We are presented with so many choices when we furnish our homes; sometimes it's hard not to be overwhelmed. Exercised by questions of color, style and whether or not it will complement the existing decor all take up time, brain space and energy. And that's before the environmental credentials of a piece of furniture have even been assessed!
Increasingly, the question of furniture’s provenance is the first one that consumers ask. As concern for the environment and an awareness of green issues grows, people want to know that the furniture they enjoy using every day doesn't have any dirty environmental secrets.
Those who buy furniture that carries the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) label can feel confident that the wood used to make their purchase is responsibly sourced from sustainable origins. The FSC is an international, non-profit organization set up to ensure adherence to best environmental practices in timber sourcing, tracing its journey from the forest, through processing and manufacturing right through to the showroom.
To earn FSC certification, landowners and timber producers have to satisfy rigorous conditions and prove that the forestry methods they practice do not impact negatively on the environment. FSC certification is also dependent on timber suppliers acting in socially responsible ways that address local economic accountability issues. Extensive over-logging of forests results in environmental damage as well as depriving local communities of incomes, thus forcing already struggling economies into a downward spiral of decline. Do we really want all that guilt laid on us when furniture buying?
Avoid such wrestling with the conscience when on a retail trip by simply opting for FSC certified furniture. That way you can feel confident the new dining table, for example, has been created using wood from a sustainable and ethically bulletproof source that won't leave a bitter taste in your mouth every time it's used.
As we become more and more concerned about global environmental health, the everyday choices we make change. These days we use environmentally friendly products each day without really thinking about it – low energy light bulbs, eco-friendly detergents and toiletries – now it's just as straightforward to find furniture that's earth-friendly. Look out for the FSC label on sofas, tables, shelving units, anything made from wood products should sport the label – and if it doesn't? Just move on.
The more aware larger furniture stores have woken up to the fact that consumer decisions are based upon an evolving set of criteria that value eco-credentials highly. To this end, a stroll around large furniture showrooms reveals a huge amount of attractive, well designed furniture bearing the FSC stamp of approval – and this can only be a good thing.
Furnishing a home can be expensive and there may be times when the cheaper option might be something created within a less responsible environmental and commercial structure. Before paying out for uncertified wood products, be reminded of the damage done by over-logging, unregulated use of hazardous pesticides and the exploitation of the land of indigenous peoples – is it really worth saving a few dollars for that? By opting for FSC certified furniture, we can have fun improving our domestic habitat without damaging the natural one... surely that has to be a good thing?