EZ Living Interiors and Hometree celebrate Earth Day 2024

Irish home furnishings retailer EZ Living Interiors has called on other SMEs to join them in supporting the environmental work of their biodiversity partner.

To celebrate Earth Day (Monday 22 April), EZ Living Interiors teamed up with its charity biodiversity partner Hometree for a day of planting native Irish trees at Hometree’s headquarters in Ennistymon, Co. Clare, highlighting its work in establishing and conserving permanent Irish native woodland, land regeneration and biodiversity through afforestation, restoration and education.

“We’ve been pledging to Hometree for the last three years,” say Emma Murphy, EZ Living Interiors’ creative manager, who came across the charity organisation while researching tree-planting.

“Because Ireland is so green we think it’s biodiverse,” she says, “but it’s the most deforested country in Europe. Hometree is restoring our native woodlands and we want to help promote the charity to other SMEs to help create more partnerships for them.”

This support is part of the retailer’s broader commitment to environmental practices and sustainability goals across different parts of their business, as Emma explains.

“We recently updated our fleet to lower carbon emissions. The timber used in our furniture is sourced in line with the European Timber Regulation, meaning it is traced all the way back to felling and logging to ensure it is legally logged and each process between felling and manufacture are environmentally and ethically sound. When we meet a new supplier, we request certificates to show both environmental and ethical standards are adhered to, and we look to see who else they supply to.

“There’s a responsibility to give due diligence when importing product into our country. We have the ability to change things for the better and encourage biodiversity. The industry is learning. When everyone is pushing for change it’s easier. This is why we are encouraging other SMEs to come on board with Hometree.”

Since its founding in 2014, Hometree has focused on restoring woodland on its own land and with the cooperation of landowners, farmers and parties with connections to the land. “It’s a mammoth task with 22 million trees needing to be planted annually according to the government,” says Matt Smith, Hometree’s CEO. “Currently, there is not enough nursery capacity to produce all those saplings and there’s a huge product deficit. Buying in from Europe is bad biosecurity. Hometree has its own organic tree nursery ensuring the right trees are planted and the right genetic lineage.”

Currently funded by corporate donations, state support, open day events and producing native Irish saplings, Hometree’s most ambitious task to date is the Wild Atlantic Rainforest Project launched in early 2023. It’s part of their landscape restoration work where they acquire land and return it to a good ecological and biodiverse condition.

“It’s over 4,000 acres in the western counties,” says Matt. “The project aims to significantly enhance local biodiversity, including the reintroduction and thriving of native plants like ferns and lichens, and providing habitats for wildlife. Currently, Ireland has the most degraded habitat.”

For the EZ Living Interiors’ team, learning of the existence of a rainforest on the west coast of Ireland led them to invest in work on the site, although they are willing to back whichever part of Hometree’s mission needs support, according to Emma.

“Of course, we could request for our pledge to go purely toward tree planting and we have set planting quotas that we want to meet every year, but we find more meaning in supporting Hometree across their activities. They have the vision and we are happy to help out in whatever way we can. We look forward to seeing the progress on the site over the coming years and decades with pride.”

For Hometree the benefits from this partnership are clear for Matt who considers it represents one of the best places in business. “It’s private business owners exceeding the status quo in a shared commitment to landscape restoration of scale,” he says. “Without partnerships like this we do not reach the amount of people that we need to in the different sectors. It’s important that we stay connected to our partners and see it as a true partnership that reflects shared ambition.

“In the absence of a couple of trillion Euros the biodiversity crisis needs to be addressed by SMEs, NGOs, local businesses and a volunteer network. By doing it this way we engage all of the stakeholders and we actively build up our connection with nature and learn how to protect it.”

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