Sustainability Through Product Lifecycle

Getty Images Sandra Mosinger/E+

Getty Images Sandra Mosinger/E+

The furniture industry requires the use of raw materials which are both precious and mundane in their origins.  One of the greatest criticisms of the high-end furniture industry is the consumption of hardwoods which has led to the destruction of rain forest habitats and vital oxygen-producing forests. 

If there is one thing about humankind, it is in our inability to learn lessons that are not gained through sacrifice.  “you can’t make an omelet without cracking a few eggs” and “the school of hard knocks” are just a couple of the colloquialisms that we use to validate our insensitivity towards actions that do not have a fully hypothesized conclusion.  Only when the cracks are visible do we begin to contemplate the rogue nature of our conduct.  Our history is littered with evidence where this path has proven successful to our advancement (the age of flight), and there are other examples where it has permanently scarred our legacy (human bondage).

To say that the historical method of forestry management was barbaric is an understatement.  Clear-cutting vast forestlands has resulted in the distinction of plant and animal species, the destruction of many unknown indigenous civilizations, and has permanently altered the greenscape of this planet.  That being said, to dwell on these past failures equates to trying to recoup a sunk cost.  Instead, we should be looking towards the future in what is currently being done correctly. 

Sustainable forestry is now a practical reality and is currently the industry standard.  Replanting regions that were slashed and burned to create farmland is now becoming a profitable economic model.

The goal is to provide sustainability or resources through longevity of the end-product.  The question I would pose is: is it better to build a table from a 60-year-old mahogany tree which will then be in a family’s possession for the next 60 years, or is it better to build a table from a 25-year-old pine tree, which will have a usable life-cycle of 5-10 years?