Eco-Friendly Idea Of The Week

We all like to think we are doing our bit for the environment and here’s an idea I came across this week that is beginning to grow on me.

Instead of cutting down a mature tree and wastefully chopping it up into smaller pieces to get the size of wood you need to make a stick of furniture, how about training a tree to grow into the furniture shape you want? This is the brainwave of Gavin and Alice Munro who run a furniture farm in Wirksworth in Derbyshire.

At the moment, they are growing 250 chairs, 100 lamps and 50 tables, carefully guiding shoots to grow in the direction and into the shape they require. They liken the process to a “kind of zen 3D printing”.

If you are intrigued, don’t expect to get your furniture in a hurry. A chair can take between six to nine years to grow and then you have to wait a year for the wood to dry out before you can get your hands on it. And the mainstream furniture companies will not have to worry on price, either. A chair goes for £10,000, lamps from between £900 and £2,300 and tables fetch around £2,500 to £12,500.

However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing. An early attempt at growing trees came to naught when those methane producing, ozone layer destroying, eco-terrorists aka a herd of cows trampled over them and the remnants were nibbled by rabbits. These teething problems, I’m assured, have now been overcome and the Munros are in full swing.

As a money-making idea, though, I can’t help thinking that they are barking up the wrong tree.

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