Eco Friendly or Not?

I just came across this and felt the need to post it (source). I think most people are pretty clued up nowadays about Certification but it’s always good to know that you are buying things that are environmentally sound especially nowadays when so much harm is done to our planet.

However I would like to just add my tuppence worth as a woodcrafter and a small independent business. Please read the following quote and I will continue after it.

“If you want to buy tables, chairs and couches from an environmental and socially responsible timber industry, you should look for a trustworthy proof of origin. Most manufacturers make their goods with promising certificates, but you should only go for the internationally valid seal FSC. Many dealers promote with fancy labels and convincingly-sounding certificates – but in reality the customer is misled.
The proof of origin is often self-made and offers no guarantee for an environmentally friendly and socially responsible product. The FSC label is the only ecological wooden certificate meeting the basic requirements of environmental associations and consumer associations.
FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council and it is an independent organization of environmentalists, business representatives and social organizations.     The members have to define the minimum criteria for sustainable forest management and are acting worldwide. The FSC label is currently the only certificate to offer the possibility worldwide to observe the complete processing of the tree from the forest to the garden chair in the store.

Ask the seller for the exact origin of their wood products! If the company isn´t able to tell where the wood comes from: stay away! Ask for products from native hardwoods and prefer native timbers particularly if they are accompanied by the certificate of Naturland or FSC.”

This is the official logo for the FSC.

Official FSC Logo

Ok it states above  “Many dealers promote with fancy labels and convincingly-sounding certificates – but in reality the customer is misled. The proof of origin is often self-made and offers no guarantee for an environmentally friendly and socially responsible product.” From My point of view this only has a modicum of truth. Small woodcrafting businesses like mine tend to source timber locally and in many cases actually recycle wood so how can I prove otherwise? According to the above statement I can’t and therefore should be avoided. So are the Forest Stewardship Council saying that if I see a wind felled tree and ask permission of the land owner to harvest some of it that it is not a valid eco-friendly bit of timber?  Or what about when I recycle something into a new product, should I be certifying it as FSC aswell?

They also state “Ask the seller for the exact origin of their wood products! If the company isn´t able to tell where the wood comes from: stay away! Ask for products from native hardwoods and prefer native timbers particularly if they are accompanied by the certificate of Naturland or FSC.” I can probably tell people where 90% of the wood I use is sourced from but I can’t provide a certificate. I do take great care in finding out the providence of the wood so I can in fact pass this information on to potential customers. The other 10%, well that’s the really funny part about this. When I do buy timber I usually buy FSC labeled timber from timber merchants but as far as I am concerned if asked about it I would have to say I bought it locally from a timber supplier and can only say that it was FSC certified.

I think if when looking at buying eco-friendly products that a certificate is a good thing to look out for but in reality you do have to have a certain amount of trust in the person making the product. Small self-employed crafts people I would say could tell you a lot more about their products than a salesperson in a showroom selling bought in products. I can hand on heart say that as I spent 20 years in sales 10 of which was furniture sales.

Well that’s just my thoughts I would love to hear what anyone else has to say about this.

Drew

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3 Responses to Eco Friendly or Not?

  1. Sew Braw says:

    One wee thing springs to my mind when reading this – it doesn’t mention recycling. If I come across a piece of 1950’s teak furniture that I don’t have a clue where the wood came from (and most likely wasn’t eco sourced back then, please correct me if I am wrong) I should not recycle it if I want to be able to sell it on as according to that article I can’t prove the source? Let’s face it there is decades old wood out there and in my opinion it’s better to recycle it than cause another tree to be chopped down by buying new, be it FSC certified or not.

    Again how do you prove this is recycled timber? You can’t. Anyone could ship in the worlds most endangered wood and say it was a recycled 1950’s cabinet that was heading for landfill. There has to be a certain amount of trust involved when purchasing wooden products which is where I feel you are on the right tracks Drew as you provide a face to your business and those who follow you on here and on facebook have a good idea of where you get your materials. 🙂

  2. Drew, I have just come across your post and couldn’t agree more. Certifications has its place, we have CoC certification for FSC & PEFC, but you are correct, I think many of us in the industry would agree that we have been responsible over the years and we do know where our supply originates from. In some ways perhaps there is a ‘Political Correctness’ about certification rather than a practical one. Specifiers are insisting on certified timber without really knowing what the schemes are about or how they work. We are regularly asked for a particular species for a project that need to be FSC, which just is not available. There is this perception in some avenues that all timber is or should be certified and anything else just won’t do. Clearly we know different.
    Dave West.

    • I agree as a small independent business I source as much timber as I can locally from land owners who have storm damaged trees or tree surgeons that would normally split the timber into logs and mulch a lot of the branch wood. I also look in skips and use reclamation yards. In doing this I have acquired a 1970’s teak fire surround (damaged) but the timber was reusable. I do think that we do know a lot more about being Eco friendly than some of the larger manufacturers. It also annoys me that FSC certified timber is actually cut down for the sole purpose of profit even though it is from managed and sustainable sources.

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