Trees surround and support us. They capture carbon, produce oxygen and provide shelter for birds and other wildlife too. They shelter us as well: the floors we walk on, the furniture we sit on, the cabinets that hold our dishes and dry goods, the framing within our homes’ walls, the porches and decks where we enjoy a summer’s afternoon, the instruments that play the music that soothes or stimulates us—objects made from wood are everywhere. The list goes on and on.
- A young Jatoba tree in a park in Brazil
It’s no wonder our forests are dwindling. Here in the US, the demand for wood products is climbing at twice the rate of our nation’s population growth.
Worldwide, around 46-58 thousand square miles of forest are lost each year—that’s the equivalent of 48 football fields every minute.
What’s a woodworker to do? To begin with, get a perspective. The greatest cause of deforestation, for example, isn’t the demand for lumber, it’s industrial agriculture. This is particularly true in tropical and subtropical countries where enormous swaths of land are cleared to plant massive mono-crops of soybeans, cotton, maize or palm oil (hereis some backup on that), or to graze cattle. Paper production is another big factor. So is the lumber we use to build our homes and businesses, to craft our furniture and, yes, to make kitchen utensils.
- A small chunk of the Amazon rainforest... in tact.
There’s no way around it. Being human, especially in the developed world, typically means leaving a rather large ecological footprint. But whether your kitchen tools are made of wood or another material, they have an impact, as Brad so eloquently wrote on Earlywood’s “Sustainability Policy”
While we’re not excusing ourselves for our lumber use here at Earlywood, we’re trying to put it into perspective. No matter how simply we live, there are certain tools we need, others we may not exactly need, but nevertheless enjoy…and there’s a certain joy that comes with using a well-made tool, especially when you realize that Brad has devised a way to give back to the planet that has so generously given to him.
- A LOT of tree seedlings being nursed before they head to the Atlantic Rainforest
For about 3 years now, Brad has worked with The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion program to plant 100 trees for every one tree he uses at Earlywood. The best woods for our uses don’t grow here in the US, Brad tells me. They grow in tropical climates. So that’s the region Brad has chosen to target through the Conservancy’s reforestation program, specifically Brazil’s endangered Atlantic and Cerrado forests. One of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, the Atlantic Forest is also one of the most threatened, due mostly to ranching, industrial agriculture and urban expansion. Home to more than 10,000 plant species and over 1,300 vertebrates, the Cerrado Forest is also under threat. With help from people like Brad, The Nature Conservancy is working to promote large-scale restoration in both of these forests.
Recently, Brad decided to up the ante. Rather than donate 100 trees for every one tree used at Earlywood, Brad will donate $1 to the Nature Conservancy’s reforestation program from every order placed! Whether it’s an order for 100 items or just one, Brad will give a dollar to help “plant a billion” trees in Brazil. That’s a lot more trees than he was planting before.
This new program starts TODAY and we will have a page up on our website that tracks our progress. We'll be in touch when that goes live.
- A patch of Amazon rainforest cleared for other uses.
Earlywood is a tiny business compared to many, and one could say the environmental efforts Brad makes are just a drop in the proverbial bucket. But, as wise old Aesop once said, “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” I would venture to add that no act of environmental stewardship is wasted, either. So, as you’re serving up this venison stew with your Earlywood long server or using your flat sauté to cook up some of these morels, you might think about those forests in Brazil and give yourself a pat on the back for helping to replant them. For by purchasing from Earlywood, you do just that.
- AA and BB