"Get in For More. It's Just Gooder."

From Forest to Factory, Taylor Guitars practices Eco-Responsibility at Every Level.
Jul 18, 2012 10:00 PM ET

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Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug established Taylor Guitars in 1974 and have watched it evolve into one of the world’s leading manufacturers of premium acoustic, acoustic/electric and electric guitars.

In the music world they are highly regarded for their attention to detail to design coupled with an innovative use of modern technology. This marriage of talents created (and continue to create) what are widely considered to be guitars that not only have the best sound on the market, but are among the easiest guitars to play in the world. Hundreds of guitars are produced per day in their state-of-the-art facilities in California and Mexico, which are then distributed to an active dealer network of over 800 retail locations in North America and international distribution to 60 countries. To produce such a large number of guitars takes a great deal of power and wood and this company takes its commitment to sustainability, on all levels, to heart.

“Guitar building is fun. We’re just trying not to screw it up and we don’t want to screw it up by mistreating our employees, or our customers, or the planet, or the forests that our trees grow in, or the people that live in those areas.” 
—Bob Taylor

Taylor Guitars recognizes its part as an active participant in a worldwide ecosystem and understand that, in order to continue a successful business and safeguard their future, the natural resources used to create the guitars must be managed responsibly. It is of the utmost importance to the company that their customers trust and understand that to purchase a Taylor Guitar means they are supporting the highest levels of ethical, eco-conscious business.
The same innovative thinking that created their award-winning guitars was put to use to develop smarter ways to reduce waste and protect the natural resources needed to build their product. Taylor Guitars reached out to create a partnership with GreenWood Global, a non-profit environmental organization that empowers forest-based communities to support themselves through sustainable forestry practices. Bob Taylor uses the following analogy to explain the importance about changing the way we think about logging.

“An apple grows on a tree…but you pick the apple and leave the tree. If you cut down the tree to pick the apple, you don’t have an apple tree anymore and wood doesn’t grow on trees, wood grows in a forest and trees grow in forests and so if you save the forest, you save the tree. Modern logging needs to be done in a way where we’re leaving the forest intact.”

Since 2001, GreenWood has trained more than 100 Honduran artisans and secondary-forest owners. Seven years later, they added another two dozen Peruvian artisans to that list who earn their full-time living form the sale of Green Wood furniture. Sharing their beliefs that people and the environment are not two separate entities but one interdependent whole, GreenWood and Taylor Guitars recognize the importance in enlisting the participation and support of the people who live in the forests to be the ones to protect it. They help people connect their own personal livelihood to the survival of the forests.

Beyond the forest, Taylor’s manufacturing innovation has helped lighten their carbon footprint. By changing the specifications for milling neck wood from mahogany trees, they were able to create a more stable guitar neck while increasing the number of guitar necks yielded from each tree harvested by nearly 50 percent. Their guitar box inserts use recyclable materials thanks to a partnership with eco-minded Reflex Packaging and Taylor Guitars even developed an environmentally friendly guitar finish.

In 2011, the company recycled and reused more than 35 tons of cardboard along with tens of thousands of pounds of paper and office products showing their ongoing commitment to recycle across all levels of the company. Even the scrap wood pieces are donated to a local woodworking association to be turned into toys for orphans in Mexico.

Beautiful design and outstanding playability make these guitars the choice of many but it is their commitment to the environment from the forest the wood is harvested from, to the factory the instruments are manufactured in, that should be music to the ears of all.