The “greeness” of stone counter tops is a conumdrum I have been wrestling with over the years. You can get LEED points for using stone countertops because of their benefits to indoor air quality. But generally speaking, in the true sense of the word, stone countertops are not green. Stone is a massively energy and water intensive product to produce. Producers tout its “natural qualities.” Stone may be natural, but that doesn’t mean that all natural things are safe or responsible to use. If that were the case you could argue that petroleum is a natural product too.
But let’s be realistic: A lot of us love stone countertops. They’re nice to look at, they’re sleek, they’re fairly easy to clean and they can last and last without fading and can, to a certain extent, be revived or refurbished when they get too rough looking. So, whether we like it or not, stone countertops are going to be around for awhile.
That being said, if you could choose a more “eco-friendly” stone, assuming there is such a thing, you would look for stone manufacturers that are conscientious about how they produce their stone, and you would look for stone that stands up to the test of time. Some stones are more durable than others and will last for 100s of years if looked after properly. Others, like the prima dona marble counter tops in my kitchen, will be worn out within a few years unless they’re taken extra, really good care of.
If I were to choose a stone countertop I would choose a quartz-based product. Quartz is the fourth hardest natural substance and is one of the most common substances on earth. Quartz countertops have many advantages over granite, marble, soapstone and limestone countertops. Quartz countertops are:
- low maintenance and never need to be sealed,
- non-porous so they are stain and bacteria-resistant,
- available in a wide variety of colours and edging finishes,
- generally come with a 10 year warranty (check your manufacturer for specific warranty)
- Greenguard approved — which is given to products with high indoor air quality value. These products don’t off-gas any harmful chemicals.
Two quartz manufacturers stand out when it comes to their environmental commitments.
CaesarStone not only offers a line of products which includes up to 42% post-consumer recycled material, its manufacturing and transportation practices are central to its environmental commitment.
Cambria: According to its website, its quartz is mostly mined and manufactured in the USA. The company recycles 100% of water used in the manufacturing process and even recycles storm water captured on the property. Environmental best practices are used throughout the manufacturing and packaging of Cambria products and even within its head office. See here for more details.
To find a CaesarStone dealer near you, click here.
To find a Cambria dealer near you, click here.