Is Reclaimed Wood Just a Trend, or Here to Stay?

Much like the strong, stable trees that reclaimed wood comes from, this trend will not be moved.

Yup! Spoiler alert--reclamation isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Like a few other lifestyle “trends” that sweep the nation (sushi, anyone?), the “cool factor” of reclaimed wood gives it staying power. But there are other reasons reclaimed wood is here to stay beyond the power of cool. Let’s dive a little deeper!

First, a bit of history. If you read our last blog article, you already know what wood reclamation is. (If you missed that…check it out here.)

In the simplest of terms, reclaimed wood is repurposed from an old project (i.e., a wooden barn or bridge, for example) into something new (flooring, a bar, etc.).

The obvious benefit of wood reclamation is its inherent eco-friendliness. Reusing or repurposing is good for the environment, because buying new…well, with wood products in particular, it can be devastating.

Buying new instead of reclaimed or recycled contributes to deforestation. Humans cut down more trees every year than are planted, and the fact is our rate of consumption is unsustainable in the long run. Beyond the trees themselves, the carbon pollution put off by the equipment used to cut down those new living trees is dire.

How did it come to this?

Let’s quickly duck back in time to the birth of this nation. The pilgrims, exhausted from months at sea and possibly even delirious with malnourishment, washed onto the shore. They found waiting for them purple mountains majesty, amber waves of grain…and ancient trees so massive they were nearly otherworldly.

The brave pioneers were captivated by the beauty of this unspoiled land, and with good reason: Europe was, at the time, crowded, expensive, unhygienic, and fraught with political peril. This new world was (literally) a breath of fresh air.

But…

Then the Industrial Revolution burst onto the scene, and brought with it the use of coal as a preferred fuel source, belching poisons into the sky. As time went on, efficiency, speed, and profitability became the goals to achieve—no matter the cost. Often, it was Mother Nature who paid it.

One such example is the destruction of the “Mother of the Forest” tree in 1854. This giant is said to have been 2,520 years old when its bark was cruelly stripped off and sent for assembly at exhibitions as proof of its existence. In 1904, without its fire-resistant bark to protect it, was destroyed in a blaze.

Another shocking example of wanton pollution is the Cuyahoga River in Ohio, which has caught fire at least 13 times.

You read that right--the river…caught on fire.

Yup! Thanks to immense amounts of pollutants and waste dumped into the river by nearby factories, the water broke out in fires regularly between 1868 and 1969. Time magazine described the Cuyahoga as the river that "oozes rather than flows" and in which a person "does not drown but decays."

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These events and hundreds of others like them inspired President Nixon to establish the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, and over time conservation—and a return to protecting America’s great natural treasures—gained support and momentum.

In recent years we’ve witnessed changes in legislation that limit the emissions of cars and airplanes, a resurgence in organic farming, and support for eco-friendly initiatives across the board.

Regular people just like you and me can take steps to reduce the negative impact we have on the environment. For example, many grocery stores now eagerly encourage the use of reusable bags. Some states, like California, even charge for single-use plastic bags to further discourage their use.

Many restaurants now no longer automatically provide plastic straws with beverages—patrons must ask for one. In drought-prone states, water isn’t automatically delivered to the table either—but ask, and you shall receive!

It may not seem like much, but little things like this can have a significant impact when you multiply the output across the population of a nation, continent, or planet—and we as a species still have a LONG way to go to reverse the damage we’ve wrought on our world.

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That’s an island of trash.

That’s right! We’ve dumped so much plastic waste into our oceans over the last few decades it’s conglomerated into the charmingly-named “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” It’s floating around out there right now, endangering sea life of all kinds and growing larger by the day.

Here’s the good news:

When you bring reusable bags to the grocery store and avoid plastic straws, you’re contributing a small bit to the green movement. When you choose reclaimed wood products instead of brand new construction, you’re refusing to be part of rampant deforestation and pollution. Over time and multiplied over the population of a nation, these efforts will have a positive effect on planet Earth.

So, in answer to our original question--yes. Reclaimed wood is here to stay. It stems from a noble purpose that has (fortunately) become ingrained in our society—and frequently it’s more high quality, to boot! More on that, next time…