Sunday, August 2, 2009


Ruth Sandra Sperling
RSS Designs In Fiber - Internet Shop of Handmade Items In Fibers

As far as I'm concerned, sustainable is the only way to live, but with things for the home out there made in so many materials -- and some materials the average consumer may just not know that much about or not realize that buying it goes back to something being done that somehow damages the environment.

But when it comes to wood products, there are ways to be fairly sure that there is at least some kind of ethics behind the source of the wood use to make the product.

There is the Forest Stewarship Council - and it handles certifying forests around the world and their products that are managed sustainably. That means that when you are buying something made from new wood - you can look or ask for a certification that the wood comes from a forest that is managed for Land and Forest Health.

Now there are other organizations in the timber and paper and furniture industries that claim to do proper certification of sustainable forestry, but I have rather high standards and so do the environmental attorneys that I listen to (NRDC, EarthJustice, The Wilderness Society, The Nature Conservancy).

The Forest Stewardship Council certification of wood products is the only certification that I have read that these environmental attorneys feel is really based on standards that result in properly managed forests for overall ecological integrity.

Personally, I only buy wood products that I feel good about buying. For me personally, I don't need that much and I am not one of these people who re-decorate my home or work spaces on a seasonal basis -- though I have known of people who do!!

Mostly used or vintage wood pieces are good enough for me -- some, I prefer over new ones, though I can't say I would never want something made in new wood.

But I feel so strongly about protecting the forests left on the planet -- and planting trees for ecological health -- that I would never buy a wood product that I knew was made from a clearcut -- actually, I would want any wood product that I bought to be made from wood that was harvested "single selection" -- meaning one tree at a time - and in such a way as to not damage other trees (or their root structures) around it.

Aldo Leopold ( one of my favorite conservation writers) and his family and supporters (Aldo Leopold Foundation) have written and done research on this issue of susatinable forestry for generations now - just for one example .

Smaller wood products can be made from the various pieces of wood that can be found all over a forest floor -- in fact, it can be beneficial to collect these pieces of wood (sometimes called debris by forest managers), because if left in the forest these pieces of wood (the debris) could create what is known as a "fuel ladder" for a fire and increase the fire risk/hazard -- so picking them up for whatever use is beneficial in reducing fire risk/hazard!

In the Angeles National Forest, the National Forest just to the south of where I live, you can get permits to go around picking up these pieces of wood littering the forest floor for personal use -- the US Forest Service encourages it and it is part of their Fire Hazard Reduction program (I did at one time know someone who had such a permit to get wood for making things).

If you check around the Internet, you can find articles about how much of the original forest that covered this planet is left -- and I have seen the figure of 4% (yes, that means that 96% is gone), but I am not qualified to state what the actually accurate figure is. I just know that we have relatively little forest left and there are so many benefits of forests: shade, trees hold water in the lands, trees clean the air and water -- and we don't have those benefits for the percentage of forest that is gone --and it worries me.

All I am asking and reminding people of -- when you decorate your buildings, whatever they are -- keep in mind that it will be better for everyone if you do it SUSTAINABLY!!

Ruth Sandra

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