Renewable Materials

Apart from materials derived from waste or those that are recycled, we also have the option to use materials that are naturally renewed. Examples of this are plantation timbers (which do come with their own set of problems).

Plantation Woods

It is almost impossible to be sure that the wood we get in India comes from sustainable plantations. Most vendors haven’t a clue and the smart ones will see your interest and have not the slightest hesitation in assuring you that the wood you’re looking at has never been in a natural forest in its life. Our Sal [Shorea robusta] comes from South East Asia and our Teak [Tectona grandis] comes from Western Africa but that’s as far as our information goes.

We do get pine, cedar and hemlock from sustainable forests in Canada etc. but these are soft woods that our local carpenters are unfamiliar with and, when they mess up, they quickly blame the wood.

Recently, I came across a supplier of wood who says his products are all certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council and I’d like to see more local suppliers do the same – after all, if it’s been certified outside the country, then the material too has been transported a very long way from its source!


This is a prime example of a renewable resource – seeing as it is the fastest growing plant in the world. It is also versatile and can be converted into all sorts of panel products like plywood, flooring and even fabric. It isn’t always easy, but it may be prudent to determine the source of the raw material to make sure it’s from a sustainable plantation and not from a forest. Bamboo is considered by many to be our only hope for the future.

There are innumerable resources for Bamboo on the internet.

Oriented Strand Board [OSB]

Unlike plywood that needs large logs to produce, OSB can make do with even thin ones from fast-growing plantation trees. It isn’t available in India but, hopefully, will be here in a few years…

I’ve been given to understand that some dealers get hold of waste chipboard from packaging in shipping containers, which they then sell as OSB. It’s fantastic that they’re recycling the chipboard; I’m just making you aware that it’s not the same as OSB.

To understand what OSB is, try the wikipedia article or go to the OSB Guide


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