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Opt for a chair made of FSC-certified wood

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Using strict management procedures, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) ensures wood taken from its forests is sustainably harvested. Buying an FSC-certified wood chair reduces your impact on the world’s wild spaces.

How to purchase a chair made of FSC-certified wood

Historically, the selection of available FSC-certified furniture has be limited, but recently more options have been cropping up across the country. Finding a reliable supplier producing pieces that fit your taste still requires some work, but your eco-conscience will be rewarded for the effort.

  1. Certified listings: Start by checking the Forest Certification Resource Center, which has a searchable database of suppliers and companies that are currently making and selling certified wood furniture. Look for those companies that use only FSC-certified wood.
  2. Sustainable portals: For links to additional companies that offer FSC-certified furniture and other wood products, visit Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities Partnership. Also check out Forest Certification Resource Center: a nonprofit voluntary initiative committed to promoting responsible forest products. The website includes a searchable database of companies who manufacture and sell FSC-certified products, as well as a handy table that compares various auditors and creditors.
  3. Logo location: When browsing in a store, be sure to look for the FSC logo on wood products. Most items made with FSC-certified wood have on-product FSC labels. However some companies aren't consistent about applying them.
  4. Proof of purchase: If a company claims that a product is FSC-certified, but it doesn't bear the logo, ask to see the supplier's FSC certificate and/or product tracking information, including invoices or receipts (which should indicate FSC certification).

Find it! FSC-certified wood chair makers

Take a look at the selection of beautifully crafted FSC-certified chairs below. Beware, though: furniture makers that use FSC-certified wood don’t necessarily employ that material in all of their pieces—you may need to check each piece to verify that it's been made from sustainably harvested wood.

Buying a chair made from FSC-certified wood helps you go green because…

  • It ensures your chair’s wood was taken sustainably from well-managed forests, which in turn means soil, waterways, and wildlife were also preserved.

As a main ingredient in chair construction, wood is an important issue when considering the eco-friendliness of a new chair purchase. Worldwide forest ecosystems are critical to maintaining life on Earth. They filter the air, stabilize climate by absorbing CO2, and provide habitat for 90 percent of all land-dwelling plants and animals.[1]

As demand for wood and other forestry products has grown, many groups have worked to develop a management system that promotes responsible forest practices to protect trees, soil, waterways, and wildlife, while maximizing the quality and quantity of timber.[2] Forest certification alerts consumers to wood products that come from properly managed forests.[1]

Forest Stewardship Council

There are several organizations certifying lumber, but according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), only one is preferred by green experts worldwide—the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).[1] FSC is an international nonprofit organization that was formed in 1993. It accredits certifiers, who in turn use auditors to inspect timber operations (only those that voluntarily request FSC certification) to guarantee that trees are sustainably harvested using forestry practices that maintain the diversity of native species, prevent over-cutting, protect watersheds and ensure long-term forest management.[3]

FSC's program is endorsed by most national and international environmental NGOs; unions; social groups; indigenous peoples; timber industries; private, communal, and state forest owners; and scientists from over 60 countries,[4] including such organizations as the World Wildlife Fund, the Wilderness Society, the NRDC, the Rainforest Alliance, and the World Resources Institute.[5]

FSC has six strict principles for monitoring every stage of production, distribution, and sale of wood products, and works with wholesalers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.[6] These principles cover environmental, social, and economic criteria,[5] such as harvest rates and clearing sizes; natural forest conditions; rare, threatened, and endangered species; adequate conservation zones; chemical use (minimized); protection of streams and lakes; and the health of workers, communities, and indigenous peoples.[1] Only those operations that meet the criteria are allowed to display the FSC label.[3]

In the last few years, the top three wood buyers in the world—Home Depot, Lowe’s, and IKEA—all committed to work with FSC to reduce their consumption of non-sustainable wood products.[7]

Controversies

Buying wood with some type of environmental certification can help ensure it was harvested sustainably, however not all certifying bodies are equal. FSC is the only international accrediting body which guarantees that wood has been sustainably harvested. There are several other labels used to certify wood which are not nearly as rigorous.[8] For instance, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) (developed by the American Forest & Paper Association, an industry trade group) was found to have significant shortcomings when compared to FSC.[9]

The anti-SFI coalition (including such groups as ForestEthics, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and the NRDC) has charged SFI with failing to effectively protect forests (especially old growth stands) by permitting members to indiscriminately log diverse forests and replace them with a single species, ignoring crucial social issues,[10] and delivering no credible assurances to the consumer.[11]

Glossary

  • old growth forest: Also known as virgin forest, ancient forest, or primary forest, this is an area of forest which has attained great age, containing a variety of vertical layers of vegetation, including large live trees. These forests may also be home to many rare species that are dependent on these ecologically unique old growth features.

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