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Wood: A Sustainable flooring

By Cindy Humiston Weed

Wood has been the go-to material for flooring for centuries. It’s not only an attractive, durable and biodegradable natural resource, when harvested and grown in a responsible manner, it is also sustainable.

Long before “being green” was popular, Planet Hardwood in St. George, Vermont was ethically sourcing what they believed to be the most earth-friendly and health-friendly hardwood flooring available anywhere on the planet.

“Every product we offer is scrutinized for its impact on the planet and its impact to your health,” said Peter Nazarenko, 64, the founder and co-owner of Planet Hardwood.

Peter Nazarenko and his wife, Diane Nazarenko, have been in the wood business in its many incarnations for over 40 years. Peter Nazarenko started helping flooring mills with environmental certification and developing certified flooring products back in 1993.

“Wood is inherently the most environmentally responsible building material, especially when compared to any other floor covering. Concrete, vinyl and even quarried products are environmental disasters by comparison,” Peter Nazarenko said. “Wood flooring also takes less energy to produce, leaves no toxic trail, has no waste by-products, harbors no allergens, and adds value to property. It can outlast carpet, for example, by a factor of 10.”

In order to bring the most spectacular woods to Planet Hardwood’s customers, Peter Nazarenko has been all over the world visiting sawmills and promoting responsible forestry. The result: His showroom offers ample space for large flooring samples of ash, birch, cherry, maple, hickory, oak and walnut plus exotic woods like cork, canary wood, cuchi, curcupay, sirari, soto, haro and morado. The company’s pre-finished hardwoods comes in all three grades: “country,” “natural,” and “select,” the grade assigned according tothe number of short pieces, knots, contrasting colors and grain patterns.

“It is very important that all the wood is used,” Peter Nazarenko explained.

Planet Hardwood also carries other eco- and people-friendly products for buildings like Safecoat paints, stains, coatings and cleaning products, American Clay Plaster, low-VOC mastics and finishes for wood flooring, cork and Marmoleum. The last is a flooring material made from pressed flax seed oil, pine resin and wood flour. For the kitchen, Planet Hardwood offers bamboo counter tops and a new state-of-the-art counter top material called Richlite, made with 10,000 layers of recycled paper that are compressed under 50,000 pounds of pressure. They supply floor underlayment, floor stains and installation tools.

To support sustainable businesses, the Planet Hardwood showroom has space allotted to John Monks and his business, VT Tree Goods of Bristol, Vermont to display some of his unique recycled wood furniture. Starting with logs discarded or otherwise unusable to the commercial logging industry, Monks saws slabs in order to construct a variety of chairs, tables and benches.

“I like to support his idea for another wood-based business,” Peter Nazarenko said.

For more information about health and environmental issues in the building and home improvement industry, such as preventative maintenance and the dos and don’ts of caring for wood products and flooring, the Planet Hardwood website and blog are invaluable sources.

Cindy Humiston Weed, Enosburg Falls, Vermont, is a freelance writer and photographer; owner of Jewelwood of Vermont, wooden jewelry and barrettes; owner of Weed Public Relations; and former Vermont state legislator.

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