Cork is arguably the greenest option for some, but for people in certain geographical areas, other materials might be cheaper and more environmentally friendly. In the Pacific Rim, for instance, locally harvested bamboo is much cheaper because it grows in abundance there and because there's no added cost of shipping it from one part of the globe to the next. And since bamboo is technically a grass, it regenerates quickly after cutting, and can be harvested again in about three to five years.
Another option is purchasing countertops made from recycled glass and porcelain. For some people, salvaging construction materials that would otherwise end up in a dump is a much greener option than purchasing cork countertops. And unlike cork or bamboo, these materials aren't harvested from the forest, but instead from waste and scraps industries have no use for. The unusable glass and porcelain is crushed and reformed into custom mosaic-style countertops that are colorful and durable surfaces able to withstand the rigors of the kitchen [source: EnviroSLAB].
Shop around for the best prices for these recycled countertops. Prices can range anywhere from $50 to more than $100 per square foot depending on things like color, what materials are used to make them and how much your contractor charges for installation [source: EnviroSLAB].
- APCOR. "Overview: From Bark to Bottle." RealCork.org. (March 1, 2011)http://www.realcork.org/artigo/3.htm
- Bandon, Alexandra. "How to Lay a Cork Floor." Thisoldhouse.com. (March 1, 2011)http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/how-to/intro/0,,1550493,00.html
- Ecohaus. "SuBERRA." (March 3, 2011) http://www.ecohaus.com/C-791/suberra
- Kermani-Peterson, Shohreh. "Is cork laminate a realistic option for a kitchen countertop?" Green Home Guide. (March 1, 2011)http://greenhomeguide.com/askapro/question/is-cork-laminate-a-realistic-option-for-a-kitchen-countertop
- Menesis, J. L. Calheiros E. "The cork industry in Portugal." University of Wisconsin. (Feb. 24, 2011)http://www.uwec.edu/Geography/Ivogeler/Travel/Portugal/cork-article2.htm
- World Wide Fund for Nature. "Cork Oak." wwf.panda.org. (March 1, 2011)http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/cork_oak/