The Benefits of Eco-Friendly Wood (And How You Can Get It)

Whether you’re a woodworker, DIYer, or home improvement aficionado, you’ll want to consider the ecological impact of your project.

One way people do this is by using eco-friendly wood.

This wood has tons of benefits that appeal to environmentally-conscious consumers! It can help reduce deforestation, the loss of biodiversity, and wood waste.

Are you wondering what makes eco-friendly wood, well, eco-friendly?

How about learning where you can buy some?

If you’re looking for answers to these questions, you’ve come to the right place!

We’re about to explain:

Let’s jump in!

What is eco-friendly wood?

Freshly harvested timber in a pile“Eco-friendly wood” refers to wood that was processed in an environmentally conscious way.

In other words, this wood is sourced, processed, and transported in a way that lessens the ecological impact of logging.

This process taken to manufacture eco-friendly wood is more beneficial to the environment because it:

  • Harvests in a sustainable way: Harvesters make efforts to prevent deforestation, such as through planting trees after logging.
  • Protects forest ecosystems: They’re also careful not to disrupt major ecosystems or cut down endangered tree species.
  • Minimizes logging runoff: The wood is produced in logging facilities that avoid polluting the area with harmful runoff. Manufacturers avoid using chemicals or products that could harm the environment and are careful to dispose of them.
  • Provides a natural alternative for artificial building materials: It doesn’t give off as many VOCs (volatile organic compounds) as laminate flooring. Artificial floors, on the other hand, contain more hazardous VOCs like formaldehyde.

Lessening exposure to VOCs isn’t just good for the environment; it’s better for your health too. Regular wood—as well as artificial flooring materials—are coated in finishes, stains, and glues that contain VOCs. And the toxic fumes that VOCs give off can impact our health.

Eco-friendly wood avoids the use of these chemicals—making it one of the best building material options for homeowners and woodworkers alike.

Why is eco-friendly wood important?

Land that has been loggedUsing eco-friendly wood can have a huge impact on our environment.

In general, wood is already one of the more ecological building materials.

For one, it’s a natural material so it provides a cleaner, healthier alternative to artificial materials full of harmful chemical compounds. It’s also a renewable resource, meaning we can plant more trees to ensure we won’t ever run out of wood.

This doesn’t mean wooden plank production doesn’t impact the environment at all.

Neglecting to buy eco-friendly wood can lead to more:

  • Harmful forestry practices: This can lead to deforestation or the loss of biodiversity. It can impact habitats and even endanger certain tree species.
  • More carbon emissions: The more trees are cut down, the fewer trees there’ll be to absorb harmful carbon emissions.
  • More harmful chemicals: Some wood is treated with stains and finishes that are full of harmful toxins. In sawmills, wood manufacturers might fail to correctly dispose of chemical wastes, which can lead to chemical runoff that’ll pollute the surrounding waterways.

In the end, neglecting to use eco-friendly wood can harm us and the environment.

On the other hand, using it could make a huge difference in the health of our homes, our world’s forests, and the world at large.

Buying eco-friendly wood can help us keep our planet’s air clean. It can also help us protect ecosystems across the globe. It can even help us reduce the amount of VOCs in our own homes.

But on top of ensuring a healthier environment, buying eco-friendly products can also help you make a difference in the lives of other people.

This is because many environmentally-friendly wood manufacturers also take it upon themselves to give their employees safe working conditions, as well as to protect the homelands of indigenous people they come across.

When your purchasing decisions are affecting people’s lives, and the world at large, it’s important to know what kind of purchases you’re making. You have to understand what kind of wood you’re buying, and where you’re buying it from.

Where you can find eco-friendly wood

A forest habitatSome beginner woodworkers and homeowners have a hard time telling the difference between eco-friendly wood and its competition. A lot of this has to do with the fact that many wood manufacturers claim that their wood is eco-friendly when it isn’t. This is called greenwashing.

Some manufacturers are outright dishonest about how eco-friendly their wood is, while others simply don’t understand what qualifies as sustainable wood.

Fortunately, there are a couple of tried-and-true ways you can be certain you’re buying eco-friendly wood.

You can do this by answering the following questions:

1. Does it come with an FSC label?

  • The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is the foremost authority on eco-friendly wood. If a plank of wood or wood product has been FSC-certified, it will receive a FSC label.

2. Has it been approved by other reputable sources?

  • If the wood you have your eye on doesn’t have an FSC label, you can check to see if it’s been approved by other reputable environment systems like The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). You can also check to see if it’s backed by other programs like the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Carbon Smartwood ™ Program.

