Eco-friendly kitchen countertops

Five green solutions for kitchen countertops, from recycled glass, aluminum, and paper to end-grain bamboo

Peter O. Whiteley


What it is: Colorful recycled glass mixed into a cement, concrete, or resin base. Kitchen countertops can be integrally colored or stained for more variation and color coordination with cabinetry or painted surfaces. Note: As with all counter materials, labor and installation can cost extra and vary by region.

What makes it green: Diverts used glass from the waste stream. The cement in some counters is mixed with fly ash, a waste product of coal-burning that would otherwise end up in landfills; this also reduces greenhouse gas-producing cement manufacturing.

Cost and contact info: It's pricey. EnviroGlas Products, Plano, TX (from $50 per sq. ft.; 888/523-7894); Syndecrete, Santa Monica (from $80 per sq. ft.; 310/829-9704); Vetrazzo, Richmond, CA (pictured; from $55 per sq. ft.; 510/234-5550).


What it is: Chopping blocks made of slender rectangles of end-grain
bamboo glued into panels (usually 1½ inches thick). Available in natural or brown.

What makes it green: Bamboo is a great substitute for wood because its fast growth makes it more renewable. Low-off-gassing glues don't harm indoor air quality. Can be cut with standard woodworking tools.

Cost and contact info: Midrange cost compared with natural or manufactured stone products. Smith & Fong, South San Francisco, CA (pictured; $23 per sq. ft.; 866/835-9859); Teragren, Bainbridge Island, WA (from $22 per sq. ft.; 800/929-6333).


What it is: Recycled paper in a resin base. Available in thicknesses ranging from ¼ inch to 2 inches; integrally colored in many hues. Heat- and stain-resistant with honed-surface look.

What makes it green: Uses postconsumer recycled paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and nonpetroleum, formaldehyde-free resins, some made from cashew nut shell liquid. Can be cut and shaped with standard woodworking tools.

Cost and contact info: Low- to midrange cost and easy-to-work-with characteristics make it ideal for the budget-conscious home craftsman.