Posted by Scott Hackett on Mon, Dec 19, 2016 @ 6:34 AM
The benefits of urban trees are well established – from improving mental health, increasing property values, storing carbon, and absorbing rainfall. But, what happens to them when they eventually succumb to disease, urban development, weather, or old age? Traditionally, they are ground up and sent to the tip.
In New Jersey, brothers Ted and Zeb Esselstyn, are giving urban trees a second life – creating furniture and wall art from felled urban trees and selling them via their business, City Bench. “Urban wood is a seriously un-utilized resource in our country’s metropolitan areas,” says Zeb. “The city of New Haven probably takes down around 700 trees a year. We don’t have the capacity to take them all, but we do salvage and mill a lot of them.”
Sawmills generally decline to reuse urban trees for lumber, due to their wear and tear. Ted says, “We hit metal on a majority of the trees we mill, from bullets to electric cables to nails. We revel in it. The beat-up quality is what gives the wood character.”
Touchingly, their main business comes from individuals who have lost beloved trees on their property. Ted says, “We’ve had clients weeping in front of us about the loss. We soften the blow by letting the trees continue to live.”