The True Costs of Granite
Granite comes to market at a high cost to the planet and its people, not just a high cost to consumers. Scientists point out that granite countertops have a very substantial environmental footprint.
High Cost of Movement & Health
Granite quarries are open pit mines, often thousands of miles from the final destination of the product. Much of the granite used in the United States is quarried in Brazil, but considerable amounts come from India, Africa, and China. Only a small percentage of the decorative granite used in the U.S. is quarried domestically or in Canada. The dusty environment of quarries pose great health risks to the workers.
More Fuel Usage & Emissions
Many of the granite blocks that are blasted from quarries are damaged and not suitable for use, leaving considerable waste at the site of origin. Slabs that are suitable for use are typically transported thousands of miles for polishing, often to Europe or Asia. Polished slabs are then shipped to the U.S. and trucked to distributors across the country. Fuel usage and emissions are substantial.
Excessive Waste & Energy Use
Fabrication of granite slabs for installation has additional environmental costs. The waste from granite fabrication (about 30 percent for a standard installation) is not typically reused or recycled. Cutting and shaping granite are energy-intensive processes, and fabrication shops consume many saw blades, grinding wheels, and router bits. The metal in those tools has its own environmental cost.
Is It Worth It?
In addition to the health, energy and environmental costs, once installed, granite can scratch and stain, requiring annual professional sealing. Is granite really a good countertop choice when its beauty can be replicated with far less environmental impact and at less cost? The true cost of granite is staggering.