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Recycled Materials Series: Wood

There haven’t been many “wood recycling” campaigns out there lately, but making it possible to reuse one of our most valuable resources is vitally important. Wood is a durable resource -- it lasts for a very long time. Literally tons of recyclable wood are disposed of improperly every year in the form of old furniture, stumps, limbs, clean timber, and dimensional lumber. 

Wood’s low water content and dense structure make it highly resistant to decomposition. In other words, as long as it’s kept reasonably dry, it’s not going anywhere. We can take advantage of these properties and leverage them for a cleaner environment and more sustainable products.

Benefits to recycling and reclaiming:

Reducing fire hazards: Whether you have extra scraps lying around or a wood-framed sofa, you are significantly reducing fire risk by recycling. Wood recycling plants have the ability to store wood safely and help turn it into something new!

Saving the trees: When humans aren’t damaging nature, it’s fully functional on its own. Seedlings grow into large, oxygen-producing trees, which eventually fall, decay, and add richness and minerals to the soil so that new seedlings can grow. When you cut down new trees, they are permanently removed from the forest life cycle. Taking too much from our forests results in the dangerous levels of deforestation, disrupting economies, ways of life, and harming future generations. When you recycle and buy reclaimed, you’re helping to ensure that more trees will be saved, and our forests will stay green.

Cost Savings: Wood recycling helps reduce energy costs. Manufacturing products out of new materials takes significantly more energy than reusing. And wood recycling (for corporations and consumers alike) costs less than landfill disposal.

Marketing (for businesses): Making sustainable practices one of the pillars of your business differentiates you from competitors and drives sales to environmentally-conscious buyers.

Now that we understand the benefits, how do we implement the new strategy?

There are a few ways to tell if the wood products you’re buying are sustainably made. Never buy based on look alone (new wood can be made to look reclaimed by artificially dirtying it). Instead,  look for a “story card,” telling you where the wood came from. Most sustainable retailers are proud of their reclaimed/recycled wood, so they’ll make it known. You can also look for certification by the Forest Stewardship Council. FSC Certification ensures that a product came from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits to locals. 

Also, please take a look at the Wood Furniture Scorecard. SFC teamed up with the National Wildlife Federation to score many leading furnishings companies in North America on wood sourcing responsibility. The top scorers earned 12+ points in the categories of Responsible Wood Sourcing Policy, Responsible Sourcing Practices and Performance, and Additional Actions. Shop the Scorecard to find responsibly-made wood products!

The Sustainable Furnishings Council promotes healthy environments inside and out.  We provide comprehensive information on environmental, safety, and health issues in the home furnishings industry.  We champion initiatives that improve products and processes. The SFC and its members work to address sustainability and social issues, and offer clear information to consumers, the media, and other partners.  Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.