There are many eco-friendly countertops on the market today that hold up well under heavy use. They combine natural and man-made materials in composite slabs, and usually integrate recycled materials as well, while remaining very attractive and utilitarian alternatives to mainstream countertops.
IceStone countertops (www.icestone.biz) are made of cement and glass, 75% of it recycled. Thousands of pieces of polished glass (which used to be beer bottles, windshields, or traffic lights) are set in a base of concrete, and these surfaces are available in almost any color. Vetrazzo (www.vetrazzo.com) is similar product, using 80% recycled glass. Vetrazzo is more highly customized and is made with larger chunks of glass. In addition, EnviroSlab (www.enviroglasproducts.com) sets recycled glass into a color-pigmented epoxy resin, but the epoxy resin base is less eco-friendly than the cement base.
Paper-and-resin composites are made from recycled newspaper, cardboard, and waste paper. These slab counters can be sawn, drilled, screwed, or routed just like wood or Corian, and come in a variety of colors. PaperStone (www.paperstoneproducts.com) leads the industry and is composed of a natural resin and 100% recycled post-consumer paper, resulting in a strong and durable end product.
Alkemi (www.renewedmaterials.com) uses curled shavings of shredded scrap aluminum embedded in a resin that comes in dozens of colors. The metal reflects light, resulting in a modern space-age look that is also durable and heat-resistant.
With so many top-of-the-line alternatives, making your new or existing home more eco-friendly is easier and more beautiful than ever.