It’s easy for woodworkers to get overwhelmed by the “green” world. Because there is so much information out there and so many green building programs, it’s hard to know where to start.
With our economy on the comeback trail, customer demand for environmentally responsible products will only grow so it’s an ideal time for you to learn how to navigate these waters. Here are four simple steps you can take to get on the road to joining the world of green products. Timber Products Company calls these steps “sensible sustainability.” In other words—don’t make it complicated, don’t spend a lot of money, and be sensible about your sustainability efforts.
1. Talk to your suppliers. Ask your trusted suppliers about the environmental attributes of the products you buy from them. Most of them will have at least one person who is charged with knowing the answer to that question. Ask them about environmentally responsible products you are not buying but should consider. Tell them about your interest in providing “sensibly sustainable” products to your customers and ask them what ideas they have to help. You will be surprised how much you will learn with this first step.
2. Talk to your customers. Ask them what is important to them from an environmental standpoint. What you might learn is what we hear the most from consumers, mainly they “just want to do the right thing.”
3. Learn about wood that comes from responsible sources. Remember that at the heart of a woodworker’s business is wood. From solid wood to particleboard made from wood residue, any green effort must include an understanding of where the wood came from.
There are two programs in America that focus on responsible forestry–the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Both are excellent programs that ensure that forestlands in their program are managed in a sustainable manner, ensuring a supply of wood for generations to come. For particleboard and MDF, look to the Eco-Certified Composite (ECC) program of the Composite Panel Association. It’s easy to understand these programs if you don’t allow yourself to get bogged down in the details–just keep the big picture in mind.
4. Find out what green program is the best fit for your business. The best example of this step is kitchen cabinet manufacturers. The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) has a program call the Environmental Stewardship Program, or ESP. It’s an easy-to-understand program that will challenge your business to get better environmentally, but the goals are very achievable. There is an equivalent of ESP for every sector of the woodworking industry. If you need help finding the program that fits your business, ask your suppliers search the internet.
If your start with the KISS (keep it simple stupid) approach, you will find your company well on its way to providing your customers with environmentally responsible products. You will doing your part for the environment and it will be a great marketing asset for your business.
What questions do you have?
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