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Environmental Impact

At Vermont Hardwoods, we care about the environment and take steps to reduce our impact while we do our business.

Wood

Trees clean the air while they're growing, but once they start decomposing the process reverses. Cutting trees down before they decompose to use for wooden products stops the decomposition process. More information is provided on Obey Mother Nature's carbon page and by a National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) brochure (page 5).

Deforestation continues to be a problem, especially among exotic woods such as mahogany that are found in rainforests. The mahogany we buy is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to ensure that it came from a well-managed forest that is not in danger of deforestation.

Other than mahogany, our stock is United States hardwoods which, due to regulatory programs, are considered to be at low risk for illegal and non-sustainable harvesting. In fact, considerably more U.S. hardwood is being produced than removed. See a brochure published by the NHLA on the sustainability of North American hardwoods for detailed and additional information.

Some of the products we make produce a fair amount of "waste", but we have put it to use:

  • Sawdust is distributed for reuse and recycling in packing material and composite decking
  • Rippings (pieces left from boards when they're cut into smaller widths) are cut down for kindling

Chemicals

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are harmful when introduced into the atmosphere. Traditional stains, paints, and washes thin enough to apply by brushing or spraying contain VOCs that evaporate as the product dries. Spraying these products results in more damage because of the overspray, which is the product that doesn't get applied to the surface. We have never used this type of finish.

We decided to offer some of the New Traditions finishes once the technology of water-based lacquers suitable for wood finishing was fairly mature by the early- to mid-2000s. All of our stained finishes are water-based, which is good not only for the environment but our employees as well.

The oils and waxes we use in our Oil & Wax finish contain VOCs, but the compounds are larger and are not released into the atmosphere through evaporation. Since these products are rubbed onto the wood by hand, the VOCs are not introduced to the atmosphere through overspray either.

General Recyclables

We recycle the following items:

  • Paper
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Cans & Bottles
  • Batteries

Energy

Except for our Honduran Mahogany, all of our wood comes from Appalachian and New England forests. This not only cuts down on cost for transportation, but energy used for transportation.

We use efficient lights, some of which are on motion sensors that turn off when nobody is around. Our outdoor sign is lit with solar power during the evening (not night) hours.

Our equipment has been reviewed by Efficiency Vermont, and adjustments have been made to maximize efficiency.

During the winter, air from our dust collection system is recirculated back into the building, reducing energy consumption. We also burn waste oil from our forklift, saws, and vehicles in our waste oil furnace.