The dead forest aisle in an A&P, 1997    Photo © Earthbilt

Wood consumption far exceeds what can be taken from forests sustainably.

Society’s massive and ever increasing consumption of wood, viscose fabrics and wood-derived chemicals has driven extraction of wood that is at least 20 times the level that can be sustained, while maintaining biodiversity and the full ecological functioning of forests. This has been proven beyond a doubt.

To achieve a 95% reduction in the use of wood and wood -derived materials, we must first eliminate the use of disposable products made from paper. Paper production consumes 50% of wood extraction globally. Currently, 40% of paper production comes from plantations that were converted from natural forests. This loss of forests cannot be sustained — forests must be restored. The only way to do that is to reduce the demand for wood fiber.

Production and use of disposable paper products — paper towels, napkins, paper plates, paper bags, paper cups, and single-use packaging — must end. Paper use should be limited to truly essential products. Those products can be made from a combination of agricultural residues and post-consumer recycled paper, which can be more available with a major effort to increase greater collection and utilization of cleaner recycling.

Production of fabrics from virgin wood pulp must cease, along with the industrial burning of wood-derived biomass.

These actions will reduce the consumption of wood by over 50%. A large-scale effort to recover all wood waste from manufacturing and construction would help close the loop on what is used. All other use should be limited to wood meeting Slow Wood® criteria.

Buildings have been consuming “mass timber” for generations. This massive increase in wood use has not mitigated global heating.  Oakland, FL, 2020.   Photo © Earthbilt

Construction — again on the rise — consumes about 40% of wood use.

Slow Wood® is a project of Earthbilt and is a registered trademark. Website copyright © 2021

Chemically-treated telephone poles, Tarrytown, FL, 2020.   Photo © Earthbilt