Mother Earth Living

A Guide to Sustainable Tile

Available in recycled glass, ceramic and clay, today's varied sustainable tile options offer beauty and durability.

Oceanside Glasstile recycles more than 2 million pounds of post-consumer glass each year to create stunning mosaic tiles. Available in every color of the rainbow, some shades are more sustainable than others. For example, Midori (Iridescent shown) contains 30 percent pre-consumer and 64 percent post-consumer recycled content, whereas Red contains 55 percent post-industrial content but no post-consumer.
Photo Courtesy Oceanside Glasstile
Ontario by Monocibec is a glazed porcelain tile that resembles wood and is suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Although it’s made in Italy (as many ceramic tiles are), it contains 40 percent recycled content and is manufactured using a cogeneration system—meaning the byproduct heat is used to generate electricity instead of being released into the environment. Monocibec also contributes to an annual carbon offsetting program.
Photo Courtesy Monocibec
Fireclay’s Debris Series graces the kitchen backsplash in this renovated 1902 Colonial Revival home. Available in 112 lead-free colors, the ceramic tile is made in the United States and contains more than 60 percent locally sourced pre- and post-consumer content.
Photo By Michael Keeny/Courtesy Fireclay
This cork mosaic tile from Habitus Collection is recycled from the winestopper industry. The circles come on sheets and can be installed on floors and walls using mortar and grout.
Photo Courtesy Habitus Collection
Bungalow Bill offers a wide variety of vintage and antique tiles. Antique tiles can be expensive—these range from $5 to $150 each—so it’s best to use pieces like this Celadon Green Art Nouveau tile as accents to complement less-expensive field tile.
Photo Courtesy Bungalow Bill
This funky Ogee Cloud pattern is from Clayhaus Ceramics, a Portland, Oregon, company run by a young husband-and-wife team and powered by 100 percent renewable energy. They offer fun shapes and sizes in 45 lead-free glazes.
Photo Clayhaus Ceramics
Award-winning California artist Ellen Blakeley uses discarded tempered glass and found objects to create stunning mosaics such as Grecian Spa in Gold. The high-end tiles have been used to create sophisticated backsplashes, fireplaces and more—rock musician Carlos Santana even used them for a fountain in his driveway.
Photo Courtesy Ellen Blakeley
Even big-name companies such as Walker Zanger are beginning to offer more sustainable options. The Waterfall collection, shown in Rain Pattern, combines naturally honed slate with up to 70 percent post-consumer recycled glass.
Photo Courtesy Walker Zanger
Almost all of the scraps in Florida Tile’s Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, factory are diverted from landfills and used to create new tiles. Their proprietary technology allows them to crush and reuse porcelain, one of the hardest materials on earth. All of their products, including Rosa from the Cotto collection, are Greenguard-certified.
Photo Courtesy Florida Tile
An active member of the U.S. Green Building Council, the Trend Group offers nine tile collections that contain post-consumer recycled glass and contribute to LEED points; Liberty (shown in pearl) contains up to 75 percent.
Photo Courtesy Trend Group
Powered exclusively by wind and solar energy, Encore Ceramics recycles all of its clay, glaze and water waste back into its manufacturing process to produce beautiful tiles like the Circles pattern in Dune, Toffee, Thatch, Honey and Autumn. The wastewater recycling process saves more than 39,000 gallons of fresh water each year.
Photo Courtesy Encore Ceramics
In Huntsville, Texas, salvage-building renaissance man Dan Phillips creates unique, fantastical, customized homes using almost exclusively rescued building supplies through his company, Phoenix Commotion. Many of his homes feature handmade mosaics made with broken tile shards, arranged into creative patterns, often by future homeowners and untrained volunteers. Get Dan’s homespun, accessible instructions for making a tile mosaic by visiting and selecting “Tile-Shard Floors” under the “Info” tab.
Photo Courtesy Phoenix Commotion

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