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Ethical Home – Furniture

According to WWF, the UK is estimated to be one of the top three importers of illegal timber and wood products in the EU. The EU accounts for 35% of the world’s primary timber consumption. Alarmingly, this means that much of the furniture in our own homes could be made from illegally logged tropical timber. The easy way to avoid buying furniture with such origins is to look out for products that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Rainforest Timber

The vast majority of deforestation and illegal logging takes place in the tropical forests of the Amazon basin, Central Africa and Southeast Asia. Illegally logged wood undermines economies in some of the world’s poorest countries, endangers species and results not only in widespread rainforest destruction but also in the brutal oppression of indigenous peoples, whose land and livelihood are seized with impunity by criminal gangs and international companies. Living forests are also vital for reducing carbon in the atmosphere, but deforestation accounts for an estimated 17 per cent of global carbon emissions – around 1.5 times greater than those from all the world’s air, road, rail and shipping traffic combined. Reducing deforestation, and especially illegal logging, is therefore the fastest, most effective and least controversial means to reduce global emissions of climate gases.

Legal and Sustainable Sources

In March 2013 the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) came into force, requiring importers or sellers of timber and wood products to keep records of the sources of their supplies. The legislation affects all those that first place timber on the EU market as well as traders further down the supply chain. Under the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), wood carrying a FLEGT license, or a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) permit, is considered to comply with the EUTR. The new legislation has been welcomed by environmentalist, although some point out that although a wood product may be legal under the scheme, it does not mean it is sustainable. The best guarantee to ensure good forest management is to buy wood products carrying an FSC or PEFC logo. The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC (The Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification) ensure that forests are managed in a way that benefits both the environment and the people who live and work there.

In our latest research, the major retailers receiving a top rating for their Timber Sourcing Policies are B&Q, IKEA and Marks & Spencer – all of which have made a strong commitment to sourcing their wood from sustainable sources with 50% or more of their timber products certified by FSC, PEFC or recycled.  There are a number of independent ethical furniture suppliers to choose from online, including Myakka ( – which has gained independent Ethical Accreditation from The Ethical Company Organisation and specialises in fair-trade furniture.  Myakka’s wood is sourced from government managed, sustainable plantations in India and Thailand. Also worth checking out is Warren Evans (‍‍‍), which specialises in UK-made FSC bed frames and organic mattresses.


Recycled or refurbished

There is also the option of buying second-hand or recycled furniture. You can buy refurbished furniture from Emmaus ( and support a good cause at the same time. Emmaus, which has shops in England and Scotland, is a charity that offers homeless men and women a place to live and an opportunity to work full-time, refurbishing donated furniture. For similar projects across the UK, go to Furniture Re-use Network ( There are plenty of options for buying recycled or reclaimed furniture too from companies like Eat, Sleep, Live (, Trunk Reclaimed ( and Re-Form Furniture ( – all offer reclaimed or recycled furniture available to order online.

Key Research

Below you will find links to the key sections of our ethical research in Home & Office:

We have created ethical comparison rankings for the following brands, based on the activities of the company group (see above tables): Myakka, Homebase, Argos, B&Q, Habitat, Laura Ashley, Benson’s for BedsDFS, Harvey’s, John Lewis, MFI, Furniture Village, House of Fraser, Marks and Spencer, BHS, Heal’s, IKEA.

Disclosure:  Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning we earn commission if you click through and make a purchase. Placement and use of these links has no bearing in terms of the ethical scores that we give to a brand.  All commission earned by The Good Shopping Guide is re-invested into the research carried out by The Ethical Company Organisation.

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