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Four Great Reasons to Invest in Environmentally Conscious Furniture

Four Great Reasons to Invest in Environmentally Conscious Furniture

At Ohio Hardwood, we pride ourselves first and foremost on our quality and selection. Whether you’ve come to our website or you’re a visitor to our retail location in Peninsula, Ohio, we pride ourselves on offering you some of the most beautifully aesthetic furniture, made to the most exacting standards and quality of construction. That holds true for everything we offer, be it one of our own pieces that we created in house, or one of our pieces of Thayer Coggin, Wesley Hall or Leathercraft Furniture.

Offering you quality is our highest aim, and there are many ways to define quality. Sometimes quality extends beyond the physical composition of a given product. There’s been a lot of talk in recent years regarding certain buzzwords that have implications in any industry. Corporate responsibility, eco-friendliness, environmental consciousness, sustainability are only a few of these. There are many others and each of them has a separate definition to the person or the group doing the talking.

There’s no easy way to quantify what it means to be environmentally friendly or corporately conscious. Rather, there are collectives of effort that help to make things a little better for all of the parties in a supply chain. While we’re not here to tell you what it means to be responsible, sustainable or ethical, we are going to tell you how we do our part. We’re also going to give you four great reasons for you to invest in furniture that is made according to certain standards of environmental consciousness and sustainability.

1. It’s Good for the Trees First and foremost, it’s great for the trees. It might seem counterproductive to state that making furniture from wood is good for the trees, but just hear us out. It all starts with some of our processes. Whereas it’s a custom in some parts of the industry to give trees less than a decade to grow and mature before harvesting, we source from local stocks that are given up to a thirty-year rotation before we harvest them. Yes, we harvest them and make furniture from them, but think of the implications for the community of trees and not just the individual.

Less than a decade seems like a long time for a human, but it’s really the blink of an eye for many of these hardwood species that we harvest to produce our furniture. Take White Oak, for example, out of which much of our own furniture is crafted.

A white oak tree can live up to 300 years; perhaps even longer. In fact, it’s not at all uncommon to find 150-year-old white oak trees even in disturbed and suburban areas. Now consider how long 7 to 10 years is in the life of a tree that can hit three centuries. Not that we feel the need to be more specific, but we will be. Most of the time, it takes white oak trees over 20 years to produce their first mast. To be clear - if young oak trees are harvested while they are too young, an entire generation of trees will have missed out on an opportunity to produce young trees to continue the cycle.

Now, it’s true that this is a very specific example. Other hardwood fruit trees like cherry and some others like maple take much less time to mature and sometimes even have shorter lifespans. The case remains the same, however. If trees are not given enough time to grow and mature before they are harvested, it hurts the entire ecosystem, even if it is only a tree farm. That’s one of the reasons that we wait up to 30 years between rotations before harvesting stock to produce furniture. It’s better for the trees, it enables them to reproduce and it also has a net positive effect on the rest of the ecosystem in which the trees were involved as a critical piece like any other species.

2. It’s Good for the Rest of the Ecosystem We started to touch on this facet of the process in the last section, but we figure it deserves enough of its own space to place it here. Trees don’t just have an impact on themselves, you see. Trees create an ecosystem such as a forest in which other species live and die, and on which they rely entirely for sustenance and shelter.

If a forest is in constant disruption or a tree farm for that matter, it will drastically alter that land’s ability to support a consistent ecosystem. There are some species of plants and animals that not only benefit from such early successional habitat, such as pioneer species. Some species even thrive on disturbed or fragmented land. Others, not so much. The unfortunate case is that the most sensitive species are the most vulnerable and are the first to be displaced when forest ecosystems are disturbed.

Even a farm is an ecosystem, as species grow in agricultural spaces unbeknownst to, or even despite the efforts of the farmers that grow crops or trees there. Be that as it may, it’s much better for the species in that shared space when the time is taken between harvests to enable trees to grow to maturity. Not only does a tree provide mast as food for animals, but it also provides shelter for them. A tree that is undisturbed for ten years can provide literally ten generations of birds or squirrels with a place to nest and raise young. Animals are sensitive to human involvement in disturbed habitat, both wild and agricultural. Moreover, the lowest animals on the food chain reproduce the most rapidly. Displace them, and the entire web feels the effects. So you can see, not only is sustainable harvest better for the species of trees themselves, and their offspring, but for all the species that share in the ecosystem as well.

3. It’s Also Good for the Furniture Now that we’ve covered the many ways in which sustainable sourcing and harvesting are good for the greater environment, we’ll tell you just how much it suits the furniture itself when the pieces are crafted from older, more mature wood.