3. Where does it come from?

  • Some areas of the world are more vulnerable to illegal logging and deforestation than others. This includes countries that lack logging restrictions, as well as those that have a higher lumber demand than they can support. Such a high demand causes loggers in these countries to log without paying attention to how they’re hurting forest ecosystems and wiping out endangered tree species. Lumber sourced from North America is typically safe, but lumber from South America and Eastern Europe likely comes at the expense of deforestation.

4. What wood species is it?

  • When you’re looking to buy wood, you should always check to see what kind of species it is. This is because some wood species are endangered. Buying endangered species will not only impact the ecosystems they were taken from but will also reduce the biodiversity of that area. Other wood species are not endangered but simply grow too slowly to be a sustainable logging option. Instead, you’re going to want to buy abundant, fast-growing trees like Douglas Fir or a strong, alternative material like bamboo.

Of course, you aren’t limited to buying wood from a home-improvement store.

Buying wood in-store can get expensive. Although, the cost will always depend on what kind of wood you want to buy.

Fortunately, there are plenty of other options to obtain sustainable wood at a more affordable price—namely by using reclaimed or salvaged wood.

Reclaimed wood includes any pre-manufactured piece of wood you can recycle into something new. In this way, a lot of people have taken old wooden crates and fence posts and have used them to make pieces of furniture.

You can find reclaimed wood through local reclaimed wood suppliers. You also might want to check out sawmills, farms, and construction sites to see if they have any wood they’d like to get rid of. If you’re looking for more variety, you can also scroll through thousands of options on eBay and Craigslist.

If you’re not interested in using reclaimed wood, your other option is to go looking for salvaged wood.

Salvaged wood is a bit different from recycled wood because salvaged wood hasn’t been processed before. It’s entirely natural and can be found in forests or show up as driftwood on a beach or riverside. This is one of the most budget-friendly options as most salvaged wood is free.

Besides buying the right wood, let’s look at some other ways your woodworking project can have a positive environmental impact.

Tips for making your woodworking project eco-friendly

A woodworker carefully tracing lines for cutting on a piece of wood to prevent wasteWhile it’s important to consider what kind of wood you’re buying, it’s also important to consider how your entire woodworking project can affect the environment.

Take a look at our list for more ideas to make your project eco-friendly:

  • Buy local wood: Buying local wood can decrease carbon emissions. This is because vehicles won’t have to move as far and pump out as much exhaust to deliver your wood to you. It’s also a great way to support local businesses!
  • Buy what’s essential: Only buy what you need to eliminate wood waste.
  • Create furniture that lasts: Make sure to buy—and create—durable furniture. Not only will this make for a great investment, but it’ll also help you reduce wood waste.
  • Create multifunctional furniture: Invest in multifunctional furniture to reduce the amount of furniture you need and cut back on wood waste.
  • Use a moisture meter: Moisture meters will tell you how much moisture is in a piece of wood. If it’s too high or too low in moisture, the board could warp, swell, or shrink. Buying wood with the wrong moisture content could lead to wood waste as you would essentially be buying a product that would gradually warp and become too deformed for use. That’s why it’s a good idea to use a moisture meter to test your wood before you buy it to ensure it has the right moisture content (and therefore, won’t warp when you take it home and work with it).
  • Use eco-friendly stains, paints, finishes, and cleaning products: Use eco-friendly cleaning products and finishes to reduce the amount of toxins you introduce into your home.
  • Don’t throw away scrap wood: Avoid wood waste by saving all your scrap wood and using it together on a project.
  • Safely dispose of materials: Be sure to clean up your workspace with eco-friendly products. Carefully dispose of any harmful cleaning substances or paints to avoid contaminating local water sources. One great option is to give these substances to a local household hazardous waste site.

All of these suggestions can make a big difference in ensuring your woodworking projects are both eco-friendly and sustainable.

In following these practices, you’ll be able to build durable pieces you love, all the while knowing that your project has helped make the world a better, healthier place.

Want to learn more about how your woodworking projects can benefit the environment? Check out our store for premium moisture meters that’ll help you make sustainable purchase decisions.

Eco-friendly wood species

  • Black Cherry Wood
  • Douglass Fir Wood
  • Pine Wood
  • Acacia Wood
  • Black Ash Wood
  • Oak Wood
  • Soft Maple Wood
  • Tulip Wood
  • Willow Wood
  • Elm Wood
  • Aspen Wood
  • Cottonwood