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How You Can Protect Forests and Wildlife From the Comfort of Your Couch

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How You Can Protect Forests and Wildlife From the Comfort of Your Couch
Alex Rio Brazil / Wikimedia Commons

By Alyson Merlin

The scale of global conservation can seem daunting, and it is hard to incorporate the fight against global deforestation into our daily routines. If you want to help, but don't have the stored-up vacation days to participate in on-the-ground activism, the National Wildlife Federation has good news for you! The places where you rest your feet after work or school—from fancy sectionals to self-assembled futons—are actually key to saving the world's forests!


The furnishings industry (which includes indoor furniture and decorations) is the third greatest user of wood in the U.S. after the construction and paper industries. So, where do manufacturers (and later, retailers) get this wood? Do your favorite companies proudly display on their websites that their products come from certified forests, such as those that the Forest Stewardship Council have vetted for responsible management? Or is the sourcing information of major furniture retailers hard to find? We believe you have a right to know. That's why National Wildlife Federation and the Sustainable Furnishings Council have partnered to bring you our Furniture Scorecard.

How We Did It

We scored 57 major furniture retail companies on the existence, availability and quality of their wood sourcing policies, as well as for visibly selling products made from recycled or reclaimed wood. Then we got to work, reaching out to give every firm the opportunity to dispute or confirm their scoring. Now, we're giving that information to you. On this site, you can browse our collected data, check up on your favorite brands and weigh the environmental cost of that new coffee table you've been eyeing online.

Why Should You Care?

Deforestation and forest degradation are devastating our planet. Currently 13 million hectares of tropical forest are cut down each year– that's an area the size of England– and these forests are home to some of the world's most endangered species. At current rates, habitat loss will drive many species of tigers, elephants, orangutans and numerous other plants and animals to extinction. Not to mention, deforestation accounts for about 12 percent of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity; protecting forests is essential to halting and moderating the effects of Global Climate Change.

This destruction is more than just statistics. Take for example, the orangutan. All three species of orangutan (Pongo abelii, Pongo pygmaeus and Pongo tapanuliensis) are known for their intelligence and advanced maternal care, and all three are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature RedList. The biggest threat to their existence is habitat loss due to deforestation and forest fragmentation. It is estimated that 61.5 percent of Bornean Orangutan habitat will be lost by 2025. Unless current trends of global deforestation are reversed, these amazing apes will disappear forever.

How to Help From Home

National Wildlife Federation wants to show companies that we, as consumers, care about where our products come from and how they affect wildlife! Start by taking a look at the Furniture Scorecard and then make an informed decision about where you purchase your next loveseat. And sign a pledge to help us demonstrate to brands and retailers that consumers want products that are not associated with habitat destruction. With your pledge, we can all help make a positive change in the market to save forests and wildlife!

Project goal: To create an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to leather, in this case using fungi.

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