A growing concern: Five ways to help protect the forest

Consumer Reports News: October 20, 2010 03:51 PM

If you're not a toilet paper salesman or Smokey the Bear, you might have missed the fact this is the 50th anniversary of National Forest Products Week. Seriously though, deforestation is a big deal. Consider that in the last decade, roughly 130 million hectares of forest were lost to other use or natural causes, according to the United Nations’ Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010. While some forests were replanted and rehabilitated, the net loss for the decade still totaled an area the size of Costa Rica.  
Hence the weeklong awareness, which President Obama helped usher in. “Through careful conservation of our forests, we can ensure future generations will be able to both enjoy these national treasures and expand upon the many uses we have for their products today,” the president said during his prepared proclamation.
Many forest-related products pass through our Consumer Reports test labs each year. Here are five that you can choose to help keep our forests healthy.
Greener toilet paper
More manufacturers are rolling out toilet paper made with 100 percent recycled content. Marcal claims that its Small Steps line, which also includes napkins, tissues, and paper towels, has saved nearly 25 million trees since 2000. Marcal’s two-ply recycled toilet paper costs just 8 cents per 100 sheets and in Consumer Reports toilet paper review it did well in the tough disintegration tests. As with Seventh Generation recycled toilet paper, you will have to sacrifice some softness and strength compared with traditional rolls.

Wood pellet stoves
These stoves burn pellets made from compressed sawdust and other renewable resources, making them a forest-friendly alternative to wood-burning fireplaces. Wood pellet stoves burn more efficiently too, since so much heat from traditional fireplaces flies up the chimney. You can earn a federal tax credit on a new wood pellet stove (Ratings of six tested models available to subscribers) if you have it installed before December 31, 2010. 
Bamboo flooring
This fast-growing woody grass is a more-sustainable alternative to timber. Bamboo shoots can be harvested in just four years. What's more, many manufacturers have switched to strand bamboo, which makes for harder flooring than the strip bamboo of old. In our latest flooring review, EcoTimber’s Woven Honey bamboo beat out other solid wood products by a wide margin, thanks to its exceptional dent-resistance.
Heart-set on hardwood floors? Be sure to choose a product that’s certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.   
Synthetic decking
Most homeowners who install decks still use wood. But our latest decking tests show that synthetic planks can offer good looks with less upkeep. CertainTeed’s EverNew plastic decking, $1,000 per 100 square feet plus installation, was our top scorer, combining excellent resistance to sagging and stains with very good tread. For about half the cost, consider the CorrectDeck CX, a composite made of ground-up wood and plastic. If you already have a wood deck, extend its life by treating it with one of our recommended wood stains
Fiber cement siding
This blend of cement, sand, and cellulose looks like traditional clapboard siding. Though not maintenance-free, it doesn’t need to be refinished as often as wood. Fiber cement is also insect-proof, a plus where termites are a concern. Check our full report on siding materials for more information. 
—Daniel DiClerico

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Appliances News


Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings


Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more