We like what the guys at Minnesota’s Woodchuck USA are about: namely, making lasting products with a lasting impact. Every time you buy a Woodchuck USA product, they plant a tree — with a goal to plant three billion by 2040.
And since we both care about protecting our surrounding environment, from our world’s oceans and forests to our own coffee tables, we decided to team up with Woodchuck USA to create a set of wood coasters with hand-drawn outdoor designs. (The entire UBB team now uses them to protect our desks from coffee mug rings.)
Bonus: Every time you buy a set, Woodchuck USA plants a tree, and United By Blue removes a pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways.
We chatted with Woodchuck USA’s scrappy owner, Ben (aka the brains behind their creative line of etched wood journals, wood veneer iPhone cases, and real wood pocket squares) about the impact each Woodchuck USA product makes, what inspires his daring wood designs, and his pipe dream next project.
Tell us more about Woodchuck USA. What inspired you to found the company?
It started back when I was an architecture student working three jobs to pay for college. I was drinking a beer late one night and just decided to slap a chunk of wood on the back of my iPhone 4 to protect the (already broken) glass.
Photo courtesy of Woodchuck USA
We're obviously all about the buy one, plant one model (since we remove a pound of trash from the ocean every time we sell a product). What kind of trees do you plant and where? What impact does that have on the environment?
Phew. We plant lots of types of trees, but our two primary locations to date are throughout the Midwest and most recently Madagascar. There are hundreds of amazing books written on the impact trees have on the planet, but providing oxygen, stabilizing habitats, and providing a worldly “filtering system” are some of the key pieces.
Trees and plants are essential for our earth to function, and we’re restoring hundreds of years of damage to it. Our mission is simple: Inspire the wonder of nature. We want our future generations to be able to explore and adventure in places even more beautiful than we have now (not the other way around).
Other than purchase Woodchuck USA products, what can people do to protect forests?
PLANT YOUR OWN TREES TOO! Talk with your county’s local forester to ask what kind of trees might be best. Also, support other companies that have a mission around helping the planet as a whole. Forests are just a part of the world’s system that allows us to live here and enjoy it!
What do you wish more people knew about the state of our forests right now?
They need help. Outside of deforestation in a lot of third world countries, climate change is posing all kinds of issues for tree species across the globe. Increasing or decreasing temperatures allow different bugs or viruses to affect plant life and can kill off thousands of acres at a time. Replanting biodiverse species is the key to creating sustainably long lasting forests.
We love how you use wood to create unexpected items (like wood journals, wood pocket squares). How do you come up with these ideas? What would you like to make next?
We’re using all kinds of advanced machinery (not typically used in woodworking) to manipulate wood in ways never tried before. Wrapping, bending, and doing other crazy stuff to make kickass products.
What will you personally use our UBB x Woodchuck USA coasters for?
I’m bringing them to our family cabin so I can set a beer down without wrecking my mom’s coffee table.
What's your favorite thing to do outside?
Extreme adventure stuff. Any time my mind is fully consumed with the moment at hand, and I have to concentrate on not dying, I feel fully at peace. Nature has so many opportunities to do that (skydiving, climbing, downhill mountain biking, flying, free diving, swimming with sharks…).
If you could travel anywhere in the world (or galaxy), where would you go?
For sure another galaxy. We’ll probably work on woodchucking the next spacecraft with Elon for that.
What are you most proud of (besides your accomplishments with Woodchuck USA)?
Honestly, I’m most proud of of our team. Building a company from scratch is effing hard. The team we’ve built and are building is what’s going to allow us to change the world in a really, really big way.
Photo courtesy of Woodchuck USA