Sustainably Harvested Wood

Sustainable wood comes from forest management projects that are verified to preserve wildlife, minimize deforestation, protect the global climate, benefit water systems, and purify air. Sustainable wood can also be naturally fallen and collected. Sustainable forest management practices ensure the long-term vitality of our precious forests. Unfortunately, supporting these practices is not the norm.

Hearts recognizes that business leadership and long-term success must consider the environment, including the world's forest ecosystems. Hearts fully supports responsible forest management practices that protect ecosystem integrity, maintain the planet’s clean freshwater reserves, and recognizes the carbon storehouse value of forests to provide long-term social and economic benefits to communities and build a climate of operational certainty.  

Engaging in Deforestation at our Own Demise

Humanity is dependent on forests for our survival. Since forests cool the earth’s climate, regulate and filter water, prevent flooding, and purify our air, it is imperative that we protect them.  Forests provide food, clothing, traditional medicines, shelter, natural resources for paper and building materials, climate regulation, water and air filtration, and contribute to our physical and emotional wellbeing.

  • These ecosystems are home to 80% of the world’s plant and animal species. Yet we’re in the midst of one of the greatest mass extinction events of human history. [i]
  • The climate is warming as a result of increasing carbon levels. Trees capture and store carbon. Cutting them down releases that carbon. Deforestation is responsible for anywhere between 6% and 20% of the world’s climate emissions. [ii] [iii]
  • Just 400 years ago, our planet’s land mass was two-thirds forest. Today, it’s down to one-third. Every year, an area the size of New York State – roughly 36 million acres – of natural forest is cleared. [iv] [v]
  • One-fifth of earth’s forests remain intact: That is, just 1/5 of all forests remain in large, relatively natural ecosystems.[vi]

Deforestation contributes to a host of social problems too. In many countries, land use rights for forested areas are not clearly defined or documented. So even though indigenous peoples may have lived on a particular forested land for generations, they are not afforded legal and customary rights to own, use, and manage that land. Some are even tricked into clearing their forests to make way for cash crops, only to find their land degraded and useless within a few years.

Fueled by an Industrial System

The industrial system on which our society depends is largely responsible for the rapid pace at which we are losing our forests. You can see the footprint of industry all over:

  • Oil and gas exploration: The oil industry must clear forests in order to access the oil, natural gas, and coal we use to power our lives. Every year, we lose 1% of the Boreal Forest. Tar sands oil development in Canada will result in clearing of 300,000 hectares of Boreal Forest to construct 30,000 km of roads. [vii] [viii]
  • Logging: Wood is a huge part of our modern culture – we use it in buildings, papers, shoes, and more. Trees are cut down to makes our lives prettier and more convenient. In fact, large portions of southern Boreal Forest areas are licensed to logging companies that clear cut nearly one million hectares of Canada’s public forests annually. Since 1975, 65 million acres have been cut down. [ix]
  • Mining: Mining operations – especially strip mining – also clear cut forests to make room for roads and to extract the minerals they’re seeking. Mining exploration and claim staking is permitted in 90% of the Boreal region, leading to more roadway expansion and development of seismic lines. [x]
  • Raising animals: Huge tracts of land are cleared all over the world to feed the growing demand for meat and leather. Cattle ranching is the leading cause of Brazilian Amazon deforestation, accounting for 60% to 70% of its loss. Close to 55% of the Amazon could be clear cut by 2030, largely due to unsustainable ranching practices and land use. [xi]

Fast Fashion’s Part in Deforestation

Although you may be devastated at the losses suffered because of industrial deforestation, we bet you haven’t thought about how fashion fits into the sustainable forest management picture. So how does cheap, fast fashion contribute to deforestation and how can we become more aware consumers? Here are some facts that will help next time your shopping.

