THE EFFICIENT SHOP
by Gero Sassenberg
Any product claiming to
be green while polluting
nature in its creation
and supply to market can
hardly be green.
There is certainly a lot of talk about
sustainability, conservation and green by
architects, designers, property developers, builders and cabinetmakers; but what
does it mean? If you really want to know
what “green” is, you should read Cradle to
Cradle, by William McDonough & Michael
Braungart. Even the material the book is
printed on, some kind of fully recyclable
stuff, is green. Then again, others are
saying timber and the lumber we use to
build things is also totally green as it is renewable. So also is particleboard without
All these expressions are clearly
about the material only. If the material
is green and is shipped from China to
North America, it is unfortunately no longer green. Transporting green material
long distances via ocean, rail and truck
to get to its destination makes it far less
green. Any product claiming to be green
while polluting nature in its creation and
supply to market can hardly be green.
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Green sheet goods like these samples
of formaldehyde-free plywood are
now widely available.
A green organization while producing
green products must also be green in
every aspect of its activities with regard
to design, engineering, manufacture, administration and supply to market. Above
all it must have a low environmentally
Ideally, at this time, it should have an
environmentally improving stance and
contribute to the betterment of our environment. Unfortunately, worldwide there
are not enough organizations taking up
this necessary burden.
Being a green organization
A company that builds sustainable
housing may quickly pronounce itself a
“Green Organization.” While that may be
so, a closer look at what a green organization is will quickly reveal that there is
a great chasm between a green product
and a green organization.
What can we do?
But to take our heads out of the
clouds, how can we cabinetmakers
do our part in this business of “going
green”? We can recycle. We can ascribe
to the philosophy, waste not, want not.
And we can offer our customers a green
product. Green particleboard is available
everywhere in North America. At this
time it is somewhat more expensive
because the volume used is small. Also
available is ABS edgebanding, a little
different in price from PVC, no difference
in application, but a lot greener.
You are asking why you should take
the extra effort to sell this more costly
material in these times when it is hard
enough to sell at all. Because by talking
about green you will raise the awareness
in people as to its importance.
Green to me is the key to sustainability, conservation and ultimately the
move to halt climate change. If all in the
cabinet business take this stance, we will
ultimately reach everyone on the planet
and will have done our part in saving it.
Would that not be efficiency to dream
Gero Sassenberg’s experience in the
woodworking industry spans more
than 30 years on three continents. He
has provided valuable advice to a wide
variety of businesses over the years. For
more information about his consulting
services, contact him directly at