Reclaimed or Salvaged Wood and "Green" Marketing

Is it worth marketing products made from windfalls, reclaimed urban trees, et cetera, as "sustainable" goods? July 28, 2008

I had a thought about selling lumber from trees that were naturally killed by storms, bugs, and old age. I live in the Midwest and everyone is talking about "green". Do you think there would be a market for this? I believe a managed forest is the best but consumers are in this save the planet mind set and if they would pay a premium for this I would consider it. Most likely I would need a 3rd part to certify the lumber.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor I:
We have several million acres of dead, dying blow downs in the west and can't touch it because itís not environmentally safe to cut. From what I have read you need deep pockets to get certified. You may be better off to call it reclaimed.

From contributor A:
I buy urban salvaged timber and sell it as "green". If it was not cut for the purpose of being used as lumber than it is reclaimed and green in my book. I am very interested in forks for crotch feather material. Yard trees are the best for this type of figure due to the wider spread of the crown.

From contributor I:
I have been milling for 12 plus years now and 90% of what I saw is salvage timber, cull logs left in woods, trees cut down for range restoration and hybrid poplar. I don't claim it as green but as recovered. I have yet to find a buyer that will pay more for green than for tree killing lumber. I don't buy logs so it works out. Right now the lumber market is flat line so do your homework first.

From contributor D:
That is my niche. There can be supply end problems at times, and it takes a big network to keep you in what you need. I have been at it about five years and can't type all my experiences and advice in this response, but yes it is doable. I am in the Midwest too, feel free to give me a holler.

From contributor Y:
I believe the term, "green" is thrown around far too loosely, and for many people at this point can be a turn off as it's appearing more and more as a word thatís become exploited and used as a sales pitch. The expression "sustainable" might be more appropriate within the context of the explanation, which is exactly what I think needs to be done in letting the said public know "exactly" what you're talking about. At least thatís how it appears/effects me. Spend the little extra time and explain in your ad what you and your product are all about.

From contributor S:
Here in Pennsylvania, the big paper companies started a "sustainable" forestry program. Of course, what they really want to sustain is the paper industry and for that they need large quantities cheap wood. So add sustainable to the list of word being hijacked.

From contributor J:
I use 100% reclaimed or salvaged wood. I turn it green, so I can honestly say that my end product is very "green". I almost typed what I thought of the green movement, but realized it would be off topic. Nevermind - suffice it to say, if a label fools the small minded and they buy something, then that is good. The fact remains that I get all my raw materials free, right out of the stream of wood that is headed to the landfill.

From the original questioner:
Thanks everybody. I am a cabinetmaker first and when i have time i saw and dry my own lumber (Woodmizer and Nyle dryer). Last year I sold a vanity made out of butternut from a diseased dead tree and I charged double for the vanity and the customer didnít question the cost ($2600 instead of $1300).

I'm thinking it might be easier to market since i am selling cabinets to homeowners instead of lumber to fellow woodworkers. Iím going to spend a few dollars advertising and talk to some designers.

From contributor I:
Thatís what I do also, 90% of my wood is used in my shop. I call it reclaimed and do well at it. Just remember value added is where the money is. When it comes to lumber people will buy the cheapest.

From contributor I:
One thing I want to point out, I don't know about your area but some areas with green plans, forestry plans, public lands and the rise in timber theft require special permits or letters of origin to cut, transport, or have in possession certain types of wood, even from private land.