As a sustainable wood furniture company, we don’t usually have much to say about hardwood flooring. But recent news & events in this area are so compelling I thought our readers would be interested to hear a few details.
Hardwood Flooring and the Future of the Forest
Every year about 7.5 billion square feet of flooring is purchased in the USA (Freedonia). If it takes roughly 1 acre of forest to produce 500 sq ft of flooring (UN Report by TimberGreen) then by my calculations it would take about 15 million acres to produce 7.5 billion sq ft of flooring (the amount sold annually in the USA). By comparison, the state of Vermont is 5.9 million acres so each year an area of forest about 2.5 times the size of Vermont is logged to supply the American wood flooring industry. Granted, my calculation is mushy and imprecise but even so, it begs the question: where is all that hardwood flooring come from?
Where Does Your Hardwood Flooring Come From?
We always encourage people to buy American made wood furniture because we know that environmental, health, safety and quality standards are high here in The States. The same is true for American made wood flooring, but that integrity built into American made wood products makes them more expensive than imports. So, not surprisingly about half of the hardwood flooring in America is imported (USITC Publication 4032).
The Trouble with Imported Wood
The imported wood products industry is now controlled to a large extent by organized crime. A recent report Liquidating the Forests: Hardwood Flooring, Organized Crime, and the World’s Last Siberian Tigers reveals that “demand for hardwood flooring and furniture in the United States, European Union, Japan, and China is fueling corruption and making the world’s last temperate hardwood forests into a major epicenter for illegal logging… Organized criminal groups send out logging brigades to steal valuable hardwoods from protected areas” thus decimating the last remaining habitats for iconic species like the Siberian tiger (in fact all species of big cats are now critically endangered as are all species of big apes, such as gorillas, chimps and orangutans).
Consumers Will Ultimately Decide the Fate of the Forest
As consumers we need to ask ourselves whether we want to buy the cheapest wood products we can without regard to the legality or sustainability of their origins. Think about it. How could it be that hardwood flooring from the rainforest of South America or the Russian Far East is half the price of local hardwood flooring?
There is a high price being paid for these bargains– we just don’t see it. Check out this video to see what the real price is, in terms of irreparable environmental damage. I’m betting, it’s a price you’re not willing to pay.
What You Can Do To Help
Maybe you’re not in the market for hardwood furniture or flooring but you still want to help protect the forest and it’s inhabitants. Join the folks at Sierra Club in signing this petition to enforce the Lacey Act which seeks to eliminate trafficking in illegal wood products and penalize those who import illegally harvested wood products and wildlife. Sign it today!
- EIA (Environmental Investigation Agency), Liquidating the Forests: Hardwood Furniture & Flooring, Organized Crime, and the World’s Last Siberian Tigers
- Timber, a book by Peter Dauvergne and Jane Lister
- TV Documentary, “Liquidating the Forests“
- Global Tiger Day, Organized Crime and Timber (the New Heroin)
- IKEA Cuts Down 600 Year Old Trees, Suspended From FSC
- American Wood Furniture Is Linked To Global Forest Conservation
- Where Does Your Furniture Come From?
- Is Your Wood Furniture Brought to You by Organized Crime?
- Organized Crime Is Getting Rich By Cutting Down The Rainforest
This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.