2013 was a fantastic year for Crossroads Recycled Lumber. We finally were able to shake the drag of the shattered economy, and our investment in infrastructure and marketing over the last two years really paid off. One of the more exciting new developments here is that Crossroads is now certified by the Forest Stewardship CouncilTM!
What Is FSC Certification?
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international organization that helps consumers protect the world’s forests by providing certification that sourcing for lumber products is environmentally appropriate, socially responsible, and economically viable for the world’s forests and the communities that depend on them. FSC certifies forests, as well as vendors of forest products down the “chain of custody,” from lumber yards to paper mills.
What changes does FSC certification mean for Crossroads’ business practices? Just a lot more paperwork for our office staff! Crossroads Recycled Lumber has been providing lumber products that surpass the FSC standards since we began in 1981. But for our customers, FSC certification is a third party guarantee of our dedication to preservation and sustainable forestry. And lumber certified as FSC Recycled garners twice the LEED points as regular FSC.
FSC Certification can be very expensive, which is the only reason CRL was not previously certified. Pacific Northwest Timbers (PNT), our sister company, was able to afford Group Certification years ago through Sustainable Northwest, an organization that began in the 1990s, successfully bringing together clashing environmentalists and logging communities to find solutions that result in “…restored ecosystems, living wage jobs, and better relationships among diverse groups of people.” Recently, Sustainable Northwest expanded its work into California, and CRL was able to do the same group certification as PNT.
Make Informed Decisions
We know that a certification is not an end-all, be-all guarantee of sustainable practices. Today’s mainstream enthusiasm for the sustainability movement brings with it authentic and tangible improvement in both local and global economy, ecology, and equity, but also a plethora of companies and organizations trying to capitalize on consumers’ good intentions.
We encourage any consumers who have the time to research their major purchases, and not be seduced by greenwashing, “the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.” The Seven Sins of Greenwashing (who provided the preceding definition), and the Greenwashing Index are resources to identify, and even report, greenwashed products or companies.
The Forest Stewardship Council itself is not without flaws and controversy, and their critics can be found at http://www.fsc-watch.org/. But even FSC Watch acknowledges that the FSC is the best option out there for forest stewardship standards. Competing programs include the Sustainable Forestry Initiative in the US, and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification abroad, both of which were developed by the forestry industry and, according to our research, have more questionable standards than FSC. This Portland Tribune article outlines the differences between SFI and FSC: http://portlandtribune.com/sl/158971-pulp-fiction-.
A Clarifying Note on One FSC Cert
Mixed Credit is an FSC certification that encourages large-volume conventional saw-mills to move toward sustainable lumber sourcing, but could be misleading if you just see an FSC stamp and don’t do any research. With a Mixed Credit certification, a mill or yard may have, for example, 100,000 board feet of FSC-certified lumber and 500,000 BF from a non FSC managed forest- even a big clearcut -but sell up to 100,000 BF of any of its stock as FSC certified Mixed Credit. It is much like renewable energy credits in that it attempts to incorporate some sustainable practices to create a volume of product that otherwise could not yet be practically sourced responsibly.
The Mixed Credit certification system does encourage sustainable forestry, and even the non-FSC wood is held to a basic Controlled Material requirement that ensures wood is not illegal, genetically modified, or harvested from an area of significant land conversion, indigenous rights violation, or of high biological value. But if you want to know that the lumber in your home or project is sustainably sourced, stick with Pure FSC or FSC Recycled.
In the end our FSC Certification is a guarantee for our customers, large and small, that their purchases are contributing to healthier forests. But with or without the certification, and in ways that the certification does not cover, we strive to do the best for our planet and our community. Thank you again for your support.
Some additional resources on the Forest Stewardship Council’s practices and results: