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)

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all