Thirty years, say, is not a massive amount of time in the lives of most of the species of trees that we harvest and from which we craft our furniture. While that is true, it is also true that an older tree will produce a significantly larger amount of usable timber, especially in heartwood that can be used to produce the highest quality furniture. Nothing against the higher volumes of sapwood found in younger trees, but most heartwoods tend to be stronger and more resistant to warping and checking than sapwoods. An older tree simply yields more wood.

There’s another flip side to this as well, but it’s going to bleed over into the next category. Not only is sustainable sourcing of mature trees as part of a rotation better because it produces more and higher quality wood, but it eliminates the usage of certain materials that are common among other producers, even as a supplement. Many other manufacturers make use of chipboard, fiberboard, and particleboard which, while cost-effective, results in furniture that is less sightly, less strong and less environmentally friendly than true hardwood furniture. Speaking of which, consider the following point.

4. It’s Better for You Too While we have shown that investing in sustainably harvested, environmentally conscious hardwood furniture is better for the environment and the furniture itself, what we haven’t shown is how it can even be better for you. We aim to do so.

Of course, the visual aesthetics of our beautiful furniture are world-class. That applies to our own furniture that we design and build in-house as well as to the furniture we sell in our store and on our site such as Thayer Coggin, Copeland Forge, and Leathercraft Furniture. The furniture we offer is not only of the highest quality in construction and visual aesthetics, but what does that have to do with it being good for you?

A short moment ago we mentioned that our furniture is not created using grades of material such as or similar to chipboard, fiberboard or particleboard. Oftentimes those materials are made with epoxies or binders that are not only not environmentally friendly, but some of them are also toxic.

As a part of our green processes, we are proud to offer high-quality handmade furniture of our own and from suppliers like us that does not make use of toxic glues and abstains from creating filler materials like chipboard and particleboard using these materials. In general, those materials are only produced as a cost-cutting measure or when good hardwood stock can’t be sourced. We never take those shortcuts.

There’s More to Love About our Furniture and Processes There you have our four top reasons why you should invest in environmentally conscious furniture such as that you will find here on our site at Ohio Hardwood. In a nutshell, it’s good for the environment and it’s good for you too.

Yet, there are many other realms into which corporate responsibility extends than what we have explained here and we’d like to give a more thorough view of that. Consider the way our furniture is made. Our people are the backbone of our operation and we employ some of the most highly skilled craftspeople in the country.

They take their time when producing our pieces of furniture and each and every piece is benchmade and finished by hand. Every single item we produce must pass a thorough inspection before being shipped out. That’s one more thing that we offer among our many responsible practices. Putting people at the center of our operation means training them well enough so that they can leave but treating them well enough so that they don't. It's obvious that this is beneficial to our employees; it’s also interesting to note that it is decidedly good for business. Happy, healthy workers produce quality furnishings with great skill, care, and attention. That’s part of what we offer here at Ohio Hardwood Furniture.

We also do our part to reduce waste here in our shop while we’re producing our many beautiful pieces of furniture. Actually, we do more than our part. Since every piece is made and finished by hand, we have direct say in how resources are managed and how waste is disposed of.

For example, during rough working, we save the scraps of our hardwoods for use as fuel for heating. That can keep costs down and it also is a part of the way that we ensure that every piece of a harvest tree goes to good use. It’s also far from the only way.

We go farther than that. Any sawdust we produce gets reused as bedding for animals and other livestock. It’s soft, absorbent and protecting, making it ideal for use with sensitive animals. It’s one more way we ensure that nothing goes to waste. We even repurpose chips for use as mulch. In essence, we create furniture from the trees we harvest and then take all of the waste materials and find a use for them as well.

As you can see, we not only take the time to produce furniture that is sustainably sourced and produced, but we take every effort to take care of our skilled people and minimize waste. Those are some extra bonuses that come along with the investment in environmentally conscious furniture.

As you shop through our site keep this in mind, that everything comes at a cost and that we still manage to produce some of the most beautiful hardwood furniture in the country while adhering to strong, uncompromising ethical standards. Whether you’ve come for some of our own designs that give you the flexibility to customize in wood and finish, or you’re looking for designs in Hubbardton Forge, Wesley Hall or Leathercraft Furniture, you can find it here.

Of course, we’d also like to take the opportunity to welcome you to visit our store in Peninsula, Ohio. If you ever happen to be in the neighborhood, you should take some time to come see our showroom. You might even fall in love.