Sustainable is one of those buzzwords being thrown around a lot these days. But have you ever stopped to think about what it means?
To be sustainable, it’s the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources. It supports long-term ecological balance.
The United Nations has established a blueprint to help achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. It covers goals in all areas of life, from how a person lives to what they consume.
Goal number 15 is all about life on the land. It’s about doing our best to manage forests and halt or reverse land degradation sustainably. Forests cover about 30 percent of the Earth’s surface. Yet forests are being consumed at an alarming rate. What does that mean for our future?
This isn’t a post on forest practices. But you have to consider them if you’re going to talk about hardwood flooring.
Is hardwood flooring sustainable? Can you have what you love – hardwood floors – and still be conscious about making your home an eco-friendly place to live? Let’s start at the beginning.
What makes a floor sustainable?
When most of us think about sustainability, we go right to the materials being used. Hardwood flooring is made from wood. It starts with the forest, and the practices used to create the finished product.
But being a sustainable option considers much more than that. It also includes:
- The manufacturing process
- Every aspect of the supply chain and its impact on the environment
- How natural resources are used
- Wearability and how long the product will last
- Recycling at end-of-life
Sustainability is more than one point in time. To truly consider the sustainability of a product, you have to look at the entire lifecycle of the product.
The manufacturing process
To be sustainable at the manufacturing levels means looking at more than the final product. It considers every step the hardwood flooring goes through from the time it’s harvested until it winds up for sale in your retail flooring store.
In many places today, tree harvesting is managed carefully. According to the National Wood Flooring Association, for every one cubic foot of trees cut down, 1.66 cubic feet are replanted. That ensures there is always room for damage and other potential problems as it takes a forest up to 60 years to mature.
As trees are harvested and brought into production, different manufacturers use different processes. What chemicals do they use during production? How much raw material is disposed of after processing? If done correctly, wood production has very little waste. Excess wood can be used in a variety of things, from wood chips to paper, and other composite products.
Still, it’s worth checking with the manufacturer you are considering to see if their processes match your sense of sustainability.
Hardwood flooring is long-lasting
Have you watched the “fix and flip” shows where they peel back the ugly carpet to reveal beautiful hardwood flooring? With a little TLC, sanding, and a little bit of finish work, they look good as new.
That’s the beauty of installing hardwood flooring in your home. With proper care and maintenance, you can easily expect them to last indefinitely. You can find historic homes that still have the original hardwood flooring in place.
Compare that with other types of flooring like linoleum or laminate. With care, you can only expect these to last 20 years, while carpet has an even shorter lifespan at ten years.
Although hardwood floors aren’t the least expensive choice you’ll find as you browse through our retail store, you can expect to save money over time. It’s nice to know you can install beautiful flooring today, and not have to worry about replacement in your lifetime.
Impact on the environment
Head back in time to your science class in high school. Trees take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. That makes them a very important part of the environmental footprint, making them carbon neutral in the way they are grown and harvested. They have a very low environmental impact. As long as you select wood from sustainably grown forests, it’s an effective way to get the products we love while protecting the environment at the same time.
It’s also important to note that if you select the right hardwood flooring, and you use an eco-friendly installation process, hardwood flooring can actually improve the air quality of your home. This is because hardwood flooring is easier to clean and harder to mask things like animal dander, dust, and biological growth.
Of course, that means you’ll have to talk with a flooring consultant about the glues and adhesives used to install the hardwood, making sure it doesn’t contain things like formaldehyde or other pollutants. But if you select the right manufacturer for your hardwood floors, they can help you create a cleaner environment for your family to live in.
Hardwood flooring is also one of the few flooring choices that can be used more than once.
Whether you want to refine the way your flooring looks, or just want an updated color or finish, hardwood floors can be sanded and refinished multiple times.
If the wood is too damaged to continue being used as flooring, it can be ripped up and reused in other wood projects, including furniture or decorative features.
Reclaimed hardwood is popular in home improvement projects right now, especially if there are sentimental reasons to include it in your current project. Recycled wood brings out characteristics and personality you can’t find in newer wood. Plus if it comes from a place that holds meaning in your heart, it can give an added look to the aesthetics of your decor.
And if all else fails, you can always use wood as fuel. Since hardwood is biodegradable, in some cases you can burn it and use it to stay warm.
Is hardwood flooring sustainable? It may be one of the best flooring choices for your home to help reduce your carbon footprint and create a more eco-friendly environment for you and your family.
Stop by today and see our entire selection of hardwood floors. You’ll find the perfect choice for your home.