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Buying Wood: How to Find Sustainable Lumber for your Project

If you’ve been a long-time customer of Target Coatings, you know our commitment to not only water-based coatings, but also our greater commitment and concern for the environment. Since our beginning in 1988, we’ve worked to find ways to ensure that our EMTECH water-based finishes are ultra low-VOC, to protect our habitat, and humanity. And when we’re working on projects of our own, we look for either sustainable wood or salvaged wood. But how do you find sustainable wood–and what is it?

What is Sustainable Wood?

Sustainable wood is wood that has been certified as sustainable. That means that, first and foremost, the wood is “legal”–believe it or not, some wood that enters the country has been sourced illegally, even though a law went into effect in 2008 banning the import of illegally sourced timber into the U.S.

The thing to look for when shopping for sustainable wood is the FSC logo. The FSC–Forest Stewardship Council–label ensures that the wood has come from a forest that’s managed for sustainability. These forests utilize lower impact logging methods and also promote reforestation. (You can see what the FSC label on some lumber looks like here).

The FSC outlines 10 principles (and 57 criteria) for a forest to be FSC-certified. The 10 principles, paraphrased, are:

  • Compliance with local country laws, international treaties & agreements, and FSC principles
  • Tenure and use rights and responsibilities are to be clearly defined, documented and legally established
  • Recognition and respect for legal and customary rights of indigenous peoples to own and manage their land and resources
  • Maintenance of long-term social & economic well-being of local forest workers and their communities
  • Efficient use of forest products and services to ensure economic viability and environmental & social benefit
  • Conservation of biological diversity, and maintenance of the ecological functions and integrity of the forest
  • Long-term operations management plan that is written, implemented and kept up-to-date
  • Ongoing monitoring of forest management operations and their social and environmental impacts
  • Maintenance of high-conservation-value forests
  • Planning and management of plantations in accordance with these criteria and in a manner that complements and promotes the restoration and conservation of natural forests.

As you can see, FSC certification is the “gold standard” for identifying whether lumber is sustainable or not. However, it’s not always easy to find the label–and in fact, only about 20% of all wood products in the U.S. have the FSC certification.

The best thing to do is to ask your lumber dealer where the wood is sourced from, and which lumber company harvested it. If you can’t readily get that information, try looking elsewhere.


1 thought on “Buying Wood: How to Find Sustainable Lumber for your Project”

  1. Look for wood with FSC and PEFC certification. These certification mark wood prodcut as environment friendly and sustainable. So, whatever product you chose, look after for these certification.

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