New WoodWise Consumer guide supports forest conservation

National Audubon Society joins Co-op America to provide consumer tips and product directory for protecting forests

provided by National Audubon Society

Forest Friendly Company Profiles



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ational Audubon Society and Co-op America are playing a key role in producing and distributing the innovative WoodWise Consumer guide and resource directory. This exciting new initiative aims to ease pressure on the world's forests by helping Americans use fewer wood and paper products and developing wider demand for forest-friendly alternatives.

Said Co-op America's Executive Director Alisa Gravitz, "Unethical timber companies and uncaring politicians are a huge part of the problem, but forests are cut down because people use them for paper, for buildings, even for rayon clothing. The WoodWise Consumer helps environmentalists make small but significant changes in order to lighten the load on forests."

"Co-op America sought to collaborate with the National Audubon Society because of its leadership role in protecting forests and wildlife habitats on public lands. Combining this approach with a reduction in forest-destroying products and an increase in demand for more sustainable alternatives creates a powerful collaboration that will benefit forests around the globe," explained Project Director Dana Harmon Charron.

Starting with an introduction by environmental educator Jayni Chase and actor Chevy Chase, this guide is designed to help Americans take action without sacrificing quality of life or spending extra money. The WoodWise Consumer covers a wide variety of topics, from building a wood-free wardrobe to reducing pesky junk mail to home improvement strategies that preserve natural habitats.

Free of advertising, the guide's practical approach includes information, tips, action devices, and business contacts. The guide also makes it easy for readers to encourage companies to carry more forest-friendly alternatives.

The WoodWise Consumer is available for free to individuals and groups who call 1-800-58-GREEN. For those who want to save even more paper, the guide and additional WoodWise strategies are available on the web at www

"The WoodWise Consumer is a highly personal approach to saving forests," said Charron. "It isn't rocket science, yet concerned American families want help bringing their daily activities in line with their environmental values. Over time, their actions will have a dramatic effect on the way America does business."

For instance, WoodWise Consumer readers can find new and improved environmentally friendly alternatives to paper products traditionally made from wood. The WoodWise Consumer exposes consumers to the magic of agricultural residues, like corn husks and straw, and farmed fibers, such as kenaf and industrial hemp. The directory lists two dozen retailers of forest-friendly paper products.

The WoodWise Consumer also helps people put a stop to the average 553 pieces of junk mail they receive each year. Readers can send in the preprinted postcard to the Direct Marketing Association. They learn other easy tips like not filling out warranty cards the warranty remains valid and readers keep their names off mailing lists.

Readers learn how to recognize legitimate labels for environmentally certified lumber and furniture products that were harvested with as little damage to the environment as possible. Then consumers can turn to the resource directory to find retailers who already carry certified lumber. They can also mail the preprinted action postcard to Home Depot, asking the world's largest home improvement retailer to stop selling products from old-growth forests and stock certified lumber. Finally, the guide shows do-it-yourselfers how to use less wood in their projects without reducing quality.

"Why buy clear-cut timber when you can buy timber from a forest whose song birds continue to sing? Or why buy paper made from irreplaceable virgin trees when you can buy high-quality paper made from leftover corn husks?" Gravitz asked. "The WoodWise Consumer makes it easy for environmentalists to become green consumers."

  Co-op America, a national nonprofit organization, has helped consumers, investors and businesses use the power of the marketplace for environmental protection and social justice. Co-op America's mission is to provide far-reaching economic strategies for achieving environmental sustainability and social justice. They publish the acclaimed National Green Pages™ and the Socially Responsible Financial Planning Handbook. Web: 1612 K St. NW, Ste. 600, Washington, DC 20006. (800) 58-GREEN.

National Audubon Society's Forest Habitat Campaign seeks to sustain and restore America's forest ecosystems and the habitat through energetic, informed grassroots activism backed by sound science, policy, and ethics. They provide people with information and tools to value forest ecosystems; strengthen forest management laws; promote public and private forest management that is more friendly to birds, wildlife, and fish; and reduce our over-dependence on forest products. Web: 1901 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20006. 202-861-2242.

To participate in a local survey of wood and wood products, call Carolyn at (858) 272-0347, or send email to:

Forest Friendly Company Profiles

   Whether they offer junk mail reduction services, straw-based plywood, or tree-free paper, WoodWise companies contribute viable products and services to stem the tide of deforestation. We encourage you to call these businesses and the dozens of others listed in Co-op America's WoodWise Consumer guide and on the web site for information.


Paper Pioneer: Vision Paper

  In 1990, Tom Rymsza did something the mainstream paper industry said could not be done he manufactured chlorine-free, tree-free paper using kenaf fiber. Working in partnership with U.S. farmers, Vision Paper cultivates kenaf, a member of the hibiscus family that is related to okra and cotton. Kenaf has its roots in ancient Africa, where for thousands of years, people have relied on it to make clothing, rope and rugs. The plant grows as high as 14 feet tall in only 4 or 5 months; the U.S. Department of Agriculture has called it the most promising fiber substitute for wood. Now, the farsighted Vision Paper brings this ancient fiber into our modern world. Tom Rymsza, PO 20399, Albuquerque, NM 87154. Tel: 505-294-0293 Fax: 505-294-7040


Pefect Plywood: Meadowood Industries Inc.

