Are we sacrificing eco-systems for style?
No matter what we seem to do, the decimation of the world’s eco-systems and rainforests seems to be relentless. Every second of every day, an area the size of a football pitch is cleared in the Amazon, and around the world forests are being mercilessly harvested for the most highly prized woods such as teak, mahogany and other slow-growing hardwoods. But surely this isn’t going towards your new floor, right? After all, you’ve made sure that your new wooden flooring comes from a sustainable source…
‘Exotic’ hardwood flooring
If you are truly concerned about the impact your interior design feature is having on the world’s most vulnerable eco-systems, then it may pay to look beyond the advertising blurb and do a little research of your own, as not all ‘sustainable’ wood actually comes from sustainable sources. And it also appears that the impact of the message seems to be fading from the public’s mind a little, too. The organisation Rainforest Relief, dedicated to protecting some of the world’s most vulnerable habitats, has reported that tropical ‘exotic’ wood flooring imports have grown to become one of the largest uses of rainforest hardwoods in the US. And where our American cousins lead, we often follow. In the UK interior designers are looking once more towards the more delicate patterns of exotic hardwoods to make a design statement in the country’s most desirable residences.
So why the sudden change? Have we all become a little bored with good old pine or has our concern for the welfare of our planet become jaded by a constant bombardment of guilt-inducing statistics from conservation organisations?
Just like any other form of fashion, interior design fads come and go. But the difference now is that we are far more aware of how our home designs and wooden floor makeovers affects our planet, and consequently how our desire for hardwood flooring could ultimately lead to the extinction of endangered plants and animals thousands of miles away.
However, today’s manufacturing techniques give us the capability to achieve the look of a solid hardwood floor without a negative environmental impact. Engineered hardwood flooring, laminates and sustainable timber make it possible to wow your friends and family with your stunning wooden floor without you having to lose any sleep over the plight of Orang-utans as their Borneo hardwood forest homes are cut down. You can be stylish without having to sacrifice your principles.
New trends are coming through all the time, and developments such as bamboo flooring means that completely sustainable wooden flooring options are now coming onto the market. But the most truly ‘sustainable’ method isn’t replacement – it’s renovation. Working with what you already have means that not a single tree has to be sacrificed for the sake of your wooden floor. Floor sanding and polishing brings new life into even the dullest wooden floor, and by using modern natural waxes, polishes and stains you can achieve a faux hardwood floor effect for a fraction of the cost – both financially and environmentally.
So there is absolutely no reason to sacrifice style for being ‘eco-aware’ and vice versa. Hardwood trees take decades, even centuries to reach full maturity, whereas laminates and engineered hardwoods have a massively reduced impact on the world’s most threatened eco-systems. So when you’re planning your wooden floor renovation, talk to an expert first to find out the most environmentally friendly way of achieving that desirable hardwood flooring look without the cost to either your wallet or the planet.