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Many families are making the move to be more environmentally friendly in their purchasing decisions. This can include a wide variety of items, but did you know that it can include your hardwood flooring too? Sustainably farmed and produced wood floors can provide your home with the durability and style of traditional hardwoods while providing your conscience with the knowledge that your choice is earth friendly too.

High Demand

The United States Department of Agriculture Forestry Service released a study that showed the demand for wood products in the U.S. is growing at twice the rate of the population. With this much pressure on the environment, measures have to be made to guarantee the life of both trees and the surrounding ecosystem in the future.

Sustainability

Sustainable wood farming ensures that the timber which becomes flooring is harvested using specific guidelines to ensure minimal damage to the ecosystem and resources available. It also ensures that the process can be continued through the future through planting new trees when one is felled.

Certification

Many organizations and entities in the United States and Canada, as well as several abroad, are compiling and enforcing numerous procedures to safeguard against unsustainable and harmful harvesting of timber. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) acknowledges more than 100 million acres of forest in the United States and Canada that are managed to their environmental, social, and economic criteria. Among the numerous standards set forth by the FSC, the “chain-of-custody” paper trail required from the time the tree is cut to the time it is laid on your floor provides physical proof of its expedition and legality.

Although the FSC is the most widely known program, there are numerous other organizations that implement and impose policies to protect the natural world. The SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) was founded by the American Forest and Paper Association and acts much like the FSC. There are so many similarities and minor differences that in 2001, the Meridian Institute released a report that offered an unbiased comparison of the two. The CSA International provides certification worldwide.

Sustainable Options

Two flooring options that are often forgotten are bamboo and reclaimed wood. Although it’s technically a grass, bamboo is a popular source for sustainable hardwood because of its rapid renewal rate. Bamboo grows to harvestable maturity in only 3 years and doesn’t require replanting. Reclaimed wood is another great option for sustainable flooring because it comes from previously used wood. Availability can be limited, though, so it may not be the best choice if you have a large area to cover.

If you are looking for true hardwoods to make your flooring from, birch, cherry, maple, and white oak all tend to be easy to sustain. With relatively short maturity lengths and ease of replanting, these hardwoods are easily grown and collected in earth friendly ways.

PJ Hart is the owner of Atlanta Hardwood Flooring, a hardwood flooring installation and refinishing company. PJ Hart was the first contractor in the state of Georgia to become certified by the NWFA. Atlanta Hardwood Flooring specializes in site-finished hardwood installation and high quality hardwood floor refinishing in Atlanta. Learn more about Atlanta hardwoods at http://www.atlantahardwoodflooring.com/

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