How Pallets are Helping Forests

It’s Arbor Day, and many of our customers (and vendors!) are observing the holiday by donating to the Arbor Day foundation, planting trees and beautifying local parks and forests. Coupled with Earth Day on Monday, it’s been a week of eco-friendly habits and facts. But did you know that the pallet industry is helping forests every day?

You may be wondering how cutting down trees helps forests- good question! But first, let’s take a look at how our forests are managed- the US Forest Service data suggests that each year, forests increase by about 3 percent while only 2 percent of trees are removed. This means each year, the forests are getting larger and denser.

On one hand, this is a good thing; the EPA reports that carbon dioxide offset has increased in the past 20 years as a result of forest regeneration. On the other hand, those dense forests often become overstuffed with small trees, brush, and over-forestation. This create high-risk environments for the large fires that devastate the forest, wildlife, homes, people and our water.

That’s why sustainable tree harvesting is so important- it’s healthier for everyone! And pallets fit perfectly in this scenario. Pallets aren’t made from large, valuable hardwood trees; those are often used for furniture. Instead, small trees or splintered pieces are used, removing those parts of the forest that are the highest risk for spreading fire. The pallet industry creates demand for traditionally underutilized lumber, which in turn gives those salvaged pieces more value. This increase in value of sustainably harvested timber and helps support more effective forest management.

But let’s go back to the forest increasing each year- only 42% of available growth is harvested each year throughout the US, which means 58% of the biologically available timber is left behind. As the NWPCA explains, that’s like spending  your interest without ever needing to touch your dividend! As it stands now, more trees die and rot in the woods each year than are removed by the pallet industry.

Still unsure if using a wood pallet is really better for the environment? Wood is the only 100% renewable, recyclable and reusable product available. A wood pallet can be used multiple times before being repaired for use again (and then refurbished into a variety of other uses after that!). Of the 7% of pallets made in the US that are made of alternative materials, those materials are often derivatives of limited fossil fuels (like oil or gas) and will eventually contribute to the tons of plastic products sitting in landfills. Pallets, on the other hand, help break down and compost materials in landfills and contribute to the ecological healing of otherwise heavily polluted environments.

If you haven’t started your Arbor Day celebration, it’s not too late! Check out some of these craft projects you can do with recycled pallets, or visit The Arbor Day Foundation’s website to learn about other ways you can help our forests!

Author: Paige Greene

Categories: Millwood