For truly carefree lounging, choose a chair without a shady past. While they are gorgeous, products made of tropical wood can leave some ugly scars on the planet. Although tropical forests cover only 7 percent of the globe's land mass, they are home to 50 percent of all species on Earth.

Standing forests also store carbon, keeping greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere; the Amazon alone holds the equivalent of 10 years' worth of human-produced global warming emissions. These forests, the lungs of the Earth, are vanishing under unrelenting pressures for agriculture, development, fuel and the marketplace for tropical hardwood furniture and building supplies. Brazil alone cleared 42 million hectares of tropical forest, an area the size of California, between 1990 and 2006, according to a NASA Earth Observatory report.

If you want an easy conscience when you relax on your outdoor furniture, rest assured there's a good green choice:  Wood products with the Forest Stewardship Council label, certified as coming from well-managed forests. This excludes plantations that have replaced wild forests. 

Crate & Barrel's FSC-approved Arbor collection includes chaise longues, armchairs and tables made of plantation-grown eucalyptus.

Naturally Durable  has FSC-labeled Machiche chairs and tables.

Polywood's letter-perfect Adirondack lawn chairs are actually made of recycled milk jugs. 

For more information, see the National Wildlife Federation's new scorecard of outdoor furniture retailers.

This story originally appeared in Plenty in June 2008. The story was added to

Copyright Environ Press 2008