Sometimes going green means getting blue.
Skyy Vodka’s iconic cobalt-colored bottles are going from cocktails to countertops, providing a recycled glass surface with sustainability and style.
That’s just one popular option available at a variety of kitchen, bath and interior design centers. Other recycled glass countertops are embedded with broken pieces of wine, soda and beer bottles.
Naomi Anderson, a Sioux City, Iowa, showroom sales manager, said they plan on installing a couple different concrete and recycled-paper countertops in the store’s new location to feature a few more eco-friendly options.
“We’re trying to get ahead of the curve,” she said.
A movement toward eco-conscious interior design is driving businesses to highlight green products in their stores.
More people want to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle, according to Daniel Levine, director of The Avant-Guide Institute, a global trends consultancy for consumer marketing.
“We’ve seen that reflected in many different areas of our lives – in the clothing we wear, the cars we drive and the houses we live in as well,” he said. “Now, it’s just such a normal part of the conversation.”
Going green has become a growing trend, and Levine has been tracking it. He believes the shift toward eco-conscious living gained widespread acceptance following the Great Recession.
“With economic change comes social change,” he said. “People start thinking differently.”
One aspect of sustainable living extends to interior design and décor.
Cork, a renewable resource, has been used to make floors, countertops, lampshades, photo frames and fashion accessories, among other things.
The natural product is harvested from the bark of cork oak trees every nine years.
Soon, one of the partitions in Studio 427, a Sioux City design center, will showcase cork wallpaper.
“Most people think of cork bulletin boards and don’t want that on their walls,” said owner Laura Austin-Bullock. “Having it up will bring more awareness to what the product is about.”
The wall covering absorbs sound and acts as an insulator. It can hide and prevent cracks and, throughout installation, it shouldn’t expand or contract.
It also comes in multiple colors, patterns and finishes.
“Cork is transitional,” Austin-Bullock said. “What you put with it is going to determine the style.”
The environmentally friendly material has fallen in and out of favor in the flooring industry. But it’s had a recent resurgence, according to John Hall, who has worked with flooring for 66 years.
“Because it is a green product, it’s come to the front again,” Hall said. “There’s more talk about it — green products, recyclable products.”
He said he’s looking to update some of the samples in his store to include a couple different cork selections so customers can walk on it and see its beauty.
“We’ve always had cork,” Hall said. “We didn’t have all of these patterns.”
Years ago, Hall saw cork flooring in two tones – light or dark.
“I just put this one in my kitchen,” he said, pulling out a sample that looked more like a taupe-colored stone or ceramic tile rather than cork. “I wanted something that was quiet and warm underfoot. I knew that finish would be easy to take care of, and it was a green product.”
Added benefits include fire and mold resistance.
His Floors Carpet One also carries another green alternative: bamboo. And like cork, it comes in a variety of patterns and colors.
Many of these green products all share something else in common: a higher price.
From recycled paper countertops to cork wallpaper and floors, green alternatives are gaining momentum, but costs remain high.
“A lot of these green trends are more expense,” Levine said. “As more people embrace these things, the price will come down.”
“Anything that’s good for you is usually more expensive,” Anderson said.
Some people choose to go green in a different area, making a smaller eco-friendly investment by installing water-saving faucets, toilets and shower heads.
“This is just one small step,” she said. “You start at home.”