hate about them?
• If you’re considering a DIY option, stop and think—do you have the time or the talent? We can all Pin and dream, but can we take those ideas and make them reality? DIY may be cheaper, but be smart and hire someone if you’re not 100% confident in your ability to install it correctly.
• Research what the countertop is truly made of. For example, if you choose a concrete kitchen countertop, do you know how much energy it takes to make concrete and how to seal the concrete without using toxic sealants? Is there a more eco-friendly concrete mix available? (There is! Here’s a primer).
• Don’t always believe what you read. If a product says “eco-friendly,” do some digging and learn about the company’s sustainability policy. Ask the salesperson how the product is sourced and what makes the material a better choice. Is it green certified? Look for certifications from groups like LEED, the Forest Stewardship Council and GREENGUARD.
Whatever eco-friendly countertop option you choose, you’re sure to love the look of your new kitchen, and you can feel proud knowing you factored sustainability into your decision-making process.
Sommer Poquette keeps sustainability and eco-friendliness top of mind when planning out her DIY projects. For The Home Depot and her blog GreenandCleanMom.org, Sommer provides great tips on the eco-friendly materials you can use for your kitchen remodel. To see a wide variety of countertop options to fit your needs, visit Home Depot's website.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.