  What costs the same as plywood, can be used just like plywood, and is wood-free? The answer is Meadowood. First manufactured in the 1970s, Meadowood is a pressed sheet made of ryegrass straw combined with a resin that does not emit formaldehyde or urea gas. The straw is an agricultural byproduct of grass seed farming that used to be burned. That changed when Leonard Opel and Dale Rose started experimenting with chopping, drying, cleaning, and pressing the straw into boards. Today, Meadowood is used for interior paneling, furniture, cabinets, and bulletin boards and can be finished with paint or lacquer. Leonard Opel, 33242 Red Bridge Rd., Albany, OR 97321. Tel: 541-259-1303. Fax: 541-259-1355.


Build, Not Landfill: Jefferson Recycled Woodworks

  Since 1990, Jefferson Recycled Woodworks has provided recycled lumber ponderosa pine, redwood, Douglas fir, southern yellow pine for furniture, flooring, and construction. All the wood that Jefferson sells is remanufactured from boards and timbers salvaged from old buildings. The company has reclaimed over two million board-feet of old-growth wood and is determined to change the way Americans think about lumber. Jefferson's Commercial Interiors program provides shelving and furniture to retail stores such as Smith and Hawken, and Patagonia. Erika Carpenter, PO Box 696, McCloud, CA 96057. Tel: 916-964-2740 Fax 916-964-2745.


Junk Mail Warrior: Private Citizen

  There's no doubt that Robert Bumash is on a crusade, a quest that's resulted in a service that eliminates unwanted paper from thousands of mailboxes. The average American receives over 500 pieces of unsolicited mail annually. For more than ten years, Private Citizen has devised strategies to reduce junk mail and phone calls customers report a 80-95 percent drop in solicitations! Private citizen also works to strengthen privacy laws that protect people from unwanted mail. Robert Bulmash, Private Citizen, PO Box 233, Naperville, IL 60566. Tel: 800-CUT-JUNK.


The Prettiest Paper: Green Field Paper Company

  When Jeff Lindenthal and Melissa Smedley planned their wedding in 1990, they made their own wood-free paper for the invitations out of waste materials such as cotton rags, an old linen skirt, and corn husks. Two years later this enterprise became Green Field Paper company. In their San Diego studio, they create unique paper products with non-wood fibers that don't sacrifice forests. Their more innovative products include: ColorGrown, the first paper made from organically grown, naturally colored cotton; Grow-A-Note, greeting cards that are ingrained with seeds and can be planted to grow wildflowers; and a line of industrial hemp paper. Jeff Lindenthal, 744 G Street, Studio 201, San Diego, CA 92101 Tel: 619-338-9432 Fax 619-338-0308.


Flair For Fashion: Crispina Designs

  "Conserve, reuse, recycle, and be kind to yourself every day" is sewn into each one of Crispina Design's creations. All products start as discarded wool sweaters, blue-jean fabric, overcoats, and tweed jackets from the warehouses of rag dealers. With its team of 30 expert sewers, Crispina Designs transforms these used products into brand new clothing, home furnishings, gifts and accessories. Crispina Designs' catalogs are printed on recycled paper and mailed in collapsed cereal box folders. By creatively reusing and recycling, they avoid using new materials that contribute to forest destruction, such as rayon, virgin paper and cardboard. Myra Riiska, PO Box 610, Housatonic, MA 01236. Tel: 413-274-0000 Fax: 413-274-0001

Take the WoodWise Quiz

Take the WoodWise Quiz


1) How WoodWise are you? Check all the WoodWise actions that you've taken in the last month.

A. Used a reusable mug instead of a paper cup.
B. Recycled newspapers, magazines, or other paper products.
C. Bought a greeting card or paper with post-consumer recycled content.
D. Tried to reduce the amount of junk mail that comes into your home.

2) Which item is least likely to contain any wood?

A. Corner gas station   
B. Colorful print skirt
C. Roll of film
D. Official NFL football

3) Pick the two industries that use the most wood

A. Railroads     
B. Paper/packaging
C. New building/renovation
D. Shipping crates and pallets

4) Why is it important to protect natural forests? (Pick those that apply)

A. To provide jobs and income to local communities.
B. To shelter wildlife and protect biodiversity.
C. To prevent mud slides and soil erosion.
D. To clean carbon dioxide out of the air.

5) Imagine a milk crate full of magazines, toilet paper, lumber and other wood products. That's equivalent to a cubic foot of wood. On average, the world's population uses 12 cubic feet of wood per person per year. How many cubic feet of wood does the average American use?

A. 15 cu. ft.
B. 37 cu. ft.
C. 61 cu. ft.
D. 80 cu. ft.

6) What can consumers do to protect forests? (Select all that apply)

A. Recycle and reduce the amount of paper and wood that we use.
B. Buy forest-friendly products.
C. Encourage stores to sell lumber from environmentally responsible companies.
D. Inspire others to take similar actions to protect forests.

7) Pick the product that has the highest average post-consumer recycled content.

A. Paper coffee cups
B. Copier paper
C. Newspaper
D. Gift wrapping paper

Click here for answers page.