Over the past few decades, the organic food movement has made us ask questions about the origin of our food. Now the fundamental concerns voiced in that movement are being extrapolated to the furniture and flooring industries. People want to know where their furniture comes from and what they're finding out is often more disturbing than the facts that were uncovered regarding the origins of our food.
Up to 90% of the wood furniture and flooring sold in the USA and Europe is imported from overseas. That amounts to almost 2 billion cubic feet of timber that is illegally harvested (read: clear-cut) every year. Incredibly a forested area three times the size of Vermont is being destroyed annually! Illegal logging is most grievous to third world countries such as Brazil, Cameroon, Gabon, Liberia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia and Vietnam where large tracts of rainforest are plundered by huge foreign timber conglomerates. The wood is used for cheap furniture and flooring which is processed and assembled in Asia. Sometimes the furniture is then stained or finished in the USA in order to be labeled "Made in America."
Why should US wood furniture buyers care about rainforest destruction that happens so far away from our homes? In addition to robbing our planet of oxygen generating trees and endangered wildlife habitats, rainforest destruction takes away forest resources that directly contribute to the livelihoods of over a billion people in the developing world that live in extreme poverty. What will become of these people once the rainforest is gone?
While supporting groups like the World Wildlife Fund who are working to protect the rainforest and it's inhabitants, American consumers are looking for alternatives to bringing unsustainable furniture and "bad karma" into their homes. Buyers are eager to find furniture that originates in the USA from American-grown wood which has been harvested sustainably in well-managed North American forests. As with the organic food constituency, the movement towards "buying local" and buying organic wood furniture is gaining steam.
Consumers can learn more about eco-friendly organic furniture and where to purchase it from the Sustainable Furniture Council, SFC.