April 28th is Arbor Day
You’ve probably never heard of National Arbor Day because it is not usually celebrated. But it should be just as important as Mother’s
Day or EarthDay. Why? Because our precious forests have taken a beating from catastrophic wildfires, illegal logging, invasive insects
and disease, air pollution, and human greed. And they need our help … immediately.
Recognize the True Value of Trees
Trees provide food, shelter and habitat for people, animals and birds. Not only do they provide oxygen that is crucial for life, but
they also reduce stormwater runoff, reduce erosion and reduce global warming. Properly placed trees around your home provide shade
and reduce cooling costs in summer, block wicked winds in winter, and provide beautiful flowers and foliage in spring and fall. When
you stop and consider all that trees do for us, you’ll come to realize what a miraculous gift they are. They help us more than we think.
By sequestering carbon dioxide (CO2), trees and bamboo clean the air and help slow global warming. According to the Arbor Day Foundation,
one mature tree (avg. 35 years old) will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen in exchange.
And that’s just in one year! Some trees can live 50-100 years or more. In addition, one tropical bamboo plant (actually a grass) can
absorb almost double that amount in five to six years.
Deforestation is a Big Problem
As most of us know, forests used to cover large areas of the earth, and just like water, they have been slowly disappearing for decades.
While some of the cause is natural, a large percentage is due to human ignorance or greed; clear cutting forests to make room for
agricultural land or stealing old growth trees that fetch high dollars for their treasured beauty.
- 20 million acres or 4.2% of the worlds tree cover were lost between 1990 and 2020
- 2,400 trees are cut down each minute
- Deforestation causes appx $2 trillion to $4.5 trillion in lost biodiversity each year
- The removal of trees for commercial agriculture accounts for 80% of tropical forest loss
Deforestation by any means is a problem in almost every country, but not all. In Sweden, for example, there are more trees now than
there were 60 years ago. Why? Because local farmers buy into the long term benefits of sustainable forestry practices. Local laws and
family traditions inspire planting 5 trees for every single tree that is taken down. We could and should do what Sweden does on a
It's Not All Bad News
The Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act has recently provided $250 million in grants to increase equitable access to trees
and green spaces in urban and community forests. The grant funding is available to community-based organizations, tribes, municipal
and state governments, nonprofit partners, universities, and other eligible entities as they work to increase tree cover in urban
spaces and boost equitable access to nature while bolstering resilience to extreme heat, storm-induced flooding, and other climate
impacts. Here is a detailed breakdown of funding awards by state and territory: State Allocations - Fiscal Year 2023, US Forest Service.
The Value of Certification
A large percentage of hardwoods sourced from overseas, especially in third-world countries, is illegally harvested without respect
to the people or the land from where it was taken. This is a huge problem that creates lower prices unnaturally, endangers ecosystems
and the survival of many plants and animals, and has a negative long-term effect on the environment.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) are worldwide non-profit organizations dedicated to the
preservation of our forests forever. Their standards employ the highest and best practices of responsible forestry in the world. The
FSC label is required by the USGBC’s (LEED) program for obtaining points toward green building certification. The inclusion of their labels on
a floor, cabinet, or millwork means that this wood is sustainably harvested from a well-managed forest. These organizations honor and respect the legal
rights of indigenous people where the wood was harvested, and support long-term social, economic, and environmental practices that
conserve our most valuable resources. Buying any wood or paper/cardboard products with the FSC or SFI label allows us to do our small part
in supporting sustainable forestry.
What is Green Building Supply Doing?
At GBS we’ve never sold flooring brands that did not employ sustainable forestry practices. Currently, this includes Kahrs,
Tesoro Woods, GBS Bamboo, Teragren Bamboo, Amorim and Wicanders Cork, and NovaCork. All of these brands have developed their
products utilizing responsible environmental practices for decades long before it was fashionable. We believe that only offering
these types of flooring products and not selling laminate or vinyl products sends a strong message and allows our customers
to vote with their dollars. Buying any one of our flooring products supports hardwood forests, bamboo forests, and cork forests.
We also repurpose all of our cardboard boxes that come in. We have a new machine that perforates them so they can be reused as
insulation/shipping materials in all the boxes that ship out. This also saves trees, saves on purchasing insulation, saves recycling and dumpster fees, and all
that goes with it.
Plant a Tree
While it’s fun to simply plant one tree in your backyard, it’s way more fulfilling to get a group together and plant dozens or hundreds
of trees in your neighborhood or community. Try it. It will help ground you to the earth and perhaps awaken some old feelings you used
to have when walking through a forest. In December 2019, the Arbor Day Foundation set a record for raising $20 million to plant 20
million trees! Many schools and local clubs and organizations create goals to improve their communities by planting trees.
The Arbor Day Foundation can help you find events, groups
and tree giveaways in your area.
Other Ways You Can Help
Join or donate to an organization such as Arbor Day Foundation, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Sustainable Forestry Initiative
(SFI), Sierra Club, and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) all
of whom promote responsible care of the earth’s forests, wildlife, and ecosystems.