Submitted by Louisa May
Consider this curiosity: Glass appears to be solid, though from a molecular standpoint it is neither solid nor liquid. I’m fascinated by the quality of glass because it is beautiful and artfully amorphous, with molecules disordered (as a liquid) but rigidly bound (as a solid).
I love going to Cape Cod to relax and collect beach glass. Bits and pieces of mostly soda- lime glass are recycled by the sea, weathered and conditioned and given a frosty patina complete with a few mysterious etchings. The pounding of the surf softens and reshapes its rough edges. “The sea is calm tonight, the tide is full…” A shard of beach glass is lovely, like a piece of poetry.
Admittedly, curbside recycled glass lacks a little of this ocean tossed and tumbled romance. Still, soda-lime glass is the most common commercial glass in use today, and over 90% of the total production of bottles, jars, windshields, and stemware is made from it. In composition, this glass is a mix of silica obtained from beds of fine sand, lime from limestone that’s used as a stabilizer, and sodium bicarbonate or soda ash, an alkali needed to lower the melting point.
By adding secondary properties, other forms of glass are made, but most of the recycled glass used by the companies making recycled glass products comes from curbside recycling programs.
Why is this important? Recycled glass is not taking up space in a landfill, and when it is made into a sustainable product that is manufactured in an environmentally friendly factory, it’s good news for us, our households, and our planet.
Best of all, one application for recycled glass that’s gaining in popularity meets all of these requirements. Durable recycled glass countertops are sustainable, environmentally friendly, and they are dazzling. Two companies that are producing these countertops are Vetrazzo and IceStone, and both have informational websites. Cement, additives and pigments are combined with recycled glass to create a wide variety of color choices. IceStone has 27 standard colors in their palette and Vetrazzo offers 16. Customizing your design is an option at both companies, although even using standard colors, no two countertops will ever be alike.
Generally speaking, countertop costs at IceStone range from $75.00-$150.00 per sq.ft. and at Vetrazzo from $55.00- $75.00 per sq.ft. Costs are subject to change. At Vetrazzo, buying in bulk for multiple projects can save you money. IceStone manufactures its products from a day-lit factory at the Brooklyn, New York Navy yard, and you can schedule a tour at Vetrazzo’s San Francisco facility. IceStone’s and Vetrazzo’s recycled glass countertops are VOC (volatile organic compounds) free and IceStone is the first and only durable glass/recycled countertop company to be Cradle to Cradle certified.
Cradle to Cradle certification is a third party certification that reassures earth-smart consumers while recognizing a company’s commitment to using materials that are perpetually circulated in a closed loop. This means the materials are designed for re-utilization such as further recycling or composting. And re-using maximizes the value of the material without damaging the ecosystem. The certification also recognizes the efficient use of renewable energy and water in the manufacturing process. In short, it’s a big deal to earn this certification since it measures achievement in environmentally intelligent design.
I’d rather walk the beach looking for sea glass and create my own countertop design, but even if I lived in Cape Cod instead of Colorado, I know that’s just not going to happen. So, if you love the ambiance of glass, look for the sea light shining lustrously through these recycled glass creations.
Check out our Green Pages for information on money saving tips that help the environment. Once there, click on the Green Forum to see more articles by our green feature writer Louisa May.
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