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Up To Two Thirds Of UK Furniture Retailers Could Be Damaging Forests

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Woodpile by Chris RubberDragon via flickr

A new report, published today by WWF-UK, has looked at business operations of 74 of the most prominent UK furniture retailers.

The report, entitled ‘Are you Sitting Comfortably? Sustainable Timber Sourcing and the UK Furniture Industry’, has found that two thirds of UK furniture retailers could be failing to have robust sustainable sourcing policies for the procurement of timber used for their furniture, and share no performance information to confirm it is sustainable.

Of the retailers assessed 68% have either no published policy or any other credible sourcing statement, suggesting that they do not see the need for responsible sourcing of timber, nor are willing to provide any information to support any customer interest in environmental matters. These retailers include some prominent brand names such as Laura Ashley and Oak Furnitureland.

However, 22% of the retailers are making good progress or show industry-leading performance. These include DIY chains such as B&Q, Wickes, and specialist retailers like Magnet, Warren Evans, and Office Depot. Others have achieved a rating of ‘progress’, indicating they are making good progress against strong policy commitments; including Argos, and Ikea.

Julia Young, Global Forest and Trade Network Manager for WWF-UK commented:

“UK furniture retailers could be unwittingly destroying forest resources due to their lack of clear commitments to sustainable sourcing of timber for their products. Some of the retailers who featured in our 2015 Timber Scorecard, have taken little or no action to get to grips with the sustainable forest trade agenda, despite having significant reliance on such actions to maintain supply of timber to their own businesses in the long term.

“Furniture retailers need to understand the nature of their trade better, and appreciate the role they can play in making sure it is a sustainable one for forests.

“As the Living Planet Report has recently highlighted, human activity has resulted in massive habitat loss and degradation. Without good sourcing procedures, forest loss and degradation will only get worse.

“Retailers can not only reduce these risks but also enhance their reputation by engaging with the issue and by publishing and pursuing a credible timber sourcing policy. WWF-UK will produce its next wider Timber Scorecard in 2017, and we hope these companies will make dramatic improvements ahead of this.”

The report notes that the greatest challenge relates to the importing of finished furniture from outside the EU, particularly where the products do not fall within the current scope of the EU Timber Regulation. The report identified €4.1 billion of UK imports of which 59% were from outside the EU. China provides 42% of all relevant UK furniture imports, followed by Italy (15%), Poland (10%), Vietnam (8%) and Germany (7%). However, the import partner is not necessarily the timber’s country of origin. For example, for Poland only 42% of the imported oak is from the EU while over half is from Ukraine with some from Bosnia and Russia.

Total furniture imports from ‘high risk’ countries – those with recognised illegal logging and trade issues – are valued at €1.9 billion (600,000 tonnes) and include China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brazil and Indonesia.

The report outlines key recommendations for all furniture retailers to follow to build up sustainable practices that will not only reduce their business risk, but enhance their reputation. These include:

o Publishing a responsible timber sourcing policy
o Providing supplier guidance notes or training to ensure that all supply chain participants are aware of requirements
o Get third-party verification such as FSC.
o Communicate policies to all stakeholders
o Seek support from suppliers, industry bodies, environmental groups and competitors to help source responsibly.

Environment

Extra-Mile Water Conservation Efforts Amidst Shortage

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water conserving

While some states are literally flooding due to heavy rains and run-off, others are struggling to get the moisture they need. States like Arizona and California have faced water emergencies for the last few years; water conserving efforts from citizens help keep them out of trouble.

If your area is experiencing a water shortage, there are a few things you can do to go the extra mile.

Repair and Maintain Appliances

Leaks around the house – think showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and more – lead to wasted water. Beyond that, the constant flow of water will cause water damage to your floors and walls. Have repairs done as soon as you spot any problems.

Sometimes, a leak won’t be evident until it gets bad. For that reason, make appointments to have your appliances inspected and maintained at least once per year. This will extend the life of each machine as well as nip water loss in the bud.

When your appliances are beyond repair, look into Energy Star rated replacements. They’re designed to use the least amount of water and energy possible, without compromising on effectiveness.

