There was a time when paper, glass and wood were a part of everyday life. We used to drink milk out of glass bottles (some still do!). Our groceries were packaged in paper bags. All our furniture and cabinetry used to be made from solid wood (and some still are but at a premium price).
However, as populations grew, businesses grew, industries grew, and commerce went global; Logistics needed to be rethought for many of the everyday items. It was too expensive to ship heavy glass bottles, and furniture shops needed more efficient production and cost-effective materials.

Coming on the heals of WW2 came an interest and need for durable and cheap materials. Around the 1950’s plastic made an appearance and by 1970 almost every industry had switched to plastic in some capacity.


The downside with the switch to plastic is sustainability. Plastics are made from natural resources such as natural gas, oil, salt, and plant material. While plastics may be the best option for some products like piping that won’t erode, other products could be easily switched to a more natural material and the resources that plastics are made from could be used more effectively and lower other costs of needed products, just like fuel for our cars or houses. It also didn’t take long to realize that society has an issue with plastic waste.


Unlike glass and wood products, plastic will not decompose and is not easily recycled. Despite its cheap price and durability, there is a renewed spirit of reintegrating sustainable products into everyday life. We have been so reliant on plastic items, however, that veering away from them needs to be a common-sense process and not a cold-turkey switch leaving many businesses scrambling and consumers caught off guard as has been the case so far.

Sustainability is where wood has a large upper hand.


What does it mean for wood product industries to use sustainable materials? At its basic definition, sustainability is the “ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level” (Oxford Dictionary). In the long run, the materials we use today should be produced to meet our current needs without reducing the availability for the future.


In forestry, there is the FSC, Forest Stewardship Council and the SFI, Sustainable Forestry Initiative. These certifications ensure that strict sustainable processes are in place and used to manage forests. For a lumber company to obtain these certifications, they must be harvesting the trees at the appropriate size and quantity to ensure continued growth and availability.


Craftsmen Hardwoods purchases hardwood lumber, when possible, from mills that have obtained these certifications.


The way forests are managed is crucial to ensure sustainability. Many countries have taken steps to promote reforestation and afforestation. Reforestation includes planting trees in areas that have been forested or cleared, and afforestation is creating a new forest on previously unforested land.


According to the North American Forest Foundation website, it is recorded in 2020 that the softwood lumber industry planted approximately 3 trees for every 1 that was harvested. The U.S. plants over 1 billion trees annually, and Canada plants 600 million trees annually. In addition to lumber companies, various countries around the world practice urban forestry, planting trees in city limits.


Urban forestry claims to have several environmental and even health benefits. Some areas, including townships in south-western Ontario, offer free tree programs to the residents to promote local involvement in improving their communities.


The forest and lumber industries are also keeping up with technology to improve sustainability. The use of drones has been quite helpful for loggers to explore a forest to evaluate the overall health of the trees and identify which trees should and should not be harvested.

Some of these drones are equipped with sensors and radar that bounce light off the forest floor to give the loggers and forestry planners various levels of information including the height, depth, and slope of the forest floor along with other attributes to aid in managing and planning for the future.


RFID (radio frequency identification) tags are also used to track trees and any information about individual trees so the loggers can follow along through the logging process and utilize that tree in the most efficient manner.


Regardless of where individuals stand on the environment and government policies, it is very clear that if a resource is used without replenishment, it will not be an available resource in the future. The wood industry has some of the most successful practices in sustainability and unlike money, wood does grow on trees!


The strength and versatility of wood makes it one of the best choices in the manufacturing of countless products. Even the by-products of lumber are versatile in their uses. Wood pulp makes paper. Sawdust and wood chips make medium density fibreboard and particle core sheets.


Even dead or dying trees are useful for heating homes. There are countless benefits to using wood products and seeing the call for renewable resources brings hope that with technology and ingenuity, there will be numerous uses for wood well into the future.  

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