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Is cork the greenest option for your countertop?

The bark from cork oak can be stripped about every 10 years without the trees having to be cut down. See more green living pictures.

Your kitchen countertops always look like you just cooked a Thanksgiving feast no matter how hard you try to clean them. And you can't hide the coffee stains and knife marks anymore -- the counters definitely show the years of wear and tear. Sounds like it's probably time to replace them. The good news is you have an assortment of eco-friendly countertop materials to choose from, and these green options are becoming more affordable the more popular they become. Of course, that doesn't mean they're dirt cheap. But, taking this one step to go green in your kitchen gets your home one step closer to sustainability.

The most common green countertop materials on the market today include the following:

  • cork
  • bamboo
  • wheatboard (a mix of fibers from palm trees, cornhusks, seed husks, wheat and rye grass)
  • concrete mixed with fly ash or other waste products
  • recycled aluminum, glass or porcelain

All of these materials are made from either recycled or sustainable materials. Cork, for example, comes from the bark of cork oak trees. The bark can be stripped about every 10 years and the trees never have to be cut down [source: APCOR]. Wheatboard, on the other hand, is made from unusable portions of already-harvested plants like wheat, cornstalk, hemp, rice, rye grass and straw that would have otherwise become scrap. Then there's concrete made with scrap sediment and fly ash; crushed scrap aluminum; glass; and porcelain that all transform hard-to-recycle materials into stunning and durable countertop slabs.

But with this many green options, is cork, the most light-weight and fastest regenerating resource, the greenest option? That depends on what you want to save.