MILLIONS of Brits are stumped about whether the wooden or paper products they are purchasing are sustainable, according to research.
A study of 2,000 adults found seven in 10 are unsure how to tell if forest products like paper, furniture, toilet paper and DIY materials are responsibly sourced.
And only four in 10 keep an eye out for a certification label when buying such items for the home and garden.
While 69 per cent assume that some, even all, of what they buy is from sustainable sources.
But with the UK importing more than £8billion of wood products each year, many of which may not even be subject to laws to ensure they are legally sourced, shoppers could be unwittingly implicated in the destruction of forests around the world.
The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) UK reports that although many forest products are covered by EU and UK legislation, which requires them to be legally sourced, the vast majority of the world’s forests do not have certification, which provides an assurance not just of legality but also of responsible management.
There are also notable omissions to those legislations, including garden chairs, chopping boards and printed materials.
Without certification, it can be difficult to know whether these products are even legally sourced, let alone sustainable.
But only one in 10 people check for FSC certification labels on every single purchase.
A spokeswoman for FSC UK said: “There is a worrying lack of knowledge when it comes to buying forest products, but it is positive that recognition of the FSC logo is continuing to increase.
"Seventy three per cent of UK adults now recognize the tick-tree, with more than two thirds of those having at least a rough idea of what it means.
“It can be nigh on impossible to tell just by looking at a piece of furniture, or a greeting card, where that wood used originally came from.
“But if the product has an FSC label, it means it is made with materials from responsibly managed forests and/or recycled sources.
“In an FSC-certified forest trees that are harvested are replaced or allowed to regenerate and some parts of the forest are protected entirely, helping to protect rare animals and plants.”
The study found Brits generally expect DIY timber, garden furniture and cardboard packaging to be sourced sustainably.
But they are less sure about play equipment and toys (28 per cent), sanitary and hygiene products (29 per cent) and office furniture (37 per cent).
Researchers also found there is a general lack of knowledge about what products are even harvested from.
As many as 84 per cent had no idea viscose clothing could be predominantly derived from wood pulp.
Others assume rubber gloves, tyres and the soles of shoes are synthetic, but these can contain natural latex or rubber, made from the sap of the rubber tree.
Brits are also confused about the potential impact of buying unsustainable wood – with one third not realising it could be damaging to wildlife or ecosystems.
And a quarter of those polled via OnePoll didn’t know it could lead to deforestation, which in itself can negatively affect natural ecosystems, biodiversity and the climate.
The spokeswoman for FSC UK added: “There is still a lot to learn about deforestation and sustainability – climate change is a very serious threat to global humanity and forests play an essential role in climate regulation
“People largely want to do their bit, and are right to expect products to be sustainably sourced, but more education is needed on what to look out for, and the damaging impact of blind buying.”
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