Vermont Woods Studios Handmade Furniture

Mission

This Earth Day, I Pledge to…..

April 22nd, 2014 by Kelsey Eaton

Earth Day Celebration

We love getting to spend time outside the showroom. We sit on 100+ acres of woodland, making it the perfect place to get outside and enjoy the majestic woods! Living & working in Vermont inspires us to make sustainability a priority in our business and our personal lives.

Earth Day Gives us the Opportunity to Reflect on our Environmental Impact

Each & Every one of us at Vermont Woods Studios works here for a reason; we are passionate about Vermont furniture and we are passionate about keeping our forests thriving. We love the outdoors, and we love the environment. Earth day is very special to us, and this year we’ve decided to each make a pledge towards making our everyday lives more eco-friendly. It’s easy to forget about the impact of even the smallest choices we make sometimes, and we’re excited to be more environmentally conscious this year.

This Earth Day, I pledge to….

Peggy: I pledge to buy more organic and bird friendly coffee for the office.

Douglas: I pledge to stop using plastic water bottles. My daughter and I use 20+ a week when working out– we’re both going to start using large glass mason jars instead!

Dennis: I pledge to maintain the bird houses I just built and put up around my house.

Liz: My pledge is to create a compost bin and start composting at my cabin, as I’ve been wanting to for a long time!

Sean: My pledge is to buy less clothes this year and to donate all of my old or unwanted clothes to charity!

Michelle: I pledge to eat more food from my own garden this year.

Loryn: I pledge to drive less since I will be buying a bike soon!

Kelsey: I pledge to grow monarch-friendly plants outside of my apartment.

Nina: My pledge is to collect rainwater and use that to water my garden, rather than wasting water from the faucet!

So what’s your Earth Day pledge? Remember that even a small change in your lifestyle can make a huge difference in our planet! We’d love to hear what you’re eco-change is going to be this year. Let us know on Facebook or send us a Tweet!

 

| This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios.  Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains. | 

 

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BEEC’s Salamander Soiree

April 5th, 2014 by Peggy Farabaugh

 

Come join us at the Salamander Soiree tonight, April 5th from 6-8:30pm at the River Garden on Main Street in Brattleboro VT.  A number of animal lovers from Vermont Woods Studios will be attending the annual party sponsored by our friends at the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center BEEC.  We’ll be helping to recruit and train crossing guards for this year’s annual amphibian migration. Why not join us?

Tom Tyning, author of the Stokes Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles will be speaking about his research projects on vernal pools, rare salamanders, endangered snakes, and spade foot toads.  Tom is always lively, informative, and funny.  Other festivities include: hors d’oeuvres, live music and the famous Salamander Crossing Guard Fashion Show.  Bring your iphone or ipad and you can install BEEC’s new Salamander Crossing app.  Best of all, it’s free!

For a little background on why a fine furniture company would be so dedicated to protecting frogs, toads and salamanders, here’s a look back at previous amphibian-related posts:

See you tonight!  Dress code?  Black and yellow, of course.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios.  Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

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Our Green Mission: Walking the Talk

April 3rd, 2014 by Peggy Farabaugh

Stonehurst: A Sustainable Furniture Store with a Green Mission

Our sustainable furniture showroom at Stonehurst sits on a 100 acre wooded parcel in Vernon, Vermont.  This is the view out our back windows– also a place for weekly meetings (weather permitting) and a backdrop for forest conservation projects.

Ken and I founded Vermont Woods Studios fine furniture store almost nine years ago.  As a woodworker, Ken’s interest was in earning a living by promoting the tradition of high quality Vermont made wood furniture.  For me, the project was about forest conservation and my desire to