Say Boo to Bamboo
The message that Bamboo Flooring is more sustainable than hardwood flooring is a sad commentary on the traditional timber industry. The bamboo marketers have a point.
The typical timber harvest in the U.S. and the world is devastating to the forest and the community. Over-harvesting, clear-cutting, and high-grading are happening today, in most commercial timber harvests. The timber growers receive very low payments (if any) – timber prices are generally less than the cost of growing timber. The timber growers are the only part of the hugely profitable timber industry where the people don’t get paid a fair wage or make a business profit. Most timber is taken from the area to a big corporate factory, leaving little - if any - benefit to the local community (often there is long-lasting ecological damage left behind). Big corporations (and often a few of their buddies in the government) make all the money. Most timber harvests fail to meet the sustainable standards of all the “green” labels: Economic, Social, and Silvicultural soundness. Most hardwood flooring came from a devastating harvest – somewhere.
But, not all timber harvests are bad.
At Timbergreen Farm, near Spring Green, WI – we harvest just the natural output of our forest – a portion of the annual growth. We grow our good trees as long as they are healthy and vigorous. We watch nature, and encourage natural succession and natural regeneration – producing the most natural forest possible. When a tree dies or loses its growth vigor, we consider it mature and may choose to harvest it. Industry demand never affects our decisions in the forest. On the average, we take less than one tree per acre from our forest each year to supply our family flooring business.
When we harvest, we use the smallest equipment possible. Arthroscopic Logging techniques never do significant damage, but actually improve the forest each year. Logs are hauled an average of one half mile from the stump to the sawmill.
Logs are sawn with modern thin-kerf sawmills. The lumber is dried in our custom built Solar Cycle Lumber Dry Kilns, using natural wind and solar energy. Flooring is manufactured in our renovated 100 year old dairy barn. We haul the wood one time to the customer’s home – as we commute to work. We install and finish the flooring with eco-friendly water base varnish. We heat our home with the waste wood.
So please compare the highly manufactured bamboo flooring, shipped half-way around the world, to natural solid wood flooring from a local small family owned business. 100,000 small sawmills have been purchased the last few decades – there are many similar small business operations around the world who do things in a responsible manner. Some can be found at www.TimberGrowersAlliance.com - others may be in your neck of the woods.