I always explain that there is no one perfect material because it depends on what your idea of sustainability is. Some people prefer the idea of using recycled materials or new materials with high recycled content. Others prefer to use only natural materials like stone or timber. And then there are people who value material health above all else, so they’ll be looking for materials which are made with ingredients which won’t harm their health through off-gassing of VOCs. Materials which have been made with low embodied carbon are a big concern from some people so a recycled material or a material made by a local supplier may suit them best. Whilst others value highly durable materials which (hopefully) never need to be replaced, such as concrete or stainless steel.
There are many different ways to be sustainable – choose the way which suits you!
As you can see, there are many ways you can approach your search for a sustainable benchtop or countertop material – which way do you prefer the most?
Not sure what sustainable materials are are? To learn more, check out this post
In my online course, the Sustainable Materials Method I’ll show you how to work out which sustainable material is the best choice for you based on the most important considerations – but I’ll give you a little sneak peak into my approach now.
I assess each material category by considering four different areas, so you can see at a glance which will be best for you. Here is what I look at:
1. Environmental impact
Once you know which material category best suits the way you live as well as your sustainability and healthy home goals, it’s time for the fun part of shortlisting materials and creating a materials board (if you’re doing a full renovation or building a new home).
Before you start your search, below are two pro tips to help you make the right choices.
Pro tip 1
Remember to ALWAYS look at a physical material sample before you order your sustainable kitchen benchtop or countertop material. NEVER order directly from a computer screen or brochure. Colours can vary quite a lot between onscreen, print and real life. If the material you’re choosing has a grain or marble-like vein in it, ask for the largest sample available so you can get a sense of how big the grain, vein or texture will be.
Pro tip 2
When you’re looking at your benchtop or countertop materials always view them on a flat, horizontal surface in a similar type of lighting to what you’ll have in your kitchen. This will give you the best idea of what the material will look like when it’s installed in your home. Don’t view the sample outside as natural daylight is slightly more blue than indoor light, so your sample will look cooler if you look at it outside.
Remember that the perfect benchtop or countertop material is the one which best suits you!
Nadine is the founder and editor of Eco Edition and founder of the Eco Edition Design School. She’s an experienced interior designer, sustainable materials consultant, speaker and serial home renovator.