Kish and I try to be environmentally sensitive people. We recycle religiously, we walk rather than drive if possible, and we generally try to do whatever we can to reduce our carbon footprint. That includes buying products that purport to be protective of the environment.
Sometimes, though, the environmentally sensitive products have . . . issues.
Recently Kish picked up compressed hardwood firewood for our outdoor fire pit. The product looks like a kind of blond, fibrous brick, so it’s not exactly as attractive as old-fashioned logs. It’s considered “environmentally responsible” because it’s made from leftover wood, so it is a recycled product of a sort, there are no additives, and it purports to burn hotter and produce less smoke, ash, and creosote. We’ve found that it’s perfectly serviceable in the burning department, although it lacks that natural wood snap and crackle.
So, what’s the problem? The packaging for these wooden blocks says they should be stored in a dry place — which is perhaps the greatest commercial understatement since the Coca-Cola Company admitted that New Coke was off to a rocky start. What the package should say, in huge letters, is: UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU STORE THIS PRODUCT OUTSIDE OR EVER LET IT GET WET!!! Because, as we discovered to our chagrin, if you do expose the product to moisture, the “compression” element of the product goes poof, and you end up with split shrink-wrap packages from which mounds of sawdust, wood chips, and tiny splinters have erupted and spilled everywhere. And good luck cleaning up the dust and miniature toothpicks that somehow immediately find their way into every nook and cranny!
I guess it’s a small price to pay for less creosote.