On the Ecology of Using Wood

Deforestation is probably the single greatest avoidable threat to our species. The simple fact is that we need trees. Trees create the atmosphere we breathe, and we are cutting down forests at an astonishing pace. I therefore think it's appropriate to have a few notes on my use of wood.

It's important to realize that only a very small percentage of the wood we cut down is used in furniture. Most of the trees we cut down today are removed to make way for grazing cattle. Ceasing to use wood or eat meat is not a priori the answer; I believe that we need to learn to take only what we need, use it responsibly, and replace what we take. The answer lies in lowered consumption and responsible management. The Rain forest Action Network has a wealth of facts available on what we're doing to our forests.

My furniture is designed to last. It is my hope that it will outlast me, and that it will outlast you. Furniture from Ikea, John M. Smythe, or Ethan Allen is likely to be replaced, and replaced again, yet it takes as much wood to make such furniture as it does to make mine (probably more if you consider the likelihood of waste in modern mass production). Because I make each piece by hand, my work is expensive. I hope, of course, that it will therefore be cherished and cared for, and that you will be far less likely to need or want to replace it (and thus consume more wood). The best case scenario is that furniture I make will last as long as it takes for a new tree to grow.

Forests can be harvested responsibly, and there are a growing number of suppliers who offer wood categorized as "sustainable." If desired, I can use only such wood when creating your piece. However, in the long run, I feel the best practice is to demand the responsible use of all raw materials, including wood. Consequently, I use a variety of woods from around the world. Placing a value and price on a species of wood actually helps protect that wood by making it a valuable resource, rather than simply burning or cutting it down to get it out of the way, or using it to make throw-away products such as paper and cheap disposable furniture. Sadly, the vast majority of our trees are being cut down for these latter reasons.

I feel strongly that crafting beautiful, long lasting custom furniture and using wood to make something that will be cherished and cared for over many years. This approach is a very good way to help protect our natural resources, as we then value and appreciate the materials we do use, instead of carelessly consuming without thought to the consequences.


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