How to be eco-friendly with wood at home

More and more households are concerned about choosing environmentally-friendly and sustainable furniture and indoor decor.  The days in the 1960s where plastic was a popular and widely used material in the manufacturing of furniture are long gone. The home furnishing trends in the UK has evolved dramatically in the past half a century, gradually replacing plastic with sleek plywood furniture, pinewood furniture, and sustainable rustic-looking wood items

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However, the rise in sustainable interests and environmentally-friendly decor is forcing homeowners to question their design choices.  Is using wood as part of your interior the best decision you can make for the environment?  New-comers to the environmental debate might be worried about depleting forests, but they may be reluctant to rely on heavily processed and manufactured materials.  If you are unsure how to use wood sustainably and safely at home, this brief article should answer your most burning questions (no pun intended). 

Using natural material is better for your health

Unlike plastic, the favourite furniture material of the 1960s, wood is a natural material. As such, its production dramatically reduces your household C02 emission.  Creating a green decor implies using naturally available materials.  Wood-made furniture that uses real wood is sustainable and low in carbon dioxide emissions.  Wood also improves your indoor air quality.  Synthetic fabrics and materials can release toxic particles in the air. You have probably heard of formaldehyde health risk, a chemical found in some paints and composite wood products such as plywood. Real wood presents fewer health hazards. 

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But sometimes, wood is a source of risk

Does it mean that wood is always the best solution for your interior?  It depends entirely on its purpose.  Wood is not environmentally-friendly when you intend to use it as fuel for heating.  Indeed, in 2020, an open fire is not an energy-efficient strategy to keep your home warm in winter.  On the contrary, closed appliances, such as wood-burning stoves, can produce more heat for longer.  Unfortunately, wood fuel, while described as carbon neutral, encourages high emission of CO2 through forestry practices and transport. Ideally, if you want a safe and energy-efficient wood-like burner for your home, inset electric fires have become a better choice.  It’s worth mentioning that electric fires also require less maintenance and are a significantly less potent fire hazard. 

solid oak coffee table

What is the right approach to wood?

It can be tricky to decide whether you should or should not use wood in your interior when you want to build an eco-friendly and safe home. As a rule of thumb, open fires and wood-burning appliances may not be suitable anymore for the modern household. However, wood remains the preferred environmentally-friendly material for furnishing. Indeed, over 90% of the wood we use in the UK comes from forests that are constantly replacing cut trees, according to the British Woodworking Federation.  In other words, wood is both a renewable resource, but it is also always in the process of being renewed. Older furniture can be upcycled, repurposed, or fixed, rather than discarded, which prolongs its life.   You may also consider reclaimed wood furniture.  See my shop for some great examples

Conclusion

In conclusion, it can be difficult in our society of fast media and information to figure out the best approach to building a sustainable interior.  You need to establish a baseline for wood safety and wood sustainability at home.  The bottom line: Real wood, when treated with eco-friendly and safe chemicals, has a place in all green homes.  However, wood as an energy supply for heating is not suitable to most modern households for health and safety and efficiency reasons. 

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