Sustainable wood is now so widely available and easy on the budget, it’s a crime not to use it in your home
There really is no excuse for not using timber from sustainable sources. Many of the big building suppliers including Jewson and Bradfords claim to supply sustainable timber, although some of them still carry uncertified stocks, too. B&Q has long had sustainable sourcing in place, and DIY stores Do It All and Homebase have similar policies.
The Centre for Alternative Technology recommends using plywood as opposed to MDF or chipboard, because less glue is used in the manufacture. However, some grades of plywood use tropical hardwoods, so where possible, try and use the poorer quality softwood ply or source board that is accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which is widely regarded as the best independent wood certification scheme.
For garden use, untreated woods are the most environmentally friendly option. Green, or unseasoned oak, is perfect for outdoor furniture as it will last, untouched, for upwards of 30 years. Sweet chestnut and Western Red cedar are similarly hardy – though the former is prone to splitting, and it’s difficult to buy small quantities of the latter. Less durable – but effective if not in constant contact with the ground and able to dry out from time to time – are Douglas fir and larch.
Sustainably managed forests mean that important carbon sinks are not being depleted.
You might have to pay a premium, though there is now so much competition that prices are slowly coming down. Some builders can still be a little awkward about this.
Forest Stewardship Council: www.fsc.org
Greenpeace Good Wood Guide: www.greenpeace.org.uk
The Centre for Alternative Technology: www.cat.org.uk