Learn how you can help the environment and economy by purchasing American Made Furniture this Holiday Season.
It’s hard to believe that not just 40 years ago when you bought wood furniture, or any product for that matter, it was most likely made right here in America by a skilled craftsman. The crew at the workshop or factory was most likely paid a fair and livable wage and the price of the product reflected that. We took pride in American Made Furniture.
Fast forward to 2016.
Almost all products, wood and other, are imported from overseas, mainly China. Recently, a law was passed again allowing for beef and other meats to be imported from China and other countries.
photo via unsplash
But I digress.
You may think that furniture from IKEA, Pottery Barn and Wayfair are a good deal, but what are you really buying? It’s actually much worse for us in the end, because of the devastating impact illegally logged wood has on our environment.
Imported wood is often cheap because it’s made, as I said, from illegally harvested lumber and once cut, it’s transported to sweatshops in China, Indonesia and other Southeast Asian nations. There it will be milled and fashioned into cheap, low quality items often referred to as “curbside furniture”. The pieces will in turn be shipped to the US, Europe and China to satisfy increasing consumer demand for cheap furniture.
photo via unsplash
Don’t get me wrong. I have furniture from IKEA and other stores that surely use imported wood. In today’s economy, fine American made or sustainably made furniture can be out of most people’s budget. But, if you save, and make a promise to buy at least one thing this holiday season that is American made, you can make a significant impact.
You may know by this point that as a result of shipping manufacturing jobs overseas the U.S. furniture industry has disintegrated, while other countries, for example, Vietnam has seen a ten-fold increase in their furniture industry since 2000. China? Their stats are even more impressive, but when do we draw the line for our own economy and the environment?
Forests not only in Brazil but Russia and Southeast Asia are still being robbed of their timber at alarming rates. That affects our atmosphere with the release of intense levels of CO2 and affects our Earth’s eco-system by destroying the habitat of tigers, elephants, leopards, amphibians, reptiles, birds, insects and plants that help with our environment’s homeostasis.
It is currently estimated that 20% of the world’s annual carbon emissions comes from illegal tropical rainforest destruction.
You can be a part of the solution. When you shop for new furniture, stay away from cheap imported furniture in stores like West Elm, Target, Sears, etc. When you go to a store and you’re not sure of the wood’s origin, ask the sales clerk, they should be able to get you that information. If it’s not available, chances are it’s been imported.
The ultimate responsibility for rainforest destruction rests primarily with us, the consumers in the U.S., Japan, Germany, France and China. The U.S. is the worst offender: in 2007 we imported 930 million dollars worth of Vietnamese furniture, well over a third of Vietnam's total furniture exports.
Aside from being more conscious of where your furniture is coming from, there are other ways to get involved. Petition your local and state elected officials to adopt state and national laws to prohibit illegally harvested wood from entering our markets.
By purchasing sustainable furniture, you’ll be doing your part for the environment while beautifying your home!