A typical thing happened today in the life of Eco Brooklyn. One of our workers noticed a dumpster full of wood and called it in to the office. I dispatched our “Rescue Truck”, Eco Brooklyn’s veggie oil pickup, to go salvage the wood before it was carted off to the dump.

This wood has sat in a brownstone for over 80 years. It is beautiful douglass fir, in the form of studs or joists. Nice thick wood with another hundred years of life left to it, at least. It is beautiful wood. You can sand it down and put oil on it for a kitchen counter or island. You can cut it down and use as siding. Or cut it into planks for flooring. Or put it back into a house simply as joists or studs. It is like art. Art direct from nature.

You can’t get this wood today. It comes from old trees and has had a hundred years to cure. It is part of a long ago history when wood was as abundant and healthy as the bison.

When the driver and helper got to the dumpster the workers on the site had started putting soil on top of the wood. We asked if the contractor would stop for a few minutes to give my guys time to take out the wood. We don’t push the ecological logic in this situation. We point out the financial logic that the dumpster will cost about $800 and if we take half the wood we save the contractor maybe $400.

But the contractor refused. So my guys worked frantically to save the wood as the other workers poured soil on top of it. We got only six beams before the soil became too much to move. We watched as they covered up the other sixty beams.

Today we didn’t succeed. Some days we do but it is a constant fight.

Throwing away this wood should be a crime. The waste is so saddening. Such ignorance, such arrogance.

It is so frustrating that this is legally and morally acceptable. Thousands of dumpsters a year, millions of board feet a year thrown into the trash heap.

Sometimes I think I am surrounded by insanity. Or maybe I am insane.

One client I met with today just came back from the Amazon forest recording sounds. He has been going for ten years. He says it is getting hard to go because the forest is disappearing so fast before his eyes he can’t bear the pain. He said on the plane he overheard some forest company workers joking about how they had lied to government officials about the origin of a certain tree in order to log it. They thought it was funny.

We live in a spiraling time where we have the power to destroy or save the planet in an astoundingly short time. Never in the history of humanity have we had this power. There is a crisis in the world. Wake up. Become humble. Do good.