Wood. The mere mention of the word draws up images of sawdust, lumberjacks, and carpenters creating art from something as simple as a log. Its value has always been known, and throughout centuries it’s been a prized material for fuel, construction, and art. With the advent of modern technology, however, wood use has declined in the American home.
It wasn’t too long ago that American homes were adorned with furniture and cabinets made from oak, pine, cedar, cherry, or any other type of wood. Carpenters were common and their craftsmanship was unparalleled. Unfortunately, wood craftsmen, along with the cabinets, headboards, chairs, and tables they once created, are now scarce.
During a recent trip to Mexico, I was enchanted by the beautiful cedar furniture that adorned some of the hotel rooms and homes. It was a pleasure to feel the solid pieces of wood and know it wasn’t just some faux wood product with a laminate mask. The propagation of “assembly required” furniture hasn’t permeated the Mexican landscape, and the department stores that sell this type of mass-produced furniture price it equally or greater than what a carpenter charges.
In the U.S, “assembly required” furniture entered mainstream homes due to a false green religion that led many to believe all tree harvest was evil, as well as a price-centric society that believed in “the lower, the better.” This led to a decline in carpentry and the introduction of lower-priced faux wood products that suffered from lower quality and potential health risks. This problem spread beyond furniture and into flooring and even construction materials.
It was once the norm for furniture and flooring to last generations if properly cared for. Now you’ll find yourself at the same store again and again, replacing a broken product every few years. The old saying “you get what you pay for” has come down as a hammer on the “the lower, the better” buying mindset as people rapidly hemorrhage money over the long run.
Wood is an amazing material that is renewable, sustainable, reusable, and recyclable. It’s poised to be the sustainable material of the future as more and more environmental scientists endorse its use. If we all take a moment to analyze how wood is really harvested, planted, and turned into a finished product, we will quickly see the enormous benefits that it brings to our society.