BY THE MASKED BIOLOGIST
Society today is very label conscious. Maybe you or someone you know insists on buying “Made in America” items whenever possible, or cruelty free beauty products that have not been tested on animals. I know a lot of people like us who look for packaging made of recycled or recyclable materials. Common label components we might seek or use to help us select one food product over another indicate they are pesticide, gluten, salt, fat, lactose, nut, or preservative free. The foodie movement even takes label and logo scrutiny to another level. It is now common to see “organic” on a label, or locally sourced, or non-GMO (free of genetically modified organisms.) We can speak with our consumer dollar; manufacturers and retailers are aware of this and capitalize on it.
Recently, my wife caught me taking photos of logos and she asked what I was doing. I told her I was doing research for this article, on a scavenger hunt for goods around our house that had the SFI logo, a rather austere line logo of a pine tree inside a leaf outline. She had never heard of this logo, even though she had been buying products that bore it. I bet if you pay close attention to products in your house, or while you are shopping, you will start to notice it as well. Perhaps if you have seen SFI logos on products, you may not have given them much thought. You have the opportunity to speak with your consumer dollar here, and seek products that are SFI certified.
SFI is the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, an independent nonprofit organization that runs an internationally recognized certification program by the same name. Back in 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development sought a third-party forest certification program to address market concerns about forest management and illegal logging, primarily in developing countries. The SFI program was launched in 1994 by a group of U.S. Forest products companies, and by 1998 it developed into the first SFI national standard backed by third-party audits in 1998. Today, there are over 280 million acres of forests in the United States and Canada that are SFI certified as part of the largest single forest management standard in the world.
You might wonder why you should choose a product with an SFI logo. SFI is an organization that ensures forests are managed and harvested sustainably. They audit their members, ensuring active and recently completed timber sales were properly established, administered, and harvested. They look for signs of invasive species, erosion, rutting, or other potential negative impacts. They ask if the public was given the opportunity to review forest management plans for properties, and if timber sales match up with existing management plans. They ask about detriments and benefits to a vast array of wildlife species, ensuring there is adequate wildlife habitat across the landscape to benefit as many as possible. Lands owned and managed by many government agencies, industries and private landowners volunteer to enroll their properties in this certification program to make their products more salable and ensure their forests are properly protected and managed while being fully utilized.
If you are shopping for food in cardboard cartons; paper products like printer paper, notebooks or facial tissues; even larger items like building materials and furniture check for the SFI logo. Over 6,500 different products have been SFI logo approved. You can go to the SFI website (http://www.sfiprogram.org/) and search for SFI products by type or manufacturer. Consider using your consumer dollar to tell the retailers and manufacturers that sustainable forestry is important to you.
The Masked Biologist earned a bachelor of science degree from a university with a highly regarded Wildlife Biology program. He has worked for natural resource agencies from the Rocky Mountains, across the Great Plains and into the Midwest, which provided opportunities to work with a variety of common and rare fish, plant and wildlife species. Follow The Masked Biologist on Facebook.