10 Green Countertops

Recycled Paper
Kitchen countertops can be made of many types of materials, including recycled paper. iStock/Thinkstock

Before you think a paper countertop pushes the limits of environmental friendliness, let's discuss what exactly it is. It is actually a paper composite, meaning it is made of paper and other materials, including recycled wood, that are mixed with a binder, usually resin or cement. The end result looks like natural stone.

For green purposes, you want to use as much recycled paper as possible. Additionally, you can use wood products, like pulp, from forests that are sustainable, or renewable resources that can be replenished almost as soon as they are cut. Put these two together -- recycled and renewable resources -- and you've got yourself a very green product.

Before you pat yourself on the back, though, consider the resin used in the countertop. If possible, use a resin that is low- or no-VOC. The resin is just a small percentage of the overall countertop, but anything you can do to help makes a difference.

However, the addition of the resin, a type of plastic, makes the finished countertop nonrecyclable. But it can be reused, or portions can be reused, which extends its life span.

So, if you can make a countertop from recycled paper, what other recycled materials are suitable for countertops?