Love music? Save the tonewoods. Buy shade-grown coffee.


The future of the guitar and a number of other wooden instruments may be in jeopardy, because many of the forest species that give them their unique sound are in jeopardy. According to the conservation group Fauna & Flora International, more than 200 species of trees are used to make musical instruments, and 70 of those are threatened with extinction. These include mahogany, Honduras cedar and Honduras rosewood, all of which are used in guitars.

In response, major guitar manufacturers like Gibson, C. F. Martin, Fender and Taylor have joined forces with Greenpeace to launch the Music Wood Campaign, an effort to increase the supply of tonewoods certified as responsibly harvested by the Forest Stewardship Council. Gibson and Martin already make guitars from certified woods.

What can you do to help? Buy shade-grown coffee. The connection may not be obvious, but Greenpeace says that many of the forests where tonewoods are sourced are being clear-cut to make room for coffee plantations. Shade-grown coffee (look for the certified by the Rainforest Alliance is grown under protective rain forest canopies, not on plantations.