Fast furniture has become similarly popular to fast fashion over recent decades, with commercial giants like Ikea leading the way. This cheap, easy-to-move and easy-to-toss furniture is leading to increased logging in all parts of the world. And not all logging is done ethically or even legally. While much of the public focus is often on Brazil and the Amazon, Europe’s logging activity has also increased dramatically in the last decades.
Many of the countries of Eastern Europe have thriving logging industries, and Romania is one of them that still has remaining old-growth forests. This is because they were protected from commercial interests for many years by communism until 1989 when privatization began. The competing commercial interests are doing everything they can to extract all value from whatever forests they can, and layering themselves in plausible deniability through subcontractors. The subcontractors just want to fill their orders and sometimes cut corners to meet the demands of large corporations.
While there is an organization that audits forestry companies according to their sustainability standards, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), they are a small international NGO that uses independent auditors to rubber-stamp approvals for logging operations. If one auditor won’t pass a logging operation, someone else will. It isn’t hard to pass the pre-scheduled logging reviews, and even if an operation shouldn’t be passed, there can also be threats of bodily harm. Last year activists were attacked while filming a documentary about illegal logging, ending up in the hospital for bringing attention to this subject.
In order to reduce illegal logging, we have to hold large companies responsible for their supply chain and put more effort into regulating their activities. When you need furniture, buy quality pieces with multiple functions that you intend to keep for years. Buy pieces that can be repaired or buy them used. And use your furniture as long as you can or sell it to someone else who will care for it. In this fast world, we should strive to waste as little of anything as possible by slowing down and thinking through the true cost of everything we buy.