Environmental ethos and actions

Chest of Drawers has pioneered the UK's first environmental furniture rating system. It was the culmination of three years research into the issues of the raw materials that go into their furniture and the people who make it. There are three aims:


  • To provide transparency to customers & raise awareness of environmental and ethical issues in our everyday purchases
  • To put pressure on suppliers & improve the furniture industry
  • To practice our belief that sustainability will benefit our business in the long term


Our furniture rating guide

We developed our rating guide and now label every piece of wood furniture in our shops and online with an environmental grading tag. This is a voluntary project designed and operated by Chest of Drawers Ltd. It is not independently assessed however it is our goal for it to grow into a nationally recognised, independently managed rating scheme. We look at three main categories (wood source, workshop practices and furniture miles) connected with the origins of our furniture and we allocate a star rating up to a maximum of 10 stars. We summarise this ‘rating’ on a label on each piece of furniture in our shop. 

As we review and improve the rating system it gains in strength. We believe this information to be accurate and wherever possible we verify it with our own eyes.

Environmental Grading Chart

Recycled products

We have always sold solid wood furniture but these days over 40% of the timber in our wood furniture is recycled from previous uses. Whether it is recycled pine used in our mirrors from Yorkshire, recycled teak from Indonesia (in the process of receiving a 100% recycled certification label), recycled Asian walnut in our exclusive Caspian and Pacific ranges, recycled glass from Spain or recycled fabric from India, we support and encourage the use of recycled materials.

Reclaimed Logs     Bed     recycled glass chandelier

Sustainable timbers

We insist on only timber from certified sources such as PEFC in all new plantation timber products. We work with existing workshops to constantly improve their raw material sources, production practices and working conditions to reflect these principles. We visit our main suppliers to review the sustainability and ethical/environmental impact of their work.

Bamboo Bathroombarcelona chest of drawersmarais table

Fair trade and responsible products

Our stylish bathroom range is made of sustainable bamboo and our contemporary glassware is made of 100% recycled glass. Our luxurious bamboo dressing gowns and bath towels are created by mixing cotton with bamboo fibres. Our fair trade and sustainable raffia baskets are hand made in a women’s cooperative in Madagascar that supports 300 families. Our organic and Fair Trade bedding and bath towels are made in India and certified by SKAL and IFAT. We support RICE in their ONE to ONE projects that benefit refugee families and we are hoping to develop our own ONE to ONE project with the British Refugee Council.

We are developing a funding project with our workshop in Beijing which will donate a percentage of our sales of their products to an employee fund. This year the fund is aimed at helping provide improvements in employee accommodation.

Carbon balancing

We donate a percentage of each sale to The World Land Trust which they use in their Carbon Balancing programme. The amounts fully offset the emissions generated in the transportation of our furniture from its point of manufacture to our customers’ homes. This programme is reviewed quarterly to ensure it is up to date.

Carbon Balanced Logo a nice bearchest of drawers directors

Tough talk?

We developed our Environmental rating system and our Sustainable procurement policy to help with our business decisions several years ago. Most of our suppliers were curious as to how the consumer would respond, a few were obviously uninterested. We parted ways with the few, hoping that we could prove consumers would support us, thus demonstrating the importance of the issue. It seems we have. Our customers have increasingly shown not only an interest but a downright insistence on these products!

Other initiatives

We always use recycled or sustainably certified paper for our paper in the shop and any marketing material we produce. We recycle the small amount of paper, plastic and office supplies that each shop uses. In our Kingston shop we are trialling a ‘no lights’ at night window display. In all lamps in the shop we use low energy bulbs.

How you can get involved if you are a manufacturer?

Please contact us about your products, working practices and raw materials. We are always looking for well designed, responsibly made pieces. We are particularly interested in FSC certified, or recycled wood products.

How you can get involved if you are a customer?

Buy smart. Buy products built to last that are responsibly produced. Don’t purchase ‘disposable’ products - they only end up as landfill. Furniture that is designed to become obsolete in order to increase consumption is shameful.


“Buying FSC is the best assurance of environmentally and socially responsible timber sourcing. Greenpeace are delighted that Chest of Drawers is looking to promote the use of FSC certified wood and has developed a new grading scheme to look at the wider environmental impacts of sourcing their products. As far as we know, this is an industry first.”
Greenpeace Forest Campaigner Ben Ayliffe, Dec 2006


We’ve won some awards for our policies and our practices.

Giant Green Environmental Awards, June 2008

Winner – Green Business of the Year
Winner – Green Champion of the Year

Archant Environmental Awards, November 2008

Winner – London’s Environmental Business of the Year

Archant Environmental Awards, November 2009

2nd place – London’s Environmental Business of the Year

Not the Oscars, but we’re very proud.

Archant Award Winnersgreen rosette Archant Award Winners 2009


We’d like to thank all our customers who prove that there is a market for consumers with a conscience. This is the biggest and fastest way to effect change in our global economy – the real bottom line.

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