Posted in Green Design, Who Knew

Woods to avoid and Alternatves

I am settling into my Town House I moved into this past August. One project I look forward to planning is my garden. Eager to make a Zen garden, I am ready to dig in and start sourcing materials. Of course, researching comes naturally to me and I wanted to learn about all types of benches for outdoor longevity.

I came across a lovely 48″ wood garden bench made out of solid Nyatoh wood. I have never heard of it and looked it up. Unfortunately, I read Dozens of Retailers are Selling Outdoor Furniture Logged from Endangered Forests, Nyatoh being one of them.

The demand for nyatoh, balau, kapur and other woods used in outdoor furniture is causing tropical forest destruction and illegal intrusions on indigenous peoples’ lands in Southeast Asia, mostly in Indonesia. Indigenous cultures and native wildlife are being gravely harmed as their forest homelands are ruined by logging.

Not in my backyard!
I wanted a bench for respite and relaxation. A place to go for quiet solitude and meditation. How can I get that knowing the bench I am relaxing upon is causing a negative impact on other parts of this earth and contributing to tropical forest destruction? Do I sit on my duff and ignore what I know or do I search for eco-friendly alternatives? Who knew my little backyard plot of ground would be part of a larger ecological fallout? My soon to be created zen garden is now causing me anxiety! I will never be able to relax in my zen space if I didn’t use ecologically sound materials. The answer is easy. Search for alternative sources.

Now what?
As a Designer, I feel a duty to be informed and to pass on information to my clients on what to avoid. As consumers, we have to be so aware of our purchases and the consequences they have on our health, everything from grout sealers to garden benches all have an impact on our health and our environment.

Fortunately, the lines of cabinets I sell, have earned their Certification in the Environmental Stewardship Program administered by the KCMA (Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturer’s Association).

I am excerpting here a paragraph on Woods to Avoid from Guidelines for
Avoiding Wood from Endangered Forests published by Rainforest Relief.Org.

Do not buy from companies that sell or trade woods originating from
endangered forests or does not use in construction or remodeling off all its facilities woods originating from endangered forests .
“Endangered forests” are defined to include the following (additional areas may become threatened in the future and be added to future guidelines):

  • tropical forests (excluding plantations);
  • old growth or over harvested temperate forests;
  • old growth boreal forests.

Acceptable Woods:

  • reused (such as antique furniture),
  • reclaimed (coming from non-living submerged forests, deconstructed buildings or a secondary product made from production remains),
  • recycled(such as medium density fiberboard made from waste wood) or
  • carry independent certification by an organization accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council*

So my search for a bench shall continue. Hopefully, I can come across an ecologically safe alternative.

Here is an idea I like:
Recycled Poly-Lumber Furniture!
Polywood is simply an HDPE plastic that is made from recycled plastic particularly from milk jugs and bottles. The recycled plastic is then shaped into various wood profiles you would find in a traditional wood product, two by fours, one by sixes, and the like.

Polywood is not the only manufacturer of recycled plastic lumber furniture. Permo-Wood,

Eco Lumber, Enviro-Lumber and EnviroWood are just a few others that are jumping on the band wagon, so to speak, and providing the consumer with green choices for furnishing our outdoor environments with class and style and ease of caring for our furniture as well as caring for the earth we all live on.

For more Eco-Friendly information please check out these helpful websites:
The Green Guide
At Home With Kim Vallee
Rainforest Relief.Org
Tree Hugger.Com
KBB Green



Laurie Burke, connected to the design and construction industry since 1996. A seasoned residential kitchen and bath design specialist , Laurie has designed thousands of kitchens & baths as well as other cabinetry projects requiring technical precision in design drafting utilizing state of the art 2020 software for creating accurate plans and elevations. Through on- going product knowledge training and a desire to always stay current with an evolving marketplace, Laurie Burke maintains a strong command of knowing the appropriate Fit & Finish materials required for a residential remodel to meet the budget, the timeline of a project and a client's need for a finished product that meets their satisfaction. Kitchen Designer by trade, foodie, techie, weekend traveler for fun. For more information contact me at

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