We hear all about sustainability and know that it is in all of our hands to make good decisions but what does it mean to be sustainable? We’re here to offer some information you may find useful in your hunt to better the earth (and your home).
According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) 7.3 million hectares of forest are lost each year. This is approximately the size of the country of Panama. To put this in prospective an average 1200 sq ft floor requires 12 trees that are at least 18 inches in diameter and ten feet long. Thanks to social media trends are moving faster than ever. A new survey finds nine out of ten home owners plan to remodel their home, most of them ripping out and replacing their flooring. Across our country, across our world those tree numbers become staggering.
What is sustainable wood?
Sustainable wood comes from sustainably managed forests. It’s renewable because the forest stewards manage the landscape to prevent damage to eco-systems, watersheds, wildlife and the trees themselves, taking a long term rather than short term view of the resource.
Sustainability in this context means the forest should still be there for your grandchildren and great grand-kids, and be able to soak up carbon emissions and keep our air clean for generations to come, as well as a being haven for wildlife.
Wood from unsustainable sources, on the other hand, is chopped down without a second thought leaving bare areas that, unless they’re carefully treated, never really recover to their former glory. The effects are clear – illegal logging leads to wholesale destruction.
Which woods are most sustainable?
Timber is usually classified as either hardwood, from broad leafed trees, such as Beech and Oak, or softwood from conifers like Pine and Fir. Simply because they’re replaceable, fast-growing species like Pine trees tend to be more sustainable than slow-growing trees like Oak. Oak forests have to be managed carefully to make them sustainable, grown and harvested in the right way, but it can be done.
The EU has introduced legal measures to protect its woodlands and forests, and these days more trees are planted than felled. It’s great news for the future, with EU forests actually growing instead of diminishing. Because the law places a minimum requirement on replacing harvested trees as well as limiting annual harvests, buying European wood is usually a safe choice.
Wood sourced from Asia, Africa, South America and even the USA and Canada comes with fewer guarantees. These sources can be made sustainable through hard work, determination and dedication to the environmental cause. Several international organizations are involved in assessing forests across these regions. But they have a long way to go.
How to identify sustainable wood
Always look for official certification of the wood’s sustainable source, even if it says it’s from the EU. There have been questions about wood from some EU sources, for example illegal logging has long been suspected in Russian and Siberian forests.
The Forest Stewardship Council – FSC is an independent, non-profit organization promoting responsible management of the world’s forests. Their certification system provides internationally recognized standard-setting and trademark assurance to anyone, business or individual, who is interested in supporting responsible forestry.
The FSC logo is something you can rely on, and there’s also the PEFC logo, a sign that the Programme for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification has been involved. Together they help guarantee wood comes from sustainable sources, is replaced after harvesting, and is taken without harming the environment and neighbouring ecosystems.
All of this is great but here in Canada we still have some red tape to identify and more research to do to make sure the wood we are sourcing is, in fact, sustainable.
How to sustain your sustainability
Any floor you choose is really only sustainable if it can last. Choosing a product with a wear layer that can be refinished in the future allows you to enjoy your floor for decades and change the colour as styles change.
Reduce, reuse and recycle
The most sustainable floor is, of course, the one you already have. Sanding and refinishing your existing floor is the best way to save the trees. Every day we transform hardwood floors to their former or new and improved glory. We are able to add new wood to an existing floor if our customers are adding rooms or removing walls. We have long term plans for maintenance and refinishing so your hardwood will last decades. Our products are all water based, low VOC and green guard certified.
Becoming sustainable is important to us personally and professionally. We are always researching and finding more ways to provide exceptional floors while protecting this Earth we love. Joins us in our movement to marry style and sustainability by seeing what we can do for your flooring needs. We are not perfect but we can promise to always be on the side of nature and do the leg work for you.