American Hardwoods: An Environmentally Friendly Resource

Written By: Bob Miller

Last month, I wrote about creating a healthy environment in your home for your family and pets by using products made from American Hardwoods. This month I will explain why these products come from one of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly resources. 

Hardwood forests are prevalent in every state, in the U.S. mainland.  However, the eastern half of the U.S. grows the majority of hardwoods.  This region extends from Minnesota down to Texas, all the way over to Florida, up to Maine, and all states in between.     

The hardwood forests in the U.S. are very sustainable.  Sustainability occurs when there is an ecological balance when a resource is removed yet that resource is not being depleted for future generations.  Each year we have more growth in our forests than what is removed through timber harvests.  The American Hardwood Export Council has done an excellent job representing the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture’s data, by state.  Indiana is growing almost twice the volume than is harvested.   The U.S. is growing two and a half times more volume than is harvested.  Refer to www.americanhardwood.org/environmental-profile/interactive-forest-map to see this data.

Hardwood forests and the products manufactured from the hardwood trees are environmentally friendly.  Hardwood trees are constantly consuming carbon dioxide (CO2) to assist with the production of a glucose substance that trees use as food.  The tree will break the carbon dioxide compound down, utilizing the carbon molecule to produce the glucose substance, and emit the oxygen molecules into the atmosphere.  Carbon is a greenhouse gas that negatively impacts the environment; therefore, trees are essentially improving our world. 

Hardwood trees have a life cycle, and that life cycle is dependent on the tree species.  Typically, most tree species can live to be approximately 150 years old.  Disease (viruses and fungi), weather (lightning and wind), fire, or insect infestations will eventually take the life of the tree.  When a tree dies and begins decomposing in the forest, it will release the unused carbon back into the atmosphere, further contributing to negatively impacting our environment.  Forest management is the practice where timber, wildlife, and plant life are managed to maintain or improve the overall forest ecosystem.  When a tree is at the end of its life cycle, it will be harvested to open the canopy to get sunlight to the forest floor.  Tree saplings grow close to the forest floor and need sunlight to grow.  Sunlight gives saplings the opportunity to become bigger trees. 

The tree that was harvested in the prior example will also produce income to the landowner since it has value to the lumber industry.  The value in that tree will disappear once the tree falls and begins to decompose in the forest.  In addition, forest management creates jobs.  Jobs are created when the trees are manufactured into lumber, and when that lumber is utilized to manufacture furniture, flooring, cabinetry, and millwork.  In 2016, an economic impact study was completed that showed the economic output of the hardwood industry in Indiana was over $10 billion and that industry employed over 61,000 people.  Refer to http://hardwoodfederation.com/Hardwood-Industry-Economic-Impact to see this data.   

Let us circle back to the carbon stored in the tree, which is now in the lumber that was used to produce the furniture, flooring, cabinetry, and millwork.  That carbon will always be stored in those products while those products are in use.  Did you know 50% of the wood’s weight in the furniture, flooring, cabinetry, and millwork is the stored carbon? Be a part of positively impacting our environment by purchasing products made from American Hardwoods.

We have been blessed with a sustainable and environmentally friendly resource when it comes to the hardwood forests in the U.S.  Forest management will keep our forests healthy, reduce our carbon emissions, and improve the forest ecosystems.  The products manufactured from these trees are beautiful, resilient, environmentally friendly, and can be enjoyed for generations.     

Reasons Why You Should Consider Hardwood Flooring Exposed.

Since the dawn of time, humans have argued over a very pressing issue: hardwood or carpet flooring? The debate continues to this day – some will praise the comfort a carpet provides while others prefer the more polished look of hardwood floors. But we hold a firm belief that, no matter what, hardwood floors are the way to go. Below is a list of reasons why you should consider hardwood flooring exposed.

1. Hardwood floors are easier to clean and maintain.

Carpets are prone to holding dust, skin, and hair. To get rid of these stomach-churning particles, you’ll need to vacuum. If you want them eliminated almost entirely, a professional carpet cleaning service might be necessary. Luckily, hardwood floors don’t hold on to these particles. A quick sweep or mop will do the trick to keep your floor clean. We also all know the dreaded feeling of spilling a drink on carpet – it’s nearly impossible to get rid of the whole stain. With hardwood floors, just grab a paper towel or rag, and you’re good!

Hardwood Flooring Exposed.

2. Hardwood floors are more durable and longer lasting.

As long as your hardwood floor is properly maintained, it can last for decades. Even a dent in the floor can be alleviated easily with a minor repair. They can be refined and polished to keep fresh and clean. Hardwood floors also take much longer to go out of style – remember shag carpets? Yeah, we’d like to forget that, too.

3. Hardwood floors are more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

While carpeting is usually manufactured with synthetic fabrics like nylon or polyester, hardwood floors come from nature’s greatest gift: trees. They are produced naturally and created using the most abundant renewable resource in the world. You also have the option to research how sustainable your hardwood flooring really is using industry standards set by the Forest Stewardship Council and other like-minded organizations.

4. Hardwood floors can help you save energy.

Since wood is a conductor, hardwood floors allow the heat to pass through and circulate in your home, unlike carpet which acts as a barrier for hot air. This means longer-lasting heat, and consequently, less work from your furnace, and most importantly, lower heating bills.

5. Hardwood floors simply look more stylish.

Hardwood flooring is becoming trendier as the years go on. There is a seemingly endless amount of wood types, colors, and designs you can choose from that can bring out your inner interior designer. Different stains and polishes can help make your floors even more unique. Plus, a rug can really tie a room together.

Let’s face it: carpets are losing their popularity. If you want to keep current, hardwood flooring is the most logical option. For environmentally-conscious folk, there is nothing better for a home than a nature-friendly material like hardwood. And for those who love interior design, there are more opportunities to use your creativity and imagination, enabling you to put together a perfectly styled home. If you are currently building or planning on building a home, definitely think about installing hardwood instead of carpet – maybe, soon enough, this debate will end for good.