Columbia had been pursuing an internal sustainability strategy for several years, but had done nothing to communicate these beliefs outside the company. This piece, prepared for inclusion in an educational package sent to high school shop teachers, gave us the opportunity to begin to develop some real language to address Columbia’s sustainability story. This piece provides an overview the principles of sustainability as it applies to wood and woodworking, from growth to harvest to manufacture.

Cover and orientation

We set up the piece with a simple cover showing an older and younger craftsman at rest, suggesting the continuity of knowledge passing from one generation to the next—itself a principle of sustainability. As we have done with other Columbia pieces, wood is given the glamour treatment; in this case, a nice book-matched piece of birch veneer.

The opening spread introduces how wood products—unlike other commercial goods—are a direct reflection of the health of the soil, water, air and climate they come from. The viability of the wood products industry depends on the integrity of its practitioners in every step of the production process. In the margins, we call out buzzwords and define them in plain language, a motif that continues throughout the piece.

Sustainability in practice.

Sustainability as practiced by Columbia Forest Products, including a survey of the company's supply chain and introductions to the Forest Stewardship Council and United States Green Building Council. Illustration shows PureBond hardwood plywood being manufactured at Columbia's Klamath Falls, Oregon, plant.

Sustainability by innovation.

Here, we talk about how sustainability can be enhanced by technological innovation and lateral thinking. The example is the genesis of Columbia’s PureBond formaldehyde-free manufacturing process, which was born out of biomimicry research the company had funded at Oregon State University’s College of Forestry. PureBond is modeled on the protein strcture that helps mussels cling to wet, rocky coastlines.

Sustainability in manufacture.

A discussion of how the principles of sustainability can be applied in the manufacturing process, including continuous improvement, active engagement with regulators, a policy of zero waste, and short mention of Columbia’s status as an employee-owned company.

Sustainable products.

Product-plugging time: we close with a rundown of three of Columbia's flagship product lines, showing applications and offering technical information.