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All You Need to Know About Ethically Sourcing Wood

ethical wood

May 14, 2018 by Chris Chapman

Woodworking is a great way to get creative and relieve stress. Wood is a really satisfying material to work with – it’s soft enough that you can shape it with hand tools, yet hard enough that it can be used to build just about anything. It’s a hobby worth getting passionate about. This means that one major concern that every woodworker should share is making sure that they’re using ethically sourced wood.


Woodworking is a great way to relieve stress!

Illegal logging is one of the biggest threats that our planet has ever faced. It can be easy to forget about as most of it takes place on the other side of the world, but illegal logging harms wildlife and has a negative effect on the global economy, the world’s climate and even on the very air we breathe. As a woodworker, you don’t want your relaxing sessions in the shop to be ruined by these sorts of worries! To make sure your carpentry sessions aren’t impacting the planet, there are a few steps you can take to make sure the wood you’re using is ethically sourced and eco-friendly.

Find It Yourself

Worrying about whether your wood came from an illegally logged rainforest on the other side of the world is a sad reality for modern woodworkers. However, if you want to sidestep this problem, you can always head out and find some wood yourself! Public woodland and beaches are great places to find old unwanted wood and driftwood.  The wood you find may need a clean with some Simply Spray and Walk Away and some Pyrethrum to get rid of green mould and insects, but once that’s done it’s just as good as any other wood! Be wary of picking up cut logs though, as chances are they’ve been left there for a reason. And, of course, don’t just go chopping random trees down!

You can also get some reclaimed wood from local construction or demolition work. Simply ask the property owner who’s having the work done if they have any unwanted wood you can use. Usually, you’ll be doing them a favour by getting rid of it and they’ll let you take it for free. Make sure you always ask permission though!

Buy Reclaimed, Recycled, or Salvaged Wood

Reclaimed wood can also have a lot of character that you won’t find anywhere else!

If you don’t want to go out and find some old wood yourself, luckily there are still plenty of companies, organisations, and charities that will do it for you! Organisations like Community Wood Recycling let you search for your nearest reclaimed wood shop, where you can find some great-quality wood without having to worry about chopping down a tree. Reclaimed wood is wood that’s been used before, so recycling it for your own use won’t impact the environment whatsoever.

Salvaged wood is wood that hasn’t been used before, and it usually comes from trees that have been naturally knocked down or felled to keep a forest’s growth in check. Again, this wood is perfectly good to use for virtually any project and you’ll be cutting down on potential waste by making use of it.


It’s always a good idea to buy wood from a company that’s committed to reforestation. Reforestation means that a company plants at least one new tree for every tree they cut down. This is a great way of reducing the impact that logging has on the world and helps ensure there’ll always be wood we can use in the future. Make sure to ask about whether the company you’re buying from is engaged in a reforestation scheme.

Check It’s Certified

Certified wood has been checked to make sure it’s been ethically sourced and treated

There are a number of different organisations that can certify your wood – basically giving it the seal of approval that it’s responsibly and ethically sourced. The two main ones are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). In the UK, we also have the government-run Forestry Commission, however, they still use FSC standards. Seeing the FSC or PEFC logo when you buy your wood means you can buy with a clear conscience as it comes from well-managed forests that engage in responsible logging and reforestation.

While each one has slightly different standards, there’s a lot of common ground between the FSC and PEFC. You can generally be sure that FSC and PEFC forests:

  • Only log what they know will grow back
  • Won’t log ancient or endangered trees
  • Won’t damage biodiversity
  • Won’t use toxic or harmful chemicals on their trees

If you’re ever unsure about whether your wood is ethically sourced, check its certification. Generally speaking, the FSC has the strictest standards so will usually give you a better quality, more natural-looking wood.

Where Does It Come From?

Make sure you check not only where your wood comes from, but how it’s been treated before you buy it. Wood from countries such as China and Myanmar is often illegally logged and may have been treated with toxic chemicals before it arrived in the UK. It can be tricky to know where your wood has come from, especially if you’re buying from big high street chains, so doing a bit of research into finding the most transparent companies you can is always a good idea. Ask lots of questions – it might seem like a faff, but one day your children and grandchildren will thank you for doing your bit for the planet!

Plant Trees Yourself


Replanting a tree for every one that’s cut down helps reduce the impact of logging

If you want to really help out, you can always plant a few trees yourself! Growing a tree in your garden might not seem like it’ll do much for the planet on its own, but it sends a message and could encourage others to do the same, while also providing you with a nice gardening project that you can watch take shape over the years.


You can also donate to any number of tree-planting charities that operate in the UK, who work to plant trees in public places. This will help aid climate change and deforestation on a practical level, while also making the country a little nicer to look at for you and your family!

Forest Facts

  • Rainforests cover less than 7% of the world’s surface but contain around 50% of all living species on Earth.
  • More than 25% of all the medicines we use come from rainforest plants.

    pando the trembling giant

    Pando may look like many trees, but it’s all one organism

  • Forests produce 20% of all the Earth’s oxygen.
  • A tree colony in the USA is actually one single organism that covers 106 acres of land, all connected by a network of roots. The tree is known as Pando, the Trembling Giant, and is not only the largest living thing on Earth but also the oldest that we know of, at around 80,000 years old.
  • Rainforests maintain global rainfall and the climate of the entire planet by recycling water vapour.

Garden and Outdoors, Lifestyle

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