Pine trees are associated with winter. And also timber, right? Because every year, 600 million pine trees are cut down just within EU.
How Can We Use the Byproduct
Pine needles are the leaves, and they account for 20 to 30 percent of pine tree’s mass. Usually, they go unused. Even in Japan, they are classified as “industrial waste.” 40 or so years ago, the locals in Japan would often use the pine needles as fuel. However, gas and electrical appliances developed fast. Soon the locals stopped using pine needles for fuel, and the city government took over the process of the disposal for excess pine needles.
Pine needles can also be used as mulch, a material (such as decaying leaves, bark, or compost) spread around or over a plant to enrich or insulate the soil. Dry pine needles will prevent the dehydration of the soil, thereby making the weeds hard to grow. Pine needles are especially useful as mulch because of its special effect of termite repellent. A natural mulch can safely be used not only in public places but also at houses with kids.
Mirai Clinical, a Japanese company, based in the U.S. released shampoo with components derived from pine needles. A natural low-shampoo was created to spread the Japanese cultural concept of Mottainai, a term that carries a sense of regret over waste.
Slowly, but surely, pine needles are being up-cycled. They are also substitutable as paper, made into essential oils or dye. Pine Needle, as a material is suitable for commercial use.
Below is another ingenious example of how pine needles can be turned into something useful.
An Innovative Idea of Creating Wool
A Russia born designer Tamara Orjola, had researched the potential ways of efficiently utilizing the natural byproducts. Natural materials are valuable. However, they are also seldom used because of their difficulty to find in large amounts. Take fibers for example. The conventional way of producing fibers was to ignore sustainability and promote mass-production.
Orjola grew up being surrounded by pine trees. Pine trees are evergreen, long-living trees typically found in Northern Hemisphere mainly spread down from Indonesia and up to Russia, Canada, and to the Arctic. Pine trees were often utilized as remedies, construction materials, and manufactured into furniture. These days, it is used mainly as timber. Deforestation is as important as the issue of animal abuse. Deforestation, in a sense, is an abuse of nature. Although we do have to seek for the means to at least reduce the amount of cut down trees, meanwhile, we also have to find a way to utilize what mother nature has created for us over hundreds of years of time.
Orjola focused on the byproducts of pine trees – pine needles and started researching whether she could transfer pine needles into something useful like other plant-based fibers.
As a result, “Forest Wool” was born. Forest Wool was made from excess pine needles. It is a natural fiber that is appliable various things such as a rug or furniture. Orjola made a beautiful oval rug and a stool. (Not on sale)
Through her work, we can see the adaptability and the vast potential of pine needles.
Orjola is based in London now. She works as a designer and continues to contribute to the environmental preservation and research throughout her artwork.