Buying wood furniture while doing what's best for the environment and your home is tricky. There are a bunch of factors to balance: forest depletion, how the piece will affect your home's air quality, and price are just a few of them. We found a great article from National Geographic that outlines the basic principles for buying wood furniture responsibly...
National Geographic's Suggestions for Buying Eco-Friendly Wood Furniture:
Problem: Deforestation. At this point, almost half of the world's forests have been cut down. Deforestation releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming.
Problem: Poor forest management. When timber harvesting is placed above the needs of indigenous people and native species, it can cause serious problems for the area.
Problem: Air quality. Particleboard, plywood, and other pressed woods contain formaldehyde, a possible carcinogen, which can off-gas for years in your home.
Solution: Avoid pressed woods. Buy second-hand solid wood, or FSC-certified new wood pieces. Shop at antique stores, garage sales, and thrift stores for furniture made from solid wood. Avoid wood veneers over pressed plywood or particleboard.
Solution: Look for FSC-certified woods, which are researched and designated as socially and environmentally harvested by the non-profit Forest Stewardship Council.
Solution: Buy reclaimed and recycled wood products from manufacturers that reuse discarded furniture and lumber.
Solution: Avoid endangered woods and choose furniture made from "secondary species" which are less depleted. Secondary species include sweetgum, madrone, and California oak.
Solution: Buy lower grade woods. Many low-grade woods are rated below high-grade lumber simply because they show knots and streaks. Less timber is required to produce a low-grade wood product than a high-grade one.
Solution: Avoid products certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). This program is associated with the timber trade and does not hold the same credibility as the FSC certification.
Solution: Find out from the manufacturer where and how the wood was harvested. FSC-certified products can be found through the Forest Certification Resource Center. National Geographic also lists suggested retailers here.
To read the full National Geographic article, click here.