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  1. More and more the people of the world are becoming aware of our cultural and societal effects on the environment. There are now several initiatives in many countries that are focused on setting and enforcing standards. With the help of the federal government they help ensure that our reliance on energy and resources have as little to no effect on the environment as possible. While we’re not quite there yet, these entities have made significant strides in many aspects of our lives while helping to create better, more functional and greener furniture that is still stylish and desirable. The Forest Stewardship Council The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit organization that is tasked with promoting responsible management of the world’s forests. They set standards on forest products and also label them as eco-friendly. Established in 1993, the FSC promotes environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forest products. It has over 800 partners including some big household names, such as IKEA. The FSC and its support partners work to abide by and maintain the standards set in order to ensure as little harm to forests as possible. Eco-Friendly Furniture As someone who is in tune with the how we as a society can affect our environment, it’s likely that you put forth the effort to do what you can to mitigate potential damage through the use of green and eco-friendly products. The FSC shares the common belief that we not only must do this as a society, but also have the means to do so. Through the use of these types of products, you and your family will be doing your small part to help lower your contribution to the different issues affecting us all. There are now many products and office furniture that you can purchase that are indeed eco-friendly yet stylish and functional. From an ergonomic office chair to an adjustable height workstation, there are literally hundreds of types of unique office furniture pieces that you can choose from that will look fantastic. You’ll also know that you have taken the time to ensure that the furniture in your home, small office or even at work are as environmentally friendly as possible. How the FSC Has Contributed to a Greener World Because the Forest Stewardship Council has created standards that all of its support members must adhere to, more furniture than ever is certified green or eco-friendly. Furniture companies for example, must ensure that they are logging the right trees, ensuring the preservation of forests deemed to be “no-cut” forests. While the system that the FSC has in place is not without its critics, its core values are true and they continue to improve the integrity of their organization and certification system. Some opinions on the FSC for example suggest that only the largest of companies can afford to meet the standards required for certification. This makes it much more difficult for local and smaller logging companies to meet the standards set, which in turn can be viewed as anti-competitive. Because large brands can afford the certification, their product may be looked at as favorable. To its credit, the FSC has implemented specialized requirements for smaller companies that are logging areas 100 hectares or smaller. The Benefits to the Consumer for Purchasing Eco-Friendly Products Companies have recognized the demand for green and eco-friendly furniture and this is a market that will continue to grow. The benefits to the consumer then, are also growing. There are government subsidies for companies that meet green standards set by organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council, which means higher margins to the spreadsheets. The added bonus is that it will also help market their brand as one that is environmentally aware. For consumers, the biggest benefit of course is in knowing that you have purchased a product that meets these standards - that your furniture did not contribute to adverse effects on the already depleting resource that is the world’s forests but was instead made from sustainable resources. Well made wood products can also last a really long time. If taken care of, furniture can last generations. Additionally, it can also be reclaimed and possibly built into something else and will look beautiful for years to come.
  2. Some 45 million Americans have bid goodbye to the daily commute and started working from home at least once a week. While staying put and telecommuting is a great way to reduce fuel expenses, traffic time, and carbon footprint, there are still so many things that can be done to help the environment. When working in an office building, someone else generally takes charge of the environmental details. However when you work in your own home, you make the decisions. Whether you’re working from home full-time, or are just using a home office after hours, here are some adjustments to make your working environment eco-friendly. But don’t limit yourself to these suggestions, there are many other ways to go green! 1. Change your lighting Forget incandescent bulbs. It’s time to switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) for your overhead lights and desk lamps. CFLs may be more expensive than their counterparts, but they last significantly longer and are cheaper over time. Energy star estimates that each CFL can save you about $45. LED lighting is also an energy-efficient option, as it can last up to 40,000 hours and uses 75 percent less energy than incandescent light bulbs. 2. Select energy-saving devices LCD monitors use less power and are better for the environment compared to CRT monitors. When buying office equipment, look for the Energy Star label. Energy Star products like printers, computers, and fax machines have eco-friendly features that can save electricity to light your home for years to come. As for laptops, check the Electronic Product Environment Assessment Tool (EPEAT) logo to identify sustainable ones. 3. Choose eco-friendly furniture Natural wood or handmade pieces are some of the most environmentally friendly choices for your home office. They are manufactured with less energy and don’t contain any toxic materials. If you’re looking for functional, sustainable furniture that can also be used as art pieces, shop for antique pieces. Reputable online furniture shops like Antiques on Old Plank Road have authentic wood-crafted desks and quality shelves that your green office could use. 4. Power down Many appliances use a significant amount of much energy even when they’re not being used. According to the Department of Energy, 5 percent of all the electricity in America is wasted on unused devices. So when you’re done working, turn off your computer and other office equipment. Rather than setting them to “sleep” mode - which still uses electricity - use a power strip. Plugging the appliances into one surge-protecting power strip will also make turning the appliances on and off a lot easier. 5. Go paperless Eliminating paper from your office is the best option, but it’s not entirely realistic. The next best thing you can do is reducing your paper by digitizing your paperwork. Consider emailed invoices instead of paper alternatives and instead of faxing, scan the document and email it. Evernote is a great tool for in-office organization as it keeps track of your files. Reducing paper will also help you maintain a tidier desk, too! Greening your office by buying environmentally friendly products is easy, but being green is more than buying products - it’s a lifestyle change. Making small changes in your behavior would count too.