Sustainability: The Forest Stewardship Council

This week we wanted to address a topic that is very important to us: Sustainability. Being that the Maslow is largely constructed from wood and our primary intention in creating the machine was to cut wood materials, we thought it would be important to educate you all about the best types of wood to buy when it comes to preserving our forests. After all, we wouldn’t be here without them!

We have recently relocated to Portland, Oregon and have been put in touch with a lot of great contacts in the area, one of them being a man named Ryan Temple, the President of Sustainable Northwest Wood. Sustainable Northwest Wood is an interesting business working as a for-profit subsidiary of the non-profit Sustainable Northwest. They sell a wide variety of beautiful wood materials, all of which have been sourced locally and sustainably. We are lucky to live in a place where this is a realistic option, and were even more lucky to have the opportunity to learn more about what it means to source wood sustainably from Ryan himself.

Upon meeting with Ryan, he informed us that the number one reputable organization working to certify lumber producers all around the world is an organization called Forest Stewardship Council. Forest Stewardship Council is "an international non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world’s forests." If you look closely, you’ll see that the FSC certifies numerous products, many of which you can find in your local grocery story. If the FSC logo can be found on a product or a product’s packaging, this is an easy way to identify that the product came from FSC-certified forests. Luckily, this also holds true for any wood product you might buy from your local lumber yard or even Home Depot. We hope that when you head out to buy those 2 sheets of plywood and 3 2 by 4’s, you’ll purchase those that have the FSC logo printed on the wood.

The Forest Stewardship Council operates under numerous principals to ensure their forests are being treated sustainably. The four most prominent principals are:

  • No chemicals are used in the production of the forest plantation
  • No forest operating under monocropping techniques (only one species of tree planted in the plantation) can be FSC-certified
  • No clear-cutting of the plantation more than 40 acres at once is allowed
  • None of the trees in the plantation are GMO, or genetically modified organisms

By following these 4 main principles, along with multiple others which can be found at the FSC’s website, lumber producers are ensuring that their wood is being produced by the most sustainable means possible.

Another important factor to consider when purchasing wood to be used with your Maslow is whether or not the wood has been treated with formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a commonly-known, naturally occurring chemical that can have adverse health effects for those who come in contact with the chemical. Specifically, formaldehyde can cause irritation if it is breathed, which is common when one is cutting formaldehyde-treated wood, as the sawdust in the air frequently contains formaldehyde particles. Many wood products are labeled with information regarding whether or not they have been treated with formaldehyde, but the best way to know for sure is to ask your local lumberyard or hardware store employee. Luckily, if you live in California, the sale of wood treated with added formaldehyde is illegal, so no wood purchased in California should contain added formaldehyde.

Now that we’ve got the facts straight, you’re probably wondering “so where can I buy sustainable, FSC-certified wood products?” The answer is; just about anywhere! As stated earlier, we are lucky to live in a place where many people are aware of the importance of harvesting forests sustainably, and because of this there is easy access to these types of wood products. That being said, even if you don’t believe you live in a part of the country (or world) that has much of a market for FSC-certified products, be sure to check twice the next time you head to the store. Frequently, stores will sell many more FSC-certified products than you even realize. It’s just a matter of seeking out that logo, which will be printed on all FSC-certified products. Almost all Home Depots and other chain hardware stores sell at least a few options of FSC-certified products. Just ask an employee to point you in the right direction. And, if you’re going to be working with your Maslow in Europe, according to Ryan, you’d be hard pressed to find wood that isn’t FSC-certified!

Thanks for taking the time to check out this update. It is really important to us that as we send the Maslow out into the world, we can do it in the hopes that our community will use Maslow with the same respect for the planet and its people that we hold to be so important. If you want a reminder about what has been discussed in this update, or to see what other choices the Maslow team is making in attempts to be environmentally friendly, check out www.maslowcnc.com/sustainability.

Until next week,

Hannah, Bar & Tom

The Maslow Team