Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sustainable Alternatives to Wood


Disclaimer: This is a part 1 of a 2 part rant.

Now that you have read the disclaimer I will get started. During my college economics course we were discussing the demand for oil as well as the supply. As you might now, oil is an issue in the news currently. Russia is claiming they own Antarctica and the oil there, and they will protect their interest in it. I say, if you live there you can have it (bet you won't).

The fact that oil may eventually cause a new war has me wondering why we are still creating cars with horrible mpg, why haven't found a sustainable alternative and began mass producing it yet? I have read about various alternatives, yet there are no alternative fuel stations anywhere that I have ever seen. Living in America, our country uses much more gasoline than other countries, and according to my teacher over 50% of that is not necessary, its due to choice in car or trips we could have combined or avoided entirely.

How wasteful we as a country are with oil made me start thinking of how wasteful we are in general... but we aren't the only ones. There are so many alternatives to wood that grow faster that can be used in place of wood... yet we still see deforestation.

Alternative #1 Hemp
No, I am not a pothead. I don't and have never smoked marijuana, but I believe both should be legal. Think of the tax money we could raise to pay off our debt america! Anyway their is a difference between hemp and weed. Hemp has less than .3 THC so you can't use it to get high unlike marijuana. The fact that hemp is illegal for resembling marijuana is asinine considering all of its uses and the fact it can be grown quickly, organically, and is ultra sustainable.
Hemp has 1000's of uses including: fabric, food, bio-diesel fuel, paper, plastics, rope, building material, molded panels, car components, wallpaper, acoustic baffling and barn bedding for farm animals.

Alternative #2 Bamboo
Bamboo is another good alternative to using trees. Bamboo also has 1000's of uses and can be ultra green when we aren't clearing forests to grow it. Bamboo will grow wild, doesn't need replanted, and reaches maturity in 3 years, bamboo also converts 35% more CO2 to oxygen compared to the average tree. Bamboo has found its way into most industries including: forestry, wood, pulp and paper, food, textile, bioenergy, automotive, electronics, and farming. I found it when I was looking at green alternative house building/remodel materials. There is now a bamboo flooring option.

Alternative #3 Sugar Cane Husk
Unlike the other two alternatives the replacement value on this one is limited. This can be used to make paper and paper products, not will all of the uses of wood. I personally use ology toilet paper, its made with this and bamboo (pictured)!

Other Options?
In addition to my options there is also cork, which is tree bark which will grow back on the tree. Then there is nutshells. Believe it or not in Spanish culture some furniture is made from nutshells. They use a paste to "cement" the ground up shells together.

In addition to using alternatives how about we use wood we have already harvested? I see so much wood/wood products go to waste. I just picked up a piece of wood on the side of the road today. I plan on using unwanted pallets for wood for future products. It bothers me how wasteful we are as a society, and the impacts of our wastefulness. Can anyone tell me why deforestation is a problem when we have alternatives that can diminish our need for wood?