The Sustainability Of Western Red Cedar Furniture

Besides being beautiful, long-lasting and timeless, western red cedar furniture is eco-friendly. In a time when we have become conscious of our impact on the planet, we as a people have come to value environmentally friendly initiatives aimed at preserving and renewing those precious parts of the earth that have been critically damaged by man’s industry. Recycling and alternate sources of energy are just part of a global plan that must be put in place to ensure the future of generations to come. Using renewable resources, like wood, is not just a good idea; it may be our only choice if nonrenewable energy sources finally get depleted.

To get acquainted western red cedar furniture derives from the western red cedar tree, scientific name Thuja plicata of the species Thuja. Western red cedar is considered an evergreen coniferous tree that’s actually a part of the cypress family. But unlike cypress, which is indigenous to more exotic lands east, we have the good fortune of western red cedar being native to the northern United States, down through northwest California and Montana, and up through parts of southern Canada. Ironically, western red cedar is not what is called a “true cedar.” But along with other cedar varieties, like white cedar, western red cedar is commonly placed in the same family. The tree of the species can grow upwards of 55-75 meters tall and from 3-7 feet wide in diameter.

Wood, not just cedar, is considered the world’s one and only renewable building material, unlike brick, stone, cement, etc. That’s why it’s so popular, affordable and prolific as western red cedar furniture. The wood can not only be recycled, it can also be regenerated. Many lumber and paper companies make efforts to replant trees in deforested areas, so ideally in the future the number of trees cut down and replanted will even out. The efforts made to support these practice is made possible in part by government regulations and acts, regional boards, and a significant amount of professional accountability on the part of companies.

Besides being renewable, wood also has the characteristic of being biodegradable. That means it will spend infinitely less time in landfills than other building materials. Landfills are one of the worst sources of standing land pollution, not to mention a growing problem. With things like batteries and disposable diapers taking millennia to break down, easing the load by switching to wood is a vital move.

It also makes sense for companies, from an environmental and even a monetary standpoint. It is the assumption that companies give off huge amounts of waste product because they are cutting corners, while more sustainable, eco-friendly practices cost more money. This is not always the case. For instance, wood makes up 47% of the raw materials manufactured yearly in the United States. At the same time, wood production only uses 4% energy. Compare that to steel, for one, which requires 21 times the amount of energy used, but also 15 times more sulfur dioxide is emitted as a result.

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