In the big debates about fossil fuels, fracking, wind power and nuclear power it easy to forget the collective significance of the smaller decisions such as the environmental impact of furniture selection. Read more to find out how you can make better informed decisions about the environment by choosing ‘green’ furniture.
The priority given to sustainability differs from person to person. Some people obsess over carbon footprints and others take little heed. One way that green conscious consumers can make a difference in their impact on the planet and its health, is by making environmentally savvy decisions when furnishing a space – be it the home or office.
Most furniture in the UK is made from timber sourced from European forests. These forests range from the Mediterranean evergreen macchia, through mountain and boreal forests of pine and spruce, to multi-species deciduous oak and riparian forests and their ecosystems host the majority of the Europe’s biodiversity.
Unsurprisingly there are many bodies, like Britain’s Forestry Stewardship Council FSC, dedicated to the promotion of responsible forest management worldwide and in fact since March 2013 EU legislation prevents illegally harvested timber and timber products being placed on the EU market. Such legislation is essential to ensure the forest resource is sustainable and FSC certified timber is now used extensively in the European furniture industry.
However despite this progress with certified timber, packing materials are less subject to environmental legislation. Nevertheless, box and wrapping materials made from 100% recycled paper are freely available and gradually becoming an industry norm. And even biodegradable plastic zip bags for components are now finding their way into the supply chain.
It is now possible to calculate the CO2 produced in the manufacture of the raw materials needed to make furniture. A 1220 x 2440 mm sheet of plywood for example produces 1.44kg of CO2 in its manufacture. When you factor in trucking and shipping costs to the UK factory. And when you add UK CNC machine time it works out in the case of Morfus that each plywood component has an average carbon footprint of 1kg CO2.
These calculations are of course difficult. How wide do you cast the CO2 net in order to determine the actual carbon footprint of a product? And then certain products can be disassembled and recycled at the end of their lives, and carry a Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certification. No doubt we will soon be told exactly how these calculations should work.
In the meantime and in recognition of their environmental impact many businesses like Morfus have decided to balance their carbon footprint against the planting of trees. This scheme contributes to the creation and protection of new native woodlands in the UK that will not only capture, over time, CO2 emissions, but will also provide significant other environmental and social benefit to the UK. These woodlands are certified to ISO standards under the UK government Woodland Carbon Code, and meet international environmental and carbon project rules.
Due to the technicalities of the Kyoto Protocol carbon capture projects hosted in the UK cannot use the term “offset”, and do not confer “carbon neutrality”. This is not a reflection on the quality of the projects – the Woodland Carbon Code meets ISO standards and was developed by the UK government – but is simply a reflection of international carbon rules and regulations.
What ways do you like to ensure your furniture is environmentally friendly? Do you have any key pieces that are made from sustainable materials? Show us your items and share your thoughts with us on social media!