Is Mango Wood the New Bamboo?


Cluster of mango trees pre-harvest. Photo by Sapiens Solutions via Flickr

From bikes and floors to sheets and t-shirts, bamboo is well-known as a popular green choice because as a fast-growing grass, it's a renewable material. Hemp is also considered environmentally smart for a variety of products including its wood. Mango trees are also fast-growing and another sustainable source of timber -- once they stop bearing its sweet delicious fruit. More than 30 million metric tons of mango fruit are grown every year - and there are more than 1000 varieties of luscious mangoes. The mango tree can grow to a huge 80- to 100-foot height relatively quickly, when it then becomes difficult to harvest. With its limited lifespan for yielding the best fruit, the trees are cut down. On sustainably managed farms, mango trees are replaced every seven to 15 years with the barren tree providing farmers with extra income.


Mango wood tray from Mangowood Home harvested at a sustainably managed plantation.

As a sustainable source of hardwood, mango is best used for furnishings and home accessories such as bowls, vases, trays, shelving etc. as a good alternative wood choice. Its wood has a range of colors from blonde to dark brown, and can even show off a hint of pink, with unique grain. Though durable and as dense as ash or cherry wood, it's not hard enough for construction. Like bamboo flooring, it's probably not the best choice for walking on.

Tropical mango wood can have some hiccups in certain climates, such as the dry Southwest or cold Northeast where it requires care with occasional natural oil polishing. It is water-resistant but if not allowed to dehydrate, it can last for generations.

Most plantations are based in India and Southeast Asia in the Eastern Hemisphere, Mexico and Brazil in the Western Hemisphere, and there's also an Australian variety. So with the footprint in mind, mango tree wood is a eco-choice for enjoying the fruit of the harvest twice.

More on sustainable wood:
Rick Fedrizzi of USGBC on the Sustainable Wood Rating Debate
Rumble in the Lumberyard: Major Environmental Groups Support FSC
How to Know You're Buying Eco Wood?

Tags: Agriculture | Deforestation | Furniture

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