Donnachadh McCarthy: The Home Ecologist

'It seems that boats for the boys are more important than preserving the planet'

A A A

The figure £3.2bn has been in my head recently. No, it's not the royalties from my eco-books, but rather the amount of money that our government announced it was going to spend on two new aircraft carriers. It will cost a staggering additional £50bn to equip and crew them for 20 years. By coincidence, it would also cost £3.2bn to insulate the 11 million non-insulated cavity-walled UK homes, which would save 12 million tonnes of CO2 and lift millions out of fuel poverty. It seems boats for the boys are more important than preserving the planet.

More constructively, we ourselves can cut CO2 emissions by not buying wood that contributes to rainforest destruction. The felling of rainforests now emits almost 20 per cent of all climate-crisis gases. Sadly the UK is the largest EU importer of illegal rainforest timber, importing a frightening £2bn last year alone. One way we buy wood without knowing it is when we buy a sofa. I only realised this when I moved home, and hauling the sofa down three flights of steps was a nightmare due to its timber frame.

So, how do we ensure our lovely new sofas don't contain criminally felled timber? Bizarrely, it is not illegal to sell furniture containing illegal timber, so we are dependent on the ethics of the retailer. Ideally, we would get a sofa whose wood is certified as being sustainably harvested. I contacted some sofa outlets: Selfridges, DFS, Ikea and Habitat. None was able to confirm that the wood in its sofas was certified rainforest free. Impressively, Asda did say that the wood in its sofas was certified sustainable.

If you want to go for green gold and buy a UK handmade leather sofa made from FSC certified wood, and using toxin-free dyes, try www.greenwoodsfurniture.co.uk.

Of course, the most eco-friendly new sofa is not new at all but either a refurbished or reused one. I'm proud that, at 49, I've never bought a new sofa, so a rainforest tribe's livelihood was never decimated to keep me comfy.

Nowadays, finding an eco-sofa is easy. If your wallet is bulging, there are antique markets. Or if you prefer your eco-bargains, you can get sofas at rock-bottom prices in places ranging from eBay to your local house-clearance store, or even free from www.Freecycle.org. As usual, going green can save you serious money. If you don't like the colour or fabric, you can have it reupholstered, or, like me, simply get some lovely coloured throws. While it won't save you £3.2bn, if we all did it, we could save millions of rainforest trees, which themselves are worth billions, and the livelihoods of those who live off them.

It is by just such choices that the next generation will, rightly, judge us.

Donnachadh McCarthy is an eco-auditor, and the author of Easy Eco-auditing (www.3acorns.co.uk)

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test