Shopping Guide – Countertops & Cabinetry


Before you make ANY choices for a new home build or remodel, consult with the experts on non-toxic home materials at The Green Design Center in Waukesha, Wisconsin.  They are indeed the experts and test ALL recommended materials with a FRAT device, which is accurate to 1 part per billion.  There are many “indoor air quality ‘experts’ out there, but they are not doing the testing that The Green Design Center is doing.

They have an educational arm of their company, called Degree of Green, where you can find

  1. Degree of Green (DOG) Reports on thousands of products
  2. Podcasts where you can learn for free, called Non Toxic Environments
  3. Free DOG report/questionnaire you and each of your family members can take to elucidate your priorities in your project.



What are YOUR priorities?  We’ve heard the term “GREEN”, but do we know what “GREEN” means?   Does it mean —-

  1. Healthy ?
  2. Sustainable/Renewable ?
  3. Green (Recycled Materials) ?

There is an IMPORTANT difference between these…  There are many “GREEN” recycled products out there, but many of them are not HEALTHY, in regards to indoor air quality/chemical off-gassing.

That’s what “Degree of Green” is all about – it rates how GREEN a product is, in TERMS of what is IMPORTANT TO YOU, whether that’s health, renewable materials, or using recycled materials.  Sometimes you will find a product that meets all three definitions of GREEN, but often it doesn’t, or it meets one, and a little bit of another.



We’ve all been led to believe that if something is “natural”, it is safe and healthy for the occupants of a home to use and be around.  But this is FALSE.

Man-made woods, such as MDF, plywood, are made up of a lot of little pieces of a NATURAL material (wood), but the adhesives used to make these little pieces hold together, are often extremely toxic, and they off-gas chemicals into the air of your home for decades and decades, if not the entire life-span of the product.

People consider granite to be safe, because it is a natural stone, but virtually every stone or mineral (aka ore) that is mined from the Earth requires the use of HAZARDOUS chemicals during that extraction process, and if additional processing is required to separate certain minerals or materials from the rest of the rock in which it is embedded, the chemicals required to do so are ALSO HAZARDOUS.  The people that do this work, and those that live literally downstream from these operations are dying of tragic diseases.  Most granite comes from other countries, currently.

Also, no one has created a non-toxic SEALER for granite countertops.  If one doesn’t seal and re-seal the granite every 6 months or so, the countertop develops stains from moist items which are set upon the counter.  Lack of a sealer could also potentially lead to cracking.



There are new products coming out all the time, and The Green Design Center TESTS them all for toxicity, and identifies the safe products.  Consult with them as this list could become outdated, very quickly.



Coming soon…



Large format Porcelain Tile  – 5′ x 10′ pieces, manufactured similarly to granite.  Doesn’t require sealing because it is glazed.  It can be difficult to find a contractor who has the tools and skillset to install this material, because it cuts like glass, but pieces together like stone.

Quartz countertops are 93% mined stone, and 7% non-toxic resin (not all resins are safe!), thus, it doesn’t require a sealer.  Make sure you buy from Cambria, the only U.S.A. quartz countertop manufacturer, in Minnesota.  The other brands are sourced overseas, and it is not possible to get transparent information about how these are made and what resins or other materials may be used.  It’s also difficult to obtain information on child labor laws and environmental pollutant controls during mining and manufacturing. Cambria also includes the non-toxic AFM Almighty Adhesive as an installation product which maintains the warranty.

Corian – very bad indoor air quality caused during the manufacture in the plants, but once created, it is not toxic.

Richlite  – it will sustain damage and get nicks and scratches, etc, but if you’re okay with that, it is a safe material according to FRAT testing at The Green Design Center.