Of all the commodities available to humans, wood is the most active product in today’s economy.
Wood products are used in practically all marketing and manufacturing practices.
There’s no doubt–wood is a precious natural resource worth sustaining.
Consider the amount of paper products used in developed countries like Canada, the United States, and Europe; photocopies, newspapers, magazines, junk mail, and other paper consumables.
The total annual wood product consumption worldwide is more than plastic and steel use combined.
Another fact worth considering is that half of the wood used globally is for fuel.
Close to two billion people are dependent on wood and charcoal as their only source of heat and cooking.
And 1.5 billion people have less fuel wood to provide for their needs.
Wood Gone Bye
A side note:
Recent information pertaining to this last year’s Christmas tree purchases indicate that Americans spent over $3.4 billion on buying Christmas trees in 2011. According to Bloomberg’s research, American expenditures for Christmas trees in 2011 breaks down to $800 million spent on 25 million real pine trees and $2.6 billion on 10 million artificial trees.
Of the artificial trees imported from China, 85% are reported to have lead poisoning and flammable concerns.
Approximately 25 to 30 million real Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. alone.
Germany spends over $917 million per year and Canada over $60 million on the purchase of Christmas trees.
You may exclaim, “So what?!”
Well — we’re running out of trees…
The logging industry is trying to supply the international demand for timber. Due to population and poverty pressures people are converting forests to farmland and cutting large areas of forests for fuel wood. And the mining, dam, and oil industries are cutting trees down for roadways, as well.
In addition, many of the products obtained from clearing these forests are gasoline, oil, food, cosmetics, palm oil, paper products, aluminum, metals, gems, and electronic components, to name a few.
According to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, (FAO) estimates, tropical forests in places like Africa and Brazil lose about 1 acre (the size of a football field) every second, every day. Countries like Haiti was once 80 percent covered with forest; only to have their forest destroyed leaving their land eroded and unproductive.
On one hand, many species lives are threatened and added deforestation causes increases in carbon emissions which some argue causes climate change.
Others find joy and beauty in our natural resources. In fact, in the U.S., $4 billion is added to the American economy from timber; whereas, close to $224 billion is provided by forests, and tourism to national parks and places of recreation like fishing, bird watching, hunting, hiking, and camping.
Contrarily, logging provides many jobs and supports many rural communities.
Finding answers to these dilemmas are difficult to uncover. Solutions depend on our worldviews and values. Nonetheless, you can help in diminishing the damage caused by deforestation by lowering your impact.
Here are some ways you can help:
- Use email whenever possible
- Recycle and reuse–use the back of paper for scratch paper
- Don’t buy tropical hardwoods like teak, mahogany, rosewood, and ebony
- Buy products labeled “good wood” or other sustainable harvested wood– FSC 100%; FSC Mixed Sources; FSC Recycled
- Do purchase Brazil nuts, mushrooms, cashews, rattan furniture and other non-timber products
- If you camp or hike don’t build bigger or more fires than you need
- Don’t carve on trees or pound nails in them
What Can We Do?
One of the most important questions for those concerned about our environment is how we can live sustainably using our natural resources; to survive and provide food, clothing, and shelter to our families; to economically and emotionally prosper while protecting our environments.
While we’re still in a debate of whether to protect our environment, it’s important to be aware that we’re borrowing the planet.
We are responsible to be cognizant of what’s happening around us for the sake of future generations.
Though there are economical and political concerns pertaining to sustainability and utilizing healthy habits, it’s more of an ethical issue I can’t ignore.
What suggestions can you make to answer this question?