Picking an Eco-Friendly, Green Countertop

Did you notice some of the matching characteristics between the kitchen we just built (yes – it’s still quite chaotic!):

moving in

And the one we built in Germany:

europe kitchen

We must have drawn up 30 plans for this new kitchen in the hangar loft. Before we knew it, we were carving out a plan for something that looked like an idea we had years ago. Guess we know what we like!

Unfortunately, it was not so easy to find a countertop that we liked this time. You see, we set some specifications for our countertop that aren’t normal. You know, in case anyone was starting to worry that we ever did the “normal” thing around here!

We had four goals for our countertops besides the obvious functionality part:

  1. find a product that’s made in an eco-friendly way where the miners and manufacturers are treated well;
  2. find a product that’s made in the USA;
  3. not spend a bajillion dollars in the process; and
  4. work with a company that will do pre-orders with our CAD drawings

I might as well be asking for an imaginary countertop with this list like this! Here’s how the hunt went:

1. Big Brand Stores

It’s always easiest to start at the box stores, so I did. I found:

  1. a rather expensive countertop made of recycled glass. That’s cool. But it’s made in Spain.
  2. a quartz countertop mined in the US with harsh chemicals

None of that really mattered, though. None of them would accept CAD drawings.

They insist on driving all the way out here to use their specialized measuring devices to measure the cabinets. No exceptions. Obviously, their system would require the cabinets to be built. And they weren’t. We would still be waiting for countertops if that were the case.

Or we could buy their cabinetry.

2. The Local Hardware Store

They sell slabs of granite and accept CAD drawings without a problem. You pay for the whole slab, regardless of how much you need or the type of cut. Their countertops come from Brazil.

3. The Local Eco Building Store

Wowzers! This place has the most beautiful recycled glass countertops. Everything is made in the US. You pay a pretty penny for them, and the lead time is a month… or at least it’s supposed to be. Apparently it’s been more like 2-3 months.

4. A Local Manufacturer

There’s a young business in town. They’re not totally organized. They’re still refining their product and their customer service. Yet what they create is intriguing. The main materials in their countertops are:

  1. recycled glass from our county
  2. fly ash from the nearby power plant

Do you know what fly ash is? It’s a byproduct of burning pulverized coal in electric power generating plants. During combustion, all the mineral impurities in the coal (like quartz, feldspar, clay, and shale) fuse together in the exhaust. As these particles cool, they solidify into glassy particles… fly ash.

We are huge recyclers at our house, as you probably assumed. Could a few of our juice bottles be in our own countertops? We also get electricity from a neighboring county, which happens to use said coal burning plant for a portion of the power.

Even though these countertop guys didn’t have a complete handle on their operations, if we purchased our countertop from them, we would be meeting all of our goals. The profits would stay right here in town. Plus we’d be repurposing waste that very well could have been ours.

We laid five color samples across the windowsill to look at them in natural light. I picked these colors based on the colors in our wallpaper.

And slowly, we narrowed down the choices. We think!

As much as I wanted to love that blue in the upper left of the photo, it looked a little too fake. The green looked like – well, we won’t get into what popped into my mind with that one. Probably shouldn’t say “popped” in that sentence. Oh well.

We set our final choice up, and it was confirmed. The one with a slight gold tint was the winner.

eco-friendly countertop choices

As you can see, we picked out the countertops a while ago.

And then we played the waiting game. Or was it the working and working game?

Have you ever researched the heck out of something for your home? Did you like the results? The great thing about writing this post AFTER installation is that I can confirm: we love this countertop!