Image Source: Janne Hellsten/Flickr
Moving towards making more conscious choices is a process. The transition can take weeks, months, and even years! We have our whole diet and lifestyle to consider, and some aspects of this are harder to change than others. Consider the home, for example. Once upon a time it’s almost certain we bought items that weren’t cruelty-free, ethically-sourced or sustainably-produced. Some of these items are more obvious than others, such as feather-filled duvets or leather couches, and then there is wood.
Sometimes it’s the most basic things in life that we overlook but our furniture, and other wood-based products, should always be chosen with care. Wood is perhaps one of the most versatile materials used today as it is suitable for a variety of items, combining elegance with strength, whilst also proving easy to manipulate into any form or shape. However, although wood is both appealing and useful, almost all of these products are made with timber from unsustainable logging practises.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Most of the wood products we have in our home today come from forests that have been harvested by clear-cutting, a method which involves the entire forest being levelled. All os the trees and vegetation are removed, completely obliterating the landscape, before being replaced by a single-variety tree farm.
In removing all of these trees we’re increasing the amount of carbon in the air, reducing biodiversity, and destroying the ecosystem(s). We need trees to produce oxygen, purify water, and stabilise the soil. The problem continues unabated, however, with approximately 40 million acres disappearing each year!
We might not be able to plant our own trees to harvest for furniture, but we can ensure that what wood products we do purchase are sustainable and come from well-managed forests. In response to the problems of deforestation, illegal logging, and global warming a few schemes have been introduced that help us identify whether timber has originated from forests that are well managed or not.
There are a number of schemes that offer forest certification, but there is only one global standard-setting organization in forest management, which is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Considered to be the best certification a wood product can receive, the organisation itself is an international non-profit promoting responsible and sustainable management of the world’s forests, as well as offering certification and labelling of forest products.
As part of this scheme the timber is tracked through the full supply chain to the end product, helping consumers make an informed choice. This helps us to know that the wood products come from well managed forests that are never clear-cut, with carefully selected trees being removed instead. We also know that care is taken so as to minimise damage to the soil and vegetation, in addition to leaving a mix of tree species behind so as to maintain biodiversity and a healthy habitat. Moreover, loggers wait up to 30 years (instead of between seven and eight) to allow the forest to regenerate before re-harvesting wood. Overall, it’s a much better process for everyone concerned!
10 TIPS TO BE GREEN
It is becoming easier to source FSC-certified wood items, in addition to which there are countless recycled and upcycled versions of day-to-day items. Where possible, opt for something that is second-hand to help reduce overall consumption and minimise what ends up landfill. When it’s unavoidable to purchase something brand new, consider the following:
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