The definition of sustainability is the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, with a goal of supporting long-term ecological balance. Nowhere is this more evident or easy to achieve than in the wood we use for our homes and businesses. Hardwood flooring, cabinetry, architectural elements and furniture have two purposes: to bring beauty and longevity to any space as well as to create the desired decor without having an adverse effect on the environment.
There are many reasons why people turn to sustainable hardwood for their home’s flooring. Those reasons can include:
When thinking about sustainable forest management, one can’t ignore the costs to the surrounding ecosystem if proper steps aren’t taken. After all, our forests affect anything from air and water quality to health of the surrounding wildlife. Not all woods are taken from sustainable sources. Take certain exotic woods, such as teak, for example, which are known to contribute to deforestation of tropical rainforests, which leads to the harming of endangered wildlife and other parts of global ecosystems.
According to How Stuff Works, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forestry Service says the U.S. demand for wood products is growing at twice the rate of the population. The purpose of sustainable hardwoods is to maintain a natural balance of tree and plant diversity. Harvesters are careful to reduce the impact of the harvest through maintenance of tree buffers around waterways while reseeding areas that have been decimated by lumbering equipment.
Selecting sustainable wood means knowing the type of wood desired and the geographical location from which it came. As a general rule, hardwoods grow more slowly than softwoods, making them more valuable in terms of sustainability. By contrast, softwoods like pine and fir grow quickly, which is why they’re typically used for lumber products because they can turn over so fast.
When researching sustainable hardwood, it’s important to look for wood that is certified as such. You’ll find these certifications listed by organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council, giving consumers peace of mind about their purchase. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) oversees more than 100 million acres (40,468,564 hectares) of forest in the United States and Canada that meet certain environmental and social standards.
Here are some good choices for sustainable hardwood:
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