  • Wood in textiles: Wood is in our fabric, too. Rayon and viscose fabrics for instance, are human-made textiles created using wood pulp. They are more sustainable than petroleum-based synthetic fabrics because they originate from renewable resources and are more biodegradable, but they have an impact on forests nonetheless.
  • Rubber: Many fashion items like shoes and handbags are made with natural rubber components.  Natural rubber is tapped from rubber trees. And while it is more renewable than synthetic rubber, unless it comes from sustainably manage forests, it contributes to deforestation.
  • Wood: Jewelry and accessories are often made with forested wood.
  • Leather: Forests are cleared to make way for ranch lands to raise cows, sheep, and pigs whose skins are used for leather. If your fashion includes leather, it may be contributing to deforestation without you even knowing it.
  • Energy and plastics: Oil and gas run the machines used in the textile industry, and fuel the planes, trains, and automobiles that transport fast fashion around the world. And of course, any plastics – including synthetic fibers like polyester – are made from crude oil, too. And remember, if trees were in the way of that oil, they aren't any longer.

Hold Back the Tide of Deforestation

Become part of the deforestation solution by choosing Hearts’ fashion products, and sourcing other fashion products that are created using wood harvested under sustainable forest management practices or naturally fallen and collected. Sustainable forest management principles incentivize forest managers to use the highest social and environmental management practices in exchange for access to the eco shopping market.

When these sustainably certified woods aren't available, naturally fallen and collected wood products are much more eco-friendly because they do not support practices like clear cutting. You can also seek out leather goods that are made from up-cycled or regenerated leathers - that way you are not contributing to the demand for more hides which contributes to deforestation.

It’s best to ensure forests are considered in the procurement of cellulose-based fabrics and that fabrics are free of ancient and endangered forests, too. Hearts collaborates with Canopy and will work to ensure all of the fabrics used in our collection are free of ancient and endangered forest fibre within two years.

Most importantly read the labels and ask questions. Fashion companies that us sustainable practices want you to know and will be sure to label their products as so.

One of the biggest changes Hearts’ is trying to make is to show consumers the power they have to make a change in industry. So why don’t you join us for a giant group tree hug today? When you do so, our forests will hug you back.

For more information about sustainably harvested wood, dive deeper.

Material - Sustainably Harvested Wood - hearts.com.pdf

[i] Forests: Why it Matters. (n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2012, from World Wildlife Fund:http://www.worldwildlife.org/what/globalmarkets/forests/whyitmatters.html

[ii] Deforestation and climate change. (2011, December 5). Retrieved July 26, 2012, from World Wildlife Fund:http://www.wwf.org.uk/wwf_articles.cfm?unewsid=5343

[iii] Baccini, A. (2012, January 29). Estimated carbon dioxide emissions from tropical deforestation improved by carbon density maps. Retrieved July 26, 2012, from Nature Climate Change:http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n3/full/nclimate1354.html

[iv] Supplying the Demand for a Livable Planet. (n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2012, from Rainforest Alliance:http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/sites/default/files/publication/pdf/dream-of-a-nation-excerpt.pdf

[v] Forests: Why it Matters. (n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2012, from World Wildlife Fund:http://www.worldwildlife.org/what/globalmarkets/forests/whyitmatters.html

[vi] Fragmenting forests: The loss of large frontier forests. (n.d.). Retrieved November 19, 2012, from WorldResources Institute: http://www.wri.org/publication/content/8389

[vii]  (Canada - Boreal Forest)

[viii]  Earth's green halo. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2012, from ForestEthics: http://forestethics.org/the-boreal-forest-the-facts

[ix]  Earth's green halo. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2012, from ForestEthics: http://forestethics.org/the-boreal-forest-the-facts

[x]  Earth's green halo. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2012, from ForestEthics: http://forestethics.org/the-boreal-forest-the-facts

[xi]  Amazon: World's Largest Tropical Rain Forest and River Basin. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2012, from World Wildlife Fund: http://www.worldwildlife.org/what/wherewework/amazon/index.html