What’s Cooking? Recycled Kitchen Countertops!

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What’s Cooking? Recycled Kitchen Countertops!

Upgrading your kitchen can be a daunting task. And while you probably want the most modern kitchen you can afford, it’s also important to think about the environmental impact of any new items you purchase.
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Monday, December 14, 2009 - 2:00pm


Consumers are more aware than ever about sustainable choices for products for their home improvement projects. A kitchen makeover is a great place to incorporate some earth-friendly choices into your remodeling goals.

For instance, wood countertops, including reclaimed wood countertops, are becoming popular again.

White oak, maple, even madrone - a hardwood known for its reddish hue - are popular choices today. Beautiful, durable, and sustainable, wood is a warm alternative to granite and manufactured stone. Wood has its own natural beauty, holding its own against surfaces with cooler colors and textures.

Many companies also now make butcher block from reclaimed or salvaged wood. Reclaimed wood countertops can be made from pallets, water tanks, even telephone poles. Butcher block can also be made from bamboo, a sustainable wood source. Interested in wood countertops? Start with Endura Wood’s maple butcher block.

Butcher block can be custom made to fit your specific dimensions. It’s also completely reusable. It can be sanded down again and again, for generations even, to reveal a new surface. It’s fully biodegradable, heat resistant and doesn’t contribute harmful chemicals to indoor air. And it actually looks better with age and use. Plus, the beautiful grain and character it achieves over time will provide a wonderful story to tell your friends. Check out some sustainable options at Totally Bamboo.

But wood isn’t right for every kitchen area. Wood isn’t a great choice for around the sink because it doesn’t stand up well to water. So you might want to consider other types of earth-friendly countertops - like those made from stainless steel, recycled glass or even recycled paper, for your remodeling project.

Stainless Steel Living has some beautiful choices for countertops. Stainless steel is a highly recycled material that has a fantastic modern look when installed. Plus, it’s easy to clean and maintain. Stainless steel is fully recyclable, so the next time you upgrade your kitchen, stainless steel can go on to improve another kitchen in the future. One drawback, stainless steel tends to show scratches and scuffs, so treat stainless steel counters with care to keep them looking good.

EcoTop, made from FSC-certified fiber that is a 50/50 blend of bamboo and post-consumer recycled paper is another eco-friendly option. It comes in 10 earth-tone colors and gives you the durability and warmth of a hard wood surface, but has a very low water absorption rate. The downside, it may scratch like traditional wood and is made with a water-based copolymer resin that is not biodegradable.

Icestone is made from 100% recycled glass. Its 1.25 inch thick manufactured slabs contain no petrochemicals and comes with cradle-to-cradle certification. And it’s available in 29 beautiful colors. But, it’s a cement-based product. And any cement-based or natural stone countertop can stain easily, so careful sealing and maintenance is required.

Vetrazzo, another type of glass countertop, is made from 85% recycled glass from curbside bins, traffic lights and stemware. But like IceStone, it’s vulnerable to staining and patina between the glass layers. Yearly sealing is required. You might also want to check out ThinkGlass.com for some other glass countertop ideas.

The new green-grade laminates are a wonderful choice, too. Made of formaldehyde-free, recycled plastic, they’re stain-resistant and easy to clean. Laminate, like SkyBlend, is easily the least expensive green countertop around. Laminate countertops  are made with recycled wood particle board and non-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) adhesives, and are ideal for green remodeling projects where cost is an issue. The drawback here is that while laminates can be made from recyclable materials, they aren’t recyclable after use, so plan on keeping a laminate counter top for quite a while.

Another beautiful choice is lava rock, like Pyrolave. It’s available in an unlimited amount of colors and finishes. Plus, it’s ultra-resilient material is made from enameling natural volcanic rock at more than 1,000 degrees.

In a perfectly green world, countertops would be made of all recyclable materials, free of all harmful VOCs, solid, sturdy, stain and scratch resistant, and completely recyclable. Unfortunately, we live in the real world and choosing a countertop is more like an exercise in listing environmental pros and cons.

But thanks to advances in green technologies, the variety and quality of earth-friendly materials to choose from is growing all the time. So it’s possible to have a greener kitchen after all.

Greenopolis.com is dedicated to our users. We focus our attention on changing the world through recycling, waste-to-energy and conservation. We reward our users for their sustainable behaviors on our website, through our Greenopolis Tracking Stations and with curbside recycling programs.


Keywords: Recycling | cooking | counter tops | food | home improvement | kitchen | upgrade | wood