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Blog | 04/16/2019 05:18:07

Wood at every stage of our lives

Inka Musta

Senior Manager, Environment, UPM Wood Sourcing and Forestry

There is a lot of talk about forestry use and felling nowadays, but less emphasis on everyday wood products. When thinking about the use of forests, it is worth considering the reason behind felling: our constant need for wood-based products.

When we contemplate our everyday life, it becomes clear that wood is everywhere. One of my colleagues tends to start his presentations on forests with a personal question: “How many of you have used toilet paper today?” This invokes the audience to think about the importance of wood products in their own lives. Toilet paper is often regarded as a low-value-added product with a short life cycle, but how many of us could really manage without it?

What about living then? Today, only a small portion of apartment houses are made of wood (hopefully there will be more of them in the future), but on the other hand, wood is the most popular construction material for detached houses in Finland. And even if the house is made of concrete elements, a typical Finnish home is still full of wooden materials: pine bookcases, parquet floors, plywood cupboards, etc. Wood is a beautiful material that can be used in a number of ways. It feels warm under the feet and, according to studies, having timber decor at home also has health benefits.

Wood-based products are also used in the food industry, as food and drink is increasingly packed in wooden, not plastic, packaging. Packaging helps to ensure that food remains intact during transport and stays fresh longer. Even though one might think there is nothing special, for instance, in a juice carton, material efficiency is constantly being developed for basic products as well. Nowadays, less raw material is needed to produce more, better quality packaging material.

Wood-based products have a role in our free time as well. Despite the fact that digital entertainment is very popular these days, many people still read traditional newspapers at the breakfast table. On commuter buses, we can see people immersed in their smart devices, but in the evening, many of them happily grab a book before going to sleep to relax for a good night’s sleep without overstimulating the senses.

In addition to all these ordinary everyday products, wood can be used in wide variety of ways for exciting innovations as well. It is used for adhesives, binders and medical substances in the pharmaceutical industry, a thickening agent in food products, cell culture platforms, transport fuels and textiles. And we haven’t even discovered all the possible ways of processing wood into products yet! What makes wood a particularly excellent material is, first of all, its versatility, but also its renewability, eco-friendliness and great recycling and reusability potential, not to mention the alternative it offers to fossil fuels.

The grandiose title of this article was inspired by a video promoting the forest industry, which skilfully showed how wood is used in many everyday products and how it’s present in our lives from beginning to end. Indeed, many Finnish babies sleep for their first few months in a baby starter box, our national pride, which is made of cardboard and can double as a bed. And when the sun finally sets on our lives, we are buried in a casket, or more commonly nowadays, in an urn made of wood. Therefore, wood is truly present in every stage of our lives.

Author

Inka Musta

Inka Musta

Senior Manager, Environment, UPM Wood Sourcing and Forestry |
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