Dear Umbra,

I’ve been looking for a sustainably harvested bunk bed for my five-year-old son for quite some time now. I have found only one company, Pacific Rim, that makes such an item. It seems like a great company, but it doesn’t have exactly what I’m looking for. When I search online, all I read about are “super low, unbeatable prices,” rather than the really important details, like whether it’s any good for our planet. Do you have a list of businesses that carry sustainably harvested wooden furniture (including bunk beds)?

Thanks so much,

Sleepless without Sustainable
(Kathy, actually)
Egg Harbor City, N.J.

Dearest Kathy,

Not only did you make the strange/silly list, you actually inspired us to start it. Your question is special to us here at Grist, because we admire your perseverance as an environmentally concerned consumer. And we certainly don’t want your son to outgrow bunk beds before you’re able to find an appropriate one.

Isn’t it good, sustainable wood?
Photo: Appalachian Sustainable
Development.

It may be that you’ve been searching for bunk beds, when you should be looking for your defining subset: sustainably harvested wood. Try an environmental-products clearinghouse, like EcoBusiness Links , where you can hunt around for exactly what you need. If there is an environmental home-supply store near you, or perhaps a lumber-salvage outfit, it may also have regional resources for low-impact furniture. Another option is to investigate a sustainable-wood certification agency. Lumber from forests that meet ecological and social harvest standards is certified by groups such as the Forest Stewardship Council. These groups are part of a worldwide movement to change forestry practices through consumer action. Follow the links to find companies that build furniture from this ecologically vetted wood.

Given your obvious dedication to this project, have you considered buying salvaged wood and hiring a carpenter to make what you need? Nothing beats re-using wood — and, to make matters even better, it would spread the joy: The local economy would get your money, and you’d get the custom-made bunk bed of your dreams.

Sawzall,
Umbra