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Why Is Buying Eco-Friendly Wood So Important?

Why Is Buying Eco-Friendly Wood So Important?

December 19, 2022

When purchasing a new piece of wood furniture, whether a dining room table or a bench for the hallway, learn as much as possible about the wood. Where did it come from? How was it grown and harvested? Today, it's easier than ever to ensure that you're doing your part to contribute to sustainable practices, and a part of that comes from choosing wood furniture that's eco-friendly.

Though wood is far more eco-friendly in most forms than plastics or other materials, some forms are simply better than others in terms of what it can create or do for the environment. Here’s a look at a few of the most important components of your next buying decision.

Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood is one type of eco-friendly wood you could purchase. It's not a new concept, as the reuse of wood like this has been done for centuries. In short, this wood has been used for some other purpose in the past and is now being reused for a new purpose. It could have been wood that comes from an old barn or from a packing crate that’s transformed into a new use.

Where to Buy Reclaimed Wood

You can purchase reclaimed wood in various ways. There are some distributors that focus just on this type of wood sale, harvesting and gathering wood from various sources for the purpose of reusing it for something new and unique. Reclaimed wood used for the creation of furniture is a bit harder to find, but you can find retailers who offer these pieces.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood is the easiest way to be sustainable when it comes to making eco-friendly decisions simply because no additional trees are harvested. Still, there are some pros and cons you should know about this type of wood.

Pros of Reclaimed Wood

There are some great benefits that come from using reclaimed wood for your next project, such as:

  • Allowing the wood to be used for a new purpose means it does not have to end up in a landfill.
  • This type of wood is versatile in the ways it can be used, such as in the creation of wall paneling, shelving, cabinetry for a kitchen or bathroom, countertops, or tables.
  • It works to reduce the demand for newly sourced lumber, which means fewer trees need to be harvested to meet the needs of the consumer. It is a renewable resource that keeps wood out of the landfill.
  • Reclaimed wood is up to 40 points higher in terms of hardness on the Janka scale than virgin wood. That’s because it often comes from old-growth trees.
  • If you want to use exotic woods but don't want to harvest them from forests, this method gives you the same look and feel – often an aged, weathered look – without the risk of damaging more trees.,

Cons for Reclaimed Wood

There are a few potential drawbacks to using reclaimed wood, such as:

  • You don’t know what is in it. Some may have toxins trapped in the wood that are hard for you to know exist unless you know the history of the wood.
  • Reclaimed wood can be expensive because of the process it must go through in order to be prepared for use in a new way. That means these items may be more expensive overall.
  • Sometimes it’s hard to know if the wood is actually reclaimed unless you buy from a reputable provider.

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Urban Wood

Another type of wood worthy of consideration is urban wood, and we find it to be one of the best options for those who want to be as sustainable as possible.

What Is Urban Lumber?

Urban wood is newly milled wood that comes from trees located in urban settings. This type of wood is nearly always slated for the landfill unless someone takes the time to salvage it and use it for a new project. If a tree falls over into a roadway during a storm, the city cleans it up by removing that wood and disposing of it in a landfill. Urban lumber is an alternative solution for that wood.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Urban Lumber

There are a number of potential benefits to using urban lumber in your projects, but a few things you should consider before doing so as well.

Pros of Urban Lumber

The use of urban lumber, or buying furniture made from urban lumber, offers a few key benefits:

  • Urban lumber is beautiful and just as stunning as wood found in forests. Many times, these are older trees that have stunning grain patterns. They would be a wide range of species of trees, too.
  • It’s coming from the local community. That means it is not sourced overseas or across the country. It’s from your community and typically remains in that area.
  • By using urban lumber, it’s possible to reduce dependence on other types of wood, including wood from unsustainable practices.
  • Sometimes the urban wood used in the creation of a table or project is considered heritage wood, meaning the tree stood in that community park for decades, providing benefits to the residents for years.
  • It’s better for the environment too, because the wood isn’t going to a landfill.

Cons of Urban Lumber

While urban wood furniture offers some exciting benefits, there are a few cons to keep in mind as well:

  • It can be limitedly available, which adds to its rarity overall, making it a bit more special than the wood at the lumber yard.
  • Depending on the amount of wood available, there may not be enough to contribute to all of your needs. That’s due to the overall unpredictability of this wood.

Price Comparison to Traditional Wood

Urban wood can be competitively priced, often graded as #2 in local lumber yards. Most often, the price is comparable to traditional lumber, including FSC certified wood.

Where to Find Urban Lumber

The hard part is finding this type of wood. Sourcing it within a few hundred miles is often best. There are some smaller lumber yards that specialize in it or turn to a wood furniture creator that specializes in it.

Urban Wood End of Life

What Happens to Trees at the End of Their Lives?

The life cycle of a tree is complex, but it often lends itself to either a storm or another incident causing the tree to fall over, a disease in the wood, or simply old age that leads to rotting. The key is what happens next. Urban wood can be used for many things.

Become Part of a Tree’s Story

You can be a part of the tree’s life story. To do so, simply seek out urban wood furniture and bring it into your home.

Domestic Wood vs Exotic or Imported Wood

These are three different types of wood:

  • Domestic wood: Which comes from the U.S.
  • Exotic or imported wood: Wood that comes from outside of the U.S.

Typical Domestic Wood Species

Some of the most common types of domestic wood include:

  • Ash
  • Alder
  • Basswood
  • Birch
  • Chestnut
  • Poplar
  • Walnut
  • Oak
  • Maple

Pros of Using Domestic Wood

Using domestic wood is important:

  • It reduces the dependence of the country on other countries for the wood they need.
  • It’s far better for the environment when wood can be sourced locally instead of shipped (think carbon buildup) from around the world.

Selection of Exotic Wood Species

Some examples of exotic woods include:

  • Mahogany
  • Jarrah
  • Ebony
  • Bamboo
  • Zebrawood

Cons of Using Exotic Wood

A few key things to keep in mind:

  • The transportation of these items to the U.S. impacts the environment in many negative ways.
  • Not all countries have the same standards for production and management, meaning toxins could be present.

Certified Wood

The term certified wood refers to wood that’s obtained from responsibly managed forested areas. There are various organizations that certify that these practices are being followed.

List of Lumber Certification Entities

  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
  • American Tree Farm System (ATFS)
  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)
  • Sustainable Forest Management Standards (Canadian Standards Association)
  • National Association of State Foresters
  • Canadian Council of Forest Ministers

Pros of Using Certified Wood

Some of the benefits of using certified wood include the following:

  • You know that the wood is being produced in a way that's safe for the environment or at least meets the standards set.
  • It helps lessen demand for other types of wood products not grown and harvested in a sustainable manner.

Cons of Using Certified Wood

There could be some drawbacks:

  • This is not always fast growing wood, which means that there are limited amounts in some areas. That could mean it is harder to obtain than other forms of domestic wood.
  • The costs may be higher. Though it may be worth spending more for it, it is important to factor in the higher costs.

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Alabama Sawyer Uses Urban Wood

From salvaged wood furniture to custom designed urban wood furniture, Alabama Sawyer has made a point to ensure we do what we can to support the forests around us. A big part of that is simply knowing where our wood comes from. Take the time to learn more about our story to find out how we source wood.

Why Buying Eco-Friendly Wood Is So Important

Why does it matter where your wood tables come from? There are many reasons, but at the heart of this is climate change. As the ecosystem suffers damage, it impacts agriculture and the health of the environment as a whole. More so, choosing eco-friendly wood means you are not contributing to the problem. There’s less pollution because the wood isn’t being transported across long distances, and the local ecosystems are being protected. Proper propagation of tree species also helps to support a diverse ecosystem that helps to balance health and wellbeing. Take the time to learn where your wood is really coming from before you buy.