One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Treasure
Apr 11, 2019
In launching LBE Design, we knew sustainability had to be a core component of our company culture. What we never imagined is our ability to influence behaviors in other cultures by sharing our sustainability initiatives and educating our suppliers.
Through our travels and interactions with many diverse cultures, we have found people everywhere hold similar desires to live happy, healthy, and productive lives. We have found people across the globe are willing and eager to adjust their behavior once educated on the benefits of sustainable practices and provided with positive incentive to make the change.
In launching LBE Design, we knew sustainability had to be a core component of our company culture.
Globalization has increased the foreign-owned companies in South East Asia who utilize local labor and resources to manufacture goods for export around the World. Many of these foreign-owned factories have responded to the global demand for reclaimed material and incorporated its use into their production. However, locally owned manufacturers servicing the domestic market prefer to use newly harvested wood as it requires much less labor to process and provides more consistent results with less effort.
When sourcing outside the US, we focus on working with smaller, locally owned producers as an effort to keep the money generated from the production of our goods within the local economy.
We shared our preference for reclaimed wood as part of our sustainability efforts with our local producer and initially met with more resistance than anticipated. At first, we didn’t fully understand the rationale behind their objections to using reclaimed materials, so we took a step back and tried to see things from their perspective. To help offset the increased labor from using reclaimed lumber, we helped them implement new production methods to leverage reclaimed materials, without needing to significantly increase their labor costs. Additionally, they were able to develop a system of trading demolition services for the materials salvaged from the demo, helping reduce their materials costs. We were able to demonstrate using reclaimed lumber not only gives a second chance to wood that would normally be burned or end up in a landfill, but also provides support for the community and greater profitability for our suppliers. It’s a win-win!
During a recent visit, our partners were able to recover a significant supply of rosewood from an old building being demolished. Rosewood was not particularly valuable when the building was originally constructed, but diminishing supply from generations of harvesting, combined with the time it takes for trees to mature (50-70 years), has made this wood species very desirable.
It’s crazy to think the wood they had available for construction 50 years ago is the same wood prized for making fine furniture and musical instruments. Today, because of it’s endangered status, the only way to utilize rosewood is to harvest plantation grown trees or find reclaimed sources.
While a growing number of producers are seeing the benefits of using reclaimed materials, it’s still a process to change long-standing behaviors. LBE accepts the challenges of teaching the art of sustainability. Plus, the locals and our global team can't get enough of our excitement when they recover a supply of “used” wood. Giggles all around.