Don't buy wood from terrible people, especially populist dictators.
Updated: Mar 31
The Brazilian rainforest is said to have more diversity of species in one acre than other parts of the world have on entire continents, yet newly elected strong-man and self proclaimed dictator Bolsanaro has bragged he will allow unprecedented razing of what is left of it. This cannot be overlooked for so many reasons, but perhaps the one that has the greatest chance of hitting home is that this rainforest is said to be responsible for an entire 20% of the oxygen on earth. I ain't trying to breath at 80% capacity. There are tangible things we as outsiders can do, and for the purposes of this blog post I will talk about one: don't buy exotic hardwoods, and encourage the woodworkers, retailers, furniture manufacturers, cabinet makers, home builders, interior decorators, and regular folk who buy things in your life not to either. Examples of common hardwoods to avoid from this region are Mahogany, tulipwood, rosewood and purple heart. Yes there are some plantations which responsibly raise and harvest tropical species, but great care must be taken to ascertain that their claims are true.
In general why the heck would anyone, especially a Michigander, want these exotic species when the diversity of our own local hard and softwoods is beyond incredible. Any color from the whitest maple to the darkest walnut can be obtained easily from local sawmills who care. Trees are made of carbon, and if they don't have to get shipped across continents the use of their wood can be not only carbon neutral but actually carbon capturing. George Washington is said to have painted pine boards to look like mahogany at his home because he couldn't afford the real thing. It turns out none of us can afford the real thing.