When looking for durable wood furniture, it’s fair to say that it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. We reviewed the wood policies of some major furniture retailers and analyzed key information to determine which of them takes their wood sourcing seriously.
Deforestation threatens ecosystems, biodiversity and contributes to climate change – the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) states that 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions result from deforestation and forest degradation.
The drivers of deforestation are multiple. Lumber for wood and paper products is only the fourth largest. It comes after the production of beef, soy and palm oil.
But it’s still a big contributor – although when done right, it’s possible to harvest timber sustainably and responsibly. If you are buying wooden furniture, be sure to look for good quality materials.
It starts with retailers. We did some research and found a real range of behaviors. Some retailers tell their customers nothing about their policies or their wood sourcing, while others post detailed policies explaining how they are likely to assess their wood supply chain and use certified sustainable wood.
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How Furniture Stores Compare on Sustainable Wood
We rated four brands as “good” in our review: B&Q, Howdens, Ikea and Magnet.
All four had transparent and thorough wood sourcing statements and policies on their websites as well as commitments to high percentages of certified wood.
The most commonly recognized certification systems are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Program for the recognition of forest certifications).
To learn more about the meaning of these labels, go to our guide: how to buy sustainable furniture.
The majority of the brands we reviewed received a “fair” rating, including Dunelm, John Lewis and Very.co.uk.
It was often because they fell on one or more of our measures. They may use a lower percentage of certified wood, be less transparent about their sourcing, or omit important elements of their wood policies, such as their approach to using hardwoods. tropical.
As you can see in the table below, brands that received our “poor” rating generally do not have a wood policy on their websites or wood sourcing statements. Many of them have not provided us with their percentages of certified wood.
Five brands we contacted didn’t respond to us at all, and we couldn’t find any information about their wood supply online. These were: B&M, Dreams, Sharps, The Range and Wayfair.
Check your furniture brand: the What? verdict
|Retailer||Certified wood / future goals / recycled wood||Our opinion|
|B&Q||77% FSC 15% PEFC / 100% certified by 2025 / currently 6%||Good|
|Howden1||83% FSC 6% PEFC / 100% certified by 2025 / approximately 35% recycled chipboard||Good|
|Ikea||98% FSC or recycled / Target already achieved / currently 12% – target is one third by 2030||Good|
|Magnet||84.5% FSC 15% PEFC / 99% certified by 2025 / around 37%||Good|
|Argos||34% FSC, PEFC and recycled / 100% certified by 2025 / no current target||Fair|
|Barker and Stonehouse||84.7 FSC 2.2% PEFC / 100% certified by 2025 / currently 20%||Fair|
|Benchmarx||85% FSC 15% PEFC/ Target already achieved / around 50% own brand in recycled wood||Fair|
|DFS (including Dwell and Sofology)||around 33% FSC / 100% FSC by 2025 / no current target||Fair|
|dunelm||c.9 FSC c.1% PEFC / target 50% by 2025*||Fair|
|furniture village||vs. 60% FSC / no current target / no current target||Fair|
|Hammond||98% FSC 1.5% PEFC / 100% FSC by 2025 / no current target||Fair|
|home base||90% FSC or PEDC / Targets under review / no current target||Fair|
|john lewis||Currently unable to report / target 100% by 2025* / no current target||Fair|
|Marks and Spencer||34% FSC / no current target / no current target||Fair|
|following||38% (36% FSC) / target 100% by 2025* / no current target||Fair|
|Oak furniture2||20% FSC / no current target / no current target*||Fair|
|ScS||vs. 28% FSC (of revenue) / 100% certified by 2025 / no current target||Fair|
|Very.co.uk||7% FSC / 100% certified by 2025 / no current target||Fair|
|Wickes3||93.2% FSC 6.8% PEFC / Target already achieved / no current target||Fair|
|Wren Kitchens||100% FSC / Objective already achieved / not communicated||Fair|
|Bensons for beds||Undisclosed / no current target / no current target||Poor|
|Costco||Undisclosed / no current target / no current target||Poor|
|Made||Undisclosed / target of 100% by 2025* / no current target||Poor|
|Robert Dyas4||>50% FSC / 100% FSC by 2025 / undisclosed||Poor|
Notes on the table
*These retailers’ targets include non-certified wood that is determined to be low risk based on their risk assessments. For example, John Lewis includes in its focus the potential for timber from countries with a low risk of illegal or unsustainable timber. This is often referred to as “responsibly sourced” wood.
1Howdens only targets its kitchen fronts. Its particleboard and MDF are already 100% certified or recycled.
2Oak Furnitureland claims to have 100% traceability of its hardwood supply chain and can guarantee responsible sourcing for every shipment.
3Wickes recently parted ways with Travis Perkins and is currently reviewing its lumber policy and goals, as is Bensons for Beds, following its separation from Harveys.
4Robert Dyas is also reviewing his policies.
Our Retailer Rating
To arrive at our ratings, we evaluated a number of wood policies from leading furniture and DIY retailers on a comparable set of criteria. Similar assessments have been conducted in the past by the World Wildlife Foundation and Ethical Consumer.
Our criteria included: whether a retailer’s policy includes products outside the scope of the UK Timber Regulation (UKTR) or its European equivalent; how much of its wood is currently certified (either FSC or PEFC); whether it has goals to achieve a high percentage of certified wood in the future; what it does to ensure compliance and monitoring of its policy; and transparency of information on its website(s).
The table above provides an overview of our verdict, based on this analysis.
Good retailers had detailed policies, a high percentage of certified wood, and easy-to-find information on their websites. A poor retailer had little or no information available and a low percentage of certified wood (if numbers were even available).
How to buy furniture more sustainably
Ask your retailer questions such as where the wood comes from, if it’s certified, and what species it is. Retailers will have this information but cannot provide it without being asked. Check the retailers’ statements and wood sourcing policies on their websites or ask to see them.
For more advice on sustainable and responsible wood, including details on what FSC certification entails, see our guide on how to buy sustainable furniture.
Of course, the most sustainable option is to steer clear of new products altogether. There’s a booming market for second-hand furniture, and by buying and selling your second-hand household items, you’ll be supporting a circular economy, giving new life to products that already exist, saving them from landfill. and reducing the demand for virgin products. wood. Charity shops and online marketplaces are good places to start your search.
We’ve also rated furniture stores based on their customer reviews, so you can know where you’ll find good quality products, good customer service, and a smooth experience. For more, check out our guide to the best and worst furniture and homeware stores.
Or find all our tips for eco-responsible shopping in our latest tips for sustainable living.