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Sustainably Sourced Wood: What’s the Deal?

Sustainably Sourced Wood: What’s the Deal?

September 28, 2020

Wood is a renewable resource, and touted as sustainable for use in everything from paper products to clothing, but cutting down trees is bad for the environment, right? Join us as we dive into sustainably sourced wood, what it means for the planet, and how our products tie in.

We all know that trees are important- they literally give us the air we breathe.  This summer especially, our forests seem more precious than ever before. From record-breaking blazes in Australia and Brazil to the fires causing hazardous air quality for the entire west coast, the scale of disruption of life as we’ve known it in Portland is a painful reminder of our dependence on the health of the planet.  Nothing like having to wear a respirator to go outdoors to drive home the gravity of the situation. The wood we use feels like something to treasure-now more than ever. And it’s an ever present reminder of our founding goals as a company.
Nature is the beginning and the end of the conception of every product we make. In celebration of the beauty of nature, we make products that bring nature back into everyday life. Centering our product design around the beauty of nature and natural materials brings the feel-good touch of something real back into an increasingly synthetic world.  
As our products are inspired by and sourced from nature, it wasn’t even a question that we needed to ensure our products are not only sustainably sourced, but that we’re actively making a positive contribution towards the future of our environment. That means not just giving back what’s taken, it means giving more.  As a staple material used at Rustek, finding sustainably sourced wood was our first requirement to achieve this goal.  While wood may be a renewable resource, that doesn’t mean it is necessarily sustainable. Join us as we dig into the process of sustainably sourced wood and find out what the impact of your phone case really is.


 

What is sustainably sourced wood?

Sustainable sourcing has become a trendy buzzword as our society becomes increasingly aware of our impact on the environment. It seems to be popping up on all sorts of products. Everything from bathing suits to Bluetooth speakers is now "sustainably sourced." But there's often little explanation of how said items earned such an award. It can all get a little fuzzy, so we’re here to break it down for you.
When it comes to wood, there are a few main organizations that give certifications of sustainable sourcing. One of the most highly regarded is the FSC or Forest Stewardship Council. The FSC has 10 principles that must be met to receive their certification.  These principles require that forests are sustainably harvested (no clearcutting of entire forests). They also ensure harmful pesticides aren’t used, indigenous land rights are respected, and biological diversity is preserved.  The FSC holds businesses to a higher standard than bottom-line government regulations.  Businesses that are certified by the FSC also use a management plan. This ensures that the land remains sustainable for future years of tree growth and harvest. The FSC certification does more than ensure that trees continue to grow. It certifies that workers are treated fairly and ethically and animal habitats preserved. At the end of the day, the entire ecosystem surrounding an FSC certified forest is fair for people and the planet.

Why should we care about sustainably managed forests?

We don’t want to get into all the doom and gloom, so let’s keep it simple.  Healthy forests are the building blocks of a healthy planet.  Forests are home to almost half the world’s species, including many that are endangered.  They’re also a source of livelihood for 1.6 billion people around the world.  Not to mention that forests provide the air all of us need to live and breathe.  When forests start getting cut down, the climate (and our health) suffer. Because the carbon that is stored in trees releases when they are cut down and rot or are burned, deforestation is the second biggest cause of carbon pollution, which accounts for 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions. You’ve likely seen images of the massive deforestation taking place in the Amazon rainforest, but it’s not just an international problem.  Government regulations for forest preservation are much less strict in the USA than in other parts of the world. The clearcutting of forests is common practice throughout America.  This is why the FSC’s requirements for sustainably sourced wood are so important.
According to recent studies, forests take in about 30% of human carbon emissions.  Dang, do we owe them one! We’re happy to have a small part in the over 35 million FSC certified acres of forest in the USA that make sure forests get to keep on doing their lifesaving business.

Let’s take it to the next level.

Our wood sourcing not only follows the guidelines of the FSC for sustainably sourced wood, it goes beyond.  Here’s why. The sustainably sourced wood used in Rustek products is almost all reclaimed wood from dead or dying trees. So, the wood on the back of your phone case?  It actually came from a tree that would have decayed or burned.  What’s more, most of the wood harvested for our products comes from our neighbors in California. This means fewer miles traveled to get the wood we use from tree to your phone case.  Pretty cool right?  We sure think so.

 

But using wood is still...using wood.

Using wood, even sustainably sourced wood, contributes more to climate change than not using a resource at all. The good news is that when harvested correctly, wood is actually one of the most eco-friendly materials on the planet. Wood is a naturally renewable resource that stores carbon instead of releasing it. Responsibly maintained forests that are properly thinned produce healthier trees that are able to grow larger than forests left to their own (and they’re more fire-resistant).  Plus, after its initial use, wood can be more easily recycled into a new form using far less greenhouse gas emissions than it takes to recycle non-renewable materials such as steel or concrete.  Left to its own devices, wood naturally decomposes in nature with no nasty by-products to deal with. 

How much wood does it take to make a Rustek phone case?

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty here- what goes into the making of your Rustek phone case? We use the most sustainably sourced wood we can find to make our products. And working with wood veneer might just be the most responsible use of wood out there.  Why? It comes dow to efficiency. Veneer is created by slicing these reclaimed logs into extremely thin layers- so fine that each inch of a log can be sliced into 42 paper-thin sheets of veneer, that works out to more than 2000 square feet of veneer per eight foot section of a two foot diameter tree! 
We’re not mathematicians, but we know that it takes about 12 square inches of veneer to make each Rustek phone case. We did a few calculations and figured out that we can make 24,000 phone cases from just one section of a tree.  To top it off, we figured we’d plant a tree for every purchase made.  So, for every tree we consume making phone cases, we plant 24,000 more. All that adds up to a line of phone cases that not only stand up to our standards of sustainability, but make a net positive contribution to the planet.
Shop our favorite sustainably sourced wood designs here.

 

 




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