You pull up at camp ready to enjoy the great outdoors. It’s a space you love and enjoy. You do your best to respect it. You’ve packed efficiently with as minimal waste as possible. Space is precious and the last thing you want to do is leave a bunch of trash behind after a weekend exploring some of the great wild spaces of the U.S. You have your ground coffee in a mason jar. Beer in a can for easy recycling. Reusable plates and silverware instead of disposable. You’re making an effort. Hell you may have even driven a hybrid car to the site or biked/hiked in. You’re ready to make dinner and the campsite’s fire pit has a grill grate.
You saw the signs coming in and have seen the ravages non-native bugs can have on forests so you didn’t bring firewood with you. You collect what you can off the ground around the site. A Park Ranger/Host pulls up in a forest green truck. “Need any wood?” he asks.
“Sure thing,” you say, “4 bundles please.” You pull a $20 out of your pocket. The Ranger takes it moves around to the back of the truck and drops 4 bundles of campfire wood on the ground. Gets in the truck and moves on.
You stare at the wood you just spent more money on than a half dozen propane tanks or a case of High Life. 5-8 sticks of manufactured wood. Shipped in from somewhere else and wrapped in about 8 feet of plastic. What. The. Fuck.
This has been confounding us as long as we have been camping. Why is the wood wrapped in plastic, and why so much of it? Why is the wood shipped in when there is plenty of local wood? A camp host with a weekend and splitter could make more wood then most campgrounds need just off trees culled locally or from downed trees. In our head we can understand the need for manufactured wood (kind of), and can justify having it brought in to maintain cost and consistency from site to site (kind of). There is no way we can justify having it wrapped in plastic.
Plastic carries toxins that leach into waterways, the ground and our blood stream. It creates massive waste and doesn’t break down…really ever. Even when it does degrade it remains as plastic dust. If humans disappeared (according to this terrifying video) plastic would be the last remaining indicator humans existed. And it would exist for 50 MILLION YEARS AFTER WE WERE GONE!
So why are the parks systems using plastic to wrap and sell their campfire wood? Is it the only option? Is it not feasible to keep the wood easy to move and ship another way? Digging around on why leads you down a path of a companies extolling the virtues of their system of wrapping the wood in plastic. You’ll learn about different qualities of plastic, the affordability of wrapping wood in plastic, the various manufacturing machines and how easy it is for you as a consumer to wrap wood in plastic.
Off the top of our heads we came up with several other options including burlap string, hemp, flax, organic cotton. A google search brought us to jute. A natural fiber that is easy to grow and affordable. Why the hell aren’t you using jute to wrap the wood NPS? How about you NFS?
What you won’t find are any answers other than cheap and easy. Time to get ahead of the curve.
Here are some facts (from Wikipedia) about Jute: Click the link for more.
- Jute fiber is 100% bio-degradable and recyclable and thus environmentally friendly.
- Jute has low pesticide and fertilizer needs.
- It is a natural fiber with golden and silky shine and hence called The Golden Fiber.
- It is the cheapest vegetable fiber procured from the bast or skin of the plant’s stem.
- It is the second most important vegetable fiber after cotton, in terms of usage, global consumption, production, and availability.
- It has high tensile strength, low extensibility, and ensures better breathability of fabrics. Therefore, jute is very suitable in agricultural commodity bulk packaging.