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How Sustainable are Your Countertops?

As a Holistic Interior Designer, it’s so important to me to stay knowledgeable on the sustainability of the materials I specify. When it comes to countertop materials, it’s no exception. 


Not all countertops are created equal, and there are a few key factors to examine when determining the sustainability of a material. The most important factors include: what the lifespan of the material is for the application, where the material originated and how much travel does the material have to go through to get to your location, what the template and install process looks like, if the material requires regular or yearly maintenance, is the material itself eco-friendly, what is the likelihood of damage from regular wear and tear and what does the repair process look like. 


Concrete countertops are a unique option and can take on many different styles depending on what materials are mixed with the concrete. The actual manufacturing process to create concrete countertops can be very energy intensive, but they can usually be manufactured in the same state you reside in making their travel requirements relatively low. Though concrete is heat and scratch resistant, the material is susceptible to cracking so the lifespan of concrete countertops isn’t especially long. Concrete countertops require yearly sealing and the material can be recycled at the end of its lifetime.



Natural stones like granite, soapstone, and marble are usually the least eco-friendly option. The mining process is very energy intensive, and the stone is typically imported from other countries which means a larger carbon footprint. Granite is relatively indestructible and is heatproof, but requires sealing and is susceptible to cracking. Marble is waterproof and heatproof, but can become stained and scratched unless professionally sealed. Natural stone countertops are heavy-duty, and can have a long lifespan if cared for correctly. 


Engineered stone like quartz is a highly durable countertop option and can have a good lifespan if cared for properly. Quartz is heat and stain resistant, it doesn’t scratch or crack easily, and it doesn’t require regular sealing. Most quartz countertops are NSF certified, and don’t contain toxic chemicals. There are many quartz options available that look similar to granite or marble, which is a plus. There are quite a few engineered stone companies who manufacture in the USA so there is less travel involved and therefore less of a carbon footprint.