What does it mean when a product is referred to or labeled as FSC Certified? The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), is a non-profit organization that sets certain high standards to make sure that forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible and socially beneficial manner. If a product, like a piece of tropical hardwood patio furniture, is labeled as "FSC Certified," it means that the wood used in the piece and the manufacturer that made it met the requirements of the Forest Stewardship Council.
The FSC certification is considered the "gold standard" designation for wood harvested from forests that are responsibly managed, socially beneficial, environmentally conscious and economically viable.
Why You Should Consider FSC-Certified Furniture
Consumers who want to go green on their patios should by buying sustainable garden furniture. The United States is the world’s largest importer of tropical wooden furniture from timber-producing countries. Of those imports, garden furniture represents approximately one-fifth of the wooden furniture market. U.S. imports of all tropical wood products have increased over the past couple of decades. Formerly rich forests of countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brazil, are being depleted at an unprecedented rate.
A major cause of deforestation is the legal and illegal logging of remaining primary forests to meet the growing need for tropical wood products.
At current rates of deforestation, the remaining biodiversity-rich natural forests in South American, Asian, and African countries could disappear within a decade.
Stacy Brown, the forest certification coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), recommends that consumers look for and request products with a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo, which means the wood is traceable to a sustainably managed forest.
“Buying FSC-certified garden furniture helps support sustainable forest management, which reduces the emission of greenhouse gases and protects wildlife habitat,” Brown says. “Similar to the rapid expansion in the organic food market which led to dramatic shifts in the agriculture industry, we can help change the forest products industry by voicing our preferences through our pocketbooks.”
“We want consumers to know they can make a huge difference in the fate of the world’s forests by acting with their wallets. If buyers don’t ask for FSC-certified products, retailers won’t supply them,” Brown says. “We want retailers to know that people are paying attention to which companies make it easiest to find sustainable products. Vague public relations assurances—now found on many wood and paper products—are not enough, and in many cases amount to ‘greenwashing.’”
Understanding FSC Labels
Look for products that carry the FSC certification, and ideally are made from FSC woods—like eucalyptus—harvested in the local economy where the furniture was made.
While the FSC makes a somewhat complicated process and the chains of supply easier to understand for consumers, it helps to know just what the three labels on most products mean:
- FSC 100%: Products come from FSC-certified forests.
- FSC Recycled: The wood or paper in a product comes from reclaimed material.
- FSC Mixed: A mix means at least 70 percent of the wood in a product comes from FSC-certified or recycled material; while 30 percent is made of controlled wood.
Also Known As: Forest Stewardship Council; eco; environmental, green.