Positive Action with Anna from Made By You

Anna grew up on a property in the middle of a rainforest just outside of Berry on New South Wales South Coast, and still calls the region home.  

Describing herself as a true “maker” she loves woodwork, painting, design and everything interiors. In 2019, she founded Made by You, an online timber furniture business that bridges the gap between custom made and flat pack furniture. “We’re basically an affordable and sustainable alternative as we use a species of plantation timber called Paulownia or “The Tree of the Future” as environmentalists have lovingly labelled it and we encourage people to make pieces to fit their space perfectly – which is why our whole range is fully customisable! We have sustainability at our core, which is something we’re truly proud of and it’s been exciting to create a business built around it”.

We chatted with Anna about how her journey started with Carbon Positive Australia and what her motivations are behind supporting us. ­

How did your journey start with Carbon Positive Australia?
While we use the most renewable and environmentally friendly timber we can source (Paulownia takes only 10 years to grow, unlike other hardwoods that can take up to 100 years to reach maturity), I wanted to make sure for every tree we take from the earth – we’re giving back – x10 fold. I was searching for a tree planting fund that was really grass roots, where money wasn’t going into marketing, but rather, into the physical projects where there were real, tangible results – and something that was Australian based. When I reached out to Carbon Positive Australia to see if it would be a good fit, I quickly realised there’s lovely, passionate and capable people running on the ground planting, so it felt right. Since we launched, for every product we sell, we donate to Carbon Positive Australia to plant a tree in our customer’s name. 

What are your motivations behind supporting Carbon Positive Australia? 
I’ve tried to create a truly sustainable business, but fundamentally we’re using timber and taking from the earth. I want to make sure we are responsible in giving back to it. 

For me, it’s a no-brainer and very important. 

Why is taking action important to you? 
Protecting and regenerating old growth forests is one of the most crucial things we can do to face climate change. The amount of carbon these kinds of trees sequester simply can’t be regenerated in our lifetime. I did a lot of research before starting the business that led me to use plantation grown, and fast-growing timber rather than using hardwood supplied from FSC or PEFC certified forests. These regulatory bodies aren’t doing enough in my opinion to protect and police over logging or illegal logging and some brands use these certifications as a way of substantiating sustainable practice when in reality, there’s a lot of issues with the supply chains behind these labels. I’m not interested in greenwashing. I want to provide people with a truly sustainable alternative to flat pack furniture. It’s a huge industry with a lot of issues and waste – and I want to be a part of the change to fix that. 

How do you take actionable steps in your everyday life to reduce your carbon footprint? 
Personally, I love shopping vintage for clothes and homewares! I find “things I haven’t seen before” so refreshing. Within our business, we use the least amount of machining necessary to make our pieces. We use battery operated tools – so no big CNC machines or anything. I also designed 100% organic, GOTS certified canvas bags for our furniture to be delivered in too. These bags are designed to be kept for the next time our customers move their pieces, used around the home for other purposes in the meantime, or for them to send back to us to use again. I’m super proud we’re implementing this cyclical economy into our business model. We also use carbon neutral shipping, compostable mail tags and simple, small but important things around the workshop like having “RECYCLE” and then “LANDFILL” bins help remind people of the reality of waste. We also have 0% wastage on our timber itself – every single piece is used. We store offcuts and either use on other products, or design new products around them. We’re certainly not perfect but we’re trying to do business responsibly by looking at every process and refine it as we go.  

What would you say to those who are considering but have not yet started the journey in understanding and reducing their carbon footprint? 
I think it’s a really rewarding challenge and encourages you to rethink how things have been done before. I think it makes you more creative, more resourceful, more imaginative – think slowly and carefully about your decisions and suddenly, it will become a part of who you are. 

Any other comments?
Get on board! There’s nothing better than making a sale and then planting a tree from it – it’s very rewarding and reframes money to change!