Only Run Dishwasher and Washer When Full

It might be easier to do a load of laundry a day rather than doing it once per week, but you’ll waste a lot more water this way. Save up your piles of clothes until you have enough to fully load the washing machine. You could also invest in a washing machine that senses the volume of water needed according to the volume of clothes.

The same thing goes with the dishwasher. Don’t push start until you’ve filled it to capacity. If you have to wash dishes, don’t run the water while you’re washing. Fill the sink or a small bowl a quarter of the way full and use this to wash your dishes.

Recycle Water in Your Yard

Growing a garden in your backyard is a great way to cut down on energy and water waste from food growers and manufacturers, but it will require a lot more water on your part. Gardens must be watered, and this often leads to waste.

You can reduce this waste by participating in water recycling. Using things like a rain barrel, pebble filtering system, and other tools, you can save thousands of gallons a year and still keep your landscaping and garden beautiful and healthy.

Landscape with Drought-Resistant Plants

Recycling water in your yard is a great way to reduce your usage, but you can do even more by reducing the amount of water required to keep your yard looking great. The best drought-resistant plants are those that are native to the area. In California, for example, succulents grow very well, and varieties of cactus do well in states like Arizona or Texas.

Install Water-Saving Features

The average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. You obviously can’t cut out things like showering or using the toilet, but you can install a few water-saving tools to make your water use more efficient.

There are low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators. You could also use automatic shut-off nozzles, shower timers, and grey water diverters. Any of these water saving devices can easily cut your water usage in half.

Research Laws and Ordinances for Your City

Dry states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada must create certain laws to keep the water from running out. These laws are put into practice for the benefit of everyone, but they only work if you abide by the laws.

If you live in a state where drought is common, research your state and city’s laws. They might designate one day per week that you’re allowed to water your lawn or how full you can fill a pool. Many people are not well versed in the laws set by their states, and it would mean a lot to your community if you did your part.

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Environment

Cyprus is the Forerunner for Ecotourism

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When I was looking for a second citizenship, I happened to see One Visa’s offer on Cyprus Citizenship by investment program. I had heard about Cyprus being a beautiful country, but I did not know much else, so I decided to start my own research about this gem of a place.

After I did some research, I discovered that Cyprus is a popular destination for tourists. Unfortunately, heavy tourism and the associated development affected villages here and there, with some communities being slowly abandoned. To avoid this from happening any further, Cyprus went into ecotourism, and today, it is the forerunner in this arena. Let’s look in further detail at ecotourism in Cyprus here.

How was it started?

It all started in 2006 with the launch of the “Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative.” This program has the sole scope of promoting ecotourism developments in the tourism industry. It concentrates on those areas which require conservation and environmental safety. At the same time, it helps develop social, as well as economic statuses in the rural parts of Cyprus. Through this program, the government was able to acknowledge that ecotourism will play an essential role in the future of Cyprus, with the concept gaining momentum among tourists from all over the globe.

How to go about it?

So, now you are interested in going for an ecotourism vacation in Cyprus. How will you go about it? I would immediately say that everyone should visit the quaint Cypriot villages spread throughout the island. These communities have a smaller population, and not many tourists visit. They make for a great relaxing spot. Enjoy seeing the bustle of village life go by where simple pleasures abound. Most hamlets are linked by specific minibus tours which ferry tourists to these havens. These trips will have a regular schedule, aimed at promoting ecotourism further. Such tours will be regulated to ensure that while the villages can benefit and develop, they do not get overpopulated or overcrowded with tourists. Therefore, you can be sure to enjoy the beautiful sceneries that nature has to offer here.

If you are wondering if there are any activities to do here, my answer would be: “Yes, plenty.” You can go for some guided walks across various regions here. Here you will be able to explore the diversified natural beauty and wildlife of the area. Several agritourism activities and services are planned to open shortly. Once launched, you will be able to engage in picking olives, milking goats, and several other such events here.

What can be learned?

Although we are aware that natural resources need to be preserved, we do not always remember it in real life. When we go on tours such as these, we can realize the significance of protecting nature. Also, when more and more people visit these places, the concept of ecotourism will become popular among more people. Awareness about ecotourism is set to grow and spread throughout the world. Subsequently, sustainable tourism will gain popularity around the globe with Cyprus being the forerunner for ecotourism .

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