When we discuss wooden products, the first and the most obvious thing we imagine is its prevalence in furniture – one of the most commonly used wooden handicraft items. It has an unprecedented advantage in the handmade furniture industry and the reason is pretty simple: Wood is durable.
Wood as a material has been around for as long as we’ve lived. It’s probably the closest thing to nature we all can bring into our homes, our lives and our everyday chores.
It triumphs over other materials like metal, ceramic or plastic because it is solid, lasts one lifetime, the after-care is simple, it will not break, corrode or crumble even if one were to move to cities with varied climates/ temperatures. Wooden home decor in india is not just popular but a part of our culture since eternity.
We’ve all had some or the other little wooden piece in our house that’s been passed on to us. It could be an artefact like a wooden box or a wooden spoon, an antique piece of furniture that’s been passed down, kitchen equipment, wooden gifts, or even an indian wooden toy.
When we started Nurture India with the aim to bring sustainable homeware into a market crowded with materials that weren’t so eco friendly – we were posed with a lot of myths around wood that we had to solve. Wooden handicraft items from India have been an important material in the export market. India has more than 50% share in wood exports to the world making us a country full of indigenous woods with a global supply. But in India, we still have questions and doubts about using wood in the kitchen as wooden chopping boards, wooden trays or even wooden mugs!
Here are some myths about wood that we had to bust and still do so. It will give you an insight into why wood is a sustainable material, we’re a sustainable brand with sustainable products!
- Wooden tableware leads to deforestation and tree cutting: Yes, trees are cut and felled. But the handicrafts industry has always been a sustainable industry with the craftsman being the centre of this activity. Wood used in handicrafts is procured from nearby forests from three categories of trees majorly.
Plantation trees: These are the most sustainable as they’re trees that are fruit bearing and lose their strength to bear fruit after 5-7 years. They’re then cut off and used for handicrafts and other industries. Woods like these are Mango wood, rubber wood, coconut wood etc.
Forested trees: These are not forests but trees planted on a piece of land (can be private or public) to promote afforestation. These are several types of trees that are forested on a part of land every year to protect the ecological system out of which a percentage is harvested for commercial purposes. These include popular timbers like Teak, Acacia, Neem wood etc. Fallen trees from forests: Some woods are reclaimed from fallen trees in protected forests and sourced sustainably without costing any deforestation. All trees are coded with unique identification numbers which are given at the point of sale of timber. Think Sandal wood, walnut etc
Reclaimed wood: In other cases, a product is crafted and then repurposed into a new product. Wooden doors cut and remade into shelves, etc. But in a gist -due to the high shelf life of wood, it has a big second hand market as well before it finally reaches the last stage of ending up in a landfill. This is a whole different topic that we will address in detail in our next blog post.
- Wood and water are enemies: The biggest myth we’ve had to fight! If you start to think from a very basic point of view of how a tree grows strength to strength come hail or storm with the trunk (ultimately timber) becoming the strongest part – you will know this is a BIG myth – especially in India. Wood is used for making boats, it’s used in kitchenware as a mortar and pestle, wood is to make houses and imagine the wood used in railway tracks – there isn’t a better example that signifies the sustainability of wood! The only difference is how different woods react to water. Trees that have more oil are more resistant to water and the ones that are lightweight and grow sooner are less resistant. They all need to be treated and chemically seasoned like this. But if you ask is wood washable – the answer is YES. It has to be done the right way, though. Check it out here.
3. Other materials are also recyclable: Yes, they are. But did you know that more than 97% materials used in the homeware industry aren’t the most eco-friendly. And even those that are recyclable- more than 50% of it ends up in landfills. Manufacturing glass, ceramic and metal also needs higher energy resources as compared to wood while manufacturing – from water consumption, electricity to machinery. Woodwares employs craftsmen and is more community driven generating employment in rural India where opportunity is scarce. It requires less machinery and basic skills of carpentry to get started. Furthermore, it is a natural material that does more good than harm.