Ukes and endangered woods.....shouldn't we care more?

I've read a lot of talk here about woods of various kinds and which woods are better for what sound, and so on and so forth....but I can't find any discussion at all about wood choices in ukuleles and their environmental impact. Mahogony, for example, is a terrible choice in terms of the effect on world rainforests. When I was looking for my current uke I wrote to Kala asking them about where they source their woods and what they had to say about environmental impact, and they didn't even respond. I chose an acacia uke because I read a guide from rainforestrelief.org that said that acacia was a good alternative wood in its list of woods to avoid. You can see the pdf that I read here:
http://www.rainforestrelief.org/documents/Guidelines.pdf
I'd like to see more people talking about this issue here. So what do you think? Do environmental considerations ever enter in to the equation when you are choosing a uke?
For me, always! I'll either buy a bamboo uke or a used Uke. I do not buy new Ukes for which the manufacturer cannot tell me where the wood comes from.
 
Ukuleles are such a tiny concern, but supporting someone local making few instruments with recycled wood at a luthier price has got to be the best solution. Buy one for life. We're, as a race, all going to be unable to do anything about it before things get nasty. It's all too tied to continued economic growth - peoples' businesses. "Recycling" generally is a bit of a false hope in many cases; too much is found dumped or burnt in poorer countries. We need to massively reduce our footprint, re-using and doing less globally. Buy fewer, buy higher quality, play more.
 
Thanks, Chris, for reviving this 14-y-o thread.

At least one UUF member is now offering a 3D printed uke. Admittedly, that’s a different can of worms in terms of the long term environmental impact of polycarbonate but zero trees are harvested:).

Additionally, these ukes are genuinely weatherproof because EVERY PORTION is poly, including 3D printed geared tuners. Per @bazmaz’s prior reviews of the $45-60 Kala / Makala Waterman, metal tuners on “beach/ boating/ canoeing/ camping” ukes have never made sense because they will eventually rust, thus defeating the all- weather purpose.

Unless they’ve changed things recently, it’s my understanding that even the $175+ carbon fiber Outdoor uke has metal tuners. And, as much as I love Magic Fluke, the same is true of the otherwise rugged and well designed Flea and Fluke.
 
Additionally, these ukes are genuinely weatherproof because EVERY PORTION is poly, including 3D printed geared tuners.
Ah, but those will probably wear out. And if it gets really hot, like in a car on a hot day hot, then you might find the neck warps. I knew someone who had that happen to a Clearwater uke he brought to a festival once. Took it out of the boot of his car and it had about an inch of action.

My feeling is keeping an old instrument going is the least possible damage. And having one uke rather than making lots of impulse purchases. The price is sort of irrelevant if you think about your instruments are a price per hour.
 
Found that Cameroon is about the only place left in the world to legally get ebony. Taylor guitars partnered with folks that harvest & mill the wood. They supply ebony to everyone else now. Bob Taylor learned that only 1 in 10 ebony trees have the uniform black color which was desired & they have to cut the tree down to find out. The amount they could get for the other 9 trees wasn't worth the effort to bring the wood out so they'd leave them in the forest. Bob decided to use all the types of ebony because there was nothing wrong with the wood. He started using this wood & now other manufacturers have followed suit.
 
Seems like uke manufacturers and luthiers are actively pursuing sustainable woods as well as reclaimed woods.
 
Found that Cameroon is about the only place left in the world to legally get ebony. Taylor guitars partnered with folks that harvest & mill the wood. They supply ebony to everyone else now. Bob Taylor learned that only 1 in 10 ebony trees have the uniform black color which was desired & they have to cut the tree down to find out. The amount they could get for the other 9 trees wasn't worth the effort to bring the wood out so they'd leave them in the forest. Bob decided to use all the types of ebony because there was nothing wrong with the wood. He started using this wood & now other manufacturers have followed suit.
Fine with me. I actually like the look of an ebony fretboard that's not all one color, i.e. black.
 
I really think this is an important topic. That was also one of the reasons why I got a carbon fibre ukulele of course plastic is also not the best, but at least better than using endangered trees.
I think the best option is buying used instruments, but of course you have to find something you look for in secondhand, which can be difficult. If you want something that is not popular
 
Something that makes me sad is when I see influential makers still promoting their use of critically endangered species such as Brazilian rosewood. It's just unnecessary
The only brand that tried to go against that it's the german Baton Rouge with the rECOtimber series, they make ukuleles and guitars with european woods (german sprouce, cherry, maple, ash, cipress, eucalyptus...). There are many videos on youtube of they work the pieces of wood.

In my opinion it's only half and half sustainable, because they don't use endangered or exotic woods but at the same time they build their ukes in China. So they take the wood from Europe, ship them to China factory and then they ship the ukes back to Germany.

(I have one of their ukulele and sounds great btw)
 
It’s only tangentially related, but I always wonder how much exotic woods impact the sound. I.e. are we purchasing instruments made of rare woods because they perform better, or is it the illusion of higher quality, or maybe even conspicuous consumption? If it is primarily because of performance, is the difference enough to justify using the resources? I doubt that there is an objective answer.

I agree with the previous comment that the most ecologically sound approach is to buy ONE ukulele, even better if it’s used or made from reclaimed sources. But materially reducing consumption, in general, is much easier said than done - especially on a scale that would have a material benefit. There are too many emotional triggers involved (among other factors).
 
Seagull in Canada, make the M4, a dulcimer-style instrument popular with some ukulelists, a mandolin and a ukulele from locally-sourced spruce and maple. Some of their guitars, like the Maritime, use solid mahogany for the back and sides, which I think is plantation-grown (don't quote me on that!) but they still use the same silver-leaf maple for their S6 guitars they've always used! I try to buy used whenever I can. There was also the now-defunct Mariner Guitars in the UK which had a 'green' range of guitars.
 
It's not just harvesting wood. It's the mass production of anything. It all has a terrible negative environmental impact.

Please consider buying used. Restore, refurbish, re-use. Or even do without. As much as possible.

It's fun to have fun things. But it is an inescapable fact that the manufacture, packaging, distribution and ultimate disposal of products (so many of which are unnecessary and so many of which end up in a landfill months after purchasing--not to mention "single use" items like plastic water and soda bottles, disposable diapers, etc.) along with the mining for raw materials, is literally killing our planet. Our only home. Before our eyes.

What our children and grandchildren will inherit is going to become unliveable very quickly.
 
It's not just harvesting wood. It's the mass production of anything. It all has a terrible negative environmental impact.

Please consider buying used. Restore, refurbish, re-use. Or even do without. As much as possible.

It's fun to have fun things. But it is an inescapable fact that the manufacture, packaging, distribution and ultimate disposal of products (so many of which are unnecessary and so many of which end up in a landfill months after purchasing--not to mention "single use" items like plastic water and soda bottles, disposable diapers, etc.) along with the mining for raw materials, is literally killing our planet. Our only home. Before our eyes.

What our children and grandchildren will inherit is going to become unliveable very quickly.
Over production is such a reality of consumerist "buy more by more" societies.
 
There are ukulele luthiers that are very cognizant of sustainable and recycled/repurposed woods. Beansprout is one but there are more out there if you look.
Ukuleles are a minuscule factor in the grand scheme of things. Clearing for agriculture and building are most destructive. But it’s good to have a positive effect wherever you can.
 
On the fence, here...

The photo is a fence that I replaced last year. It is redwood. Probably every fence in the neighborhood is redwood and most are replacement fences in the last ten years. In fact most fences in the Bay Area are probably redwood. I remember when as a child when we drove into Marin County, you would inevitably get stuck behind logging trucks. Pass one and a bit later, be behind another. Much of Northern California on the coast was centered around the logging industry.

Now how many ukuleles made of redwood will impact the environment?

Focus here is naturally on ukuleles, but if trying to save the environment, maybe attention should be directed elsewhere. Apparently Brazilian rosewood was a favorite wood of guitar makers, but it is not the reason for it becoming endangered. The CITES stuff for it was put in to restrict export to furniture makers in China.

In other threads, koa is not endangered. Trees/rainforests, etc. are being (clear) cut because of agriculture and development, not musical instruments. Want to save some trees? Maybe stop eating beef is a better solution.

So railing against buying more ukuleles (unintended consequence may be that many go out of business?) is not on my radar at all for helping the environment. Ukuleles are a net plus for the world in my scorebook... more is better.

(and BTW, the plants in the photo include many native plant species for the bugs and birds along with a lot of weeds)
1712780242457.jpeg
 
Jonathan Dale of Jupiter Ukulele is a strong proponent of locally-sourced or repurposed woods and has harvested many tone woods near his home in Eastern Pennsylvania. I have a Jupiter Tenor with a body of Pennsylvania Sycamore (a gorgeous wood!) and a top of reclaimed Redwood from New York City water tanks. My other Jupiter Tenor has a body of locally-cut English Walnut and another reclaimed Redwood top. Both are gorgeous instruments and the sound is as nice as instruments made from rare, exotic, endangered, tropical hardwoods. It's really all about the design and the skills of the builder.
 
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