Is Wood Biodegradable? Here are the Facts

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: May 2, 2021
  • Time to read: 3 min.

Nowadays, most homeowners prefer wood to other materials. And this keeps me wondering why. 

Like them, I usually pick up wood for my floors, doors, and furnishing. But here’s the big question that pops up in my mind, “is wood biodegradable”?

Could it be the most eco-friendly option? Probably, it is. 

To clear all this confusion, and as an environmentalist, I decided to do rigorous research and come up with the facts.

Of course, people are embarking on new ways to minimize their carbon footprint. 

Embracing a sustainable lifestyle and making greener choices can make a difference. 

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Is wood a biodegradable waste?

Yes, its waste is 100% biodegradable. 

Wood is a natural or organic material that quickly breaks down under the right conditions. 

Some of the natural factors that influence the decomposition process include:

  • Water-Water seeps into tiny pores of the wood, thus loosening the fibers. Again, running water breaks fibers and separates them apart. A good example is a rainwater.
  • Fire – fire can burn wood into ash without causing harm to the environment.  
  • Air – Air, which comes in the form of wind, is responsible for decomposing wood fibers.
  • Insect attacks – Insects like termites eat wood fibers, digest them and expel them in rich soil. 

It decomposes from microbes and fungi, a very definition of biodegradable. 

If exposed or left out in the open, it will rot in a short time. 

And why is wood biodegradable? It’s naturally grown. 

Everything natural grown, flora, and fauna is biodegradable. 

According to the Forestry Commission, it’s hard to find waste in timber production. 

All by-products and offcuts from wood industries can be used to make cardboards, clipboards, and papers. 

Eventually, wood waste will break down into the earth, thus an eco-earthly option.

Why is Wood Bad for the Environment?

Really! Wood smoke can impact the environment as it isn’t climate-friendly. 

Many homes in the United States have fireplaces, while others use wood-burning stoves. 

First off, burning wood can cause air pollution. In recent times, The California Environmental Agency asked citizens to clear smoke from the air. 

Meaning, smoke from fireplaces and stoves is the typical source of reduced visibility and odor. 

The smoke contains: 

  • Toxic pollutants like benzene 
  • soot (carbon) 
  • carbon monoxide
  • sulfur dioxide, 
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
  • Dioxins and fine particles. 

All these may affect and degrade air quality to the residents. 

Inside our homes, wood stoves may leak dangerous fine particles that are indoor air pollutants. 

When wood burns, there’s incomplete combustion. 

Many natural substances like carbon released are toxic to both living creatures and the environment during the process. 

Black carbon and methane are responsible for climate change. 

Short exposures to these traces can cause severe health problems, including headaches, confusion, dizziness, coughing, and respiratory irritation. 

Among the young population, I am breathing wood smoke results in asthma attacks, while it causes heart diseases in the older population. 

Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) combine with toxic pollutants and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) to form an ozone layer. 

Together with water vapor, there’s the formation of acid fog and acid rain that ends up in oceans.

What’s The Most Eco-Friendly Wood?

Wood has proven to be the most environmentally and sustainable construction material in the market. 

For this reason, ethical homeowners do seek eco-friendly wood flooring for their homes. These may include:

  • Bamboo – It can replace wood for those who consider beauty and durability without any potential environmental risks.
  • Cork – You can safely harvest it from the bark of the cork oak, causing any harm to the whole tree. 
  • Reclaimed wood. With it, you don’t need to harvest more trees. This promotes the reduce-reuse-recycle sustainability equation.
  • Wood from FSC-certified tree plantations – 

Final Thoughts

Wood is biodegradable. It’s made up of organic fiber, which decomposes when you expose it to water, air, insects, and more. 

It can harm the environment in terms of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, depending on how you dispose of it. 

Truth be told, wood remains the most preferred material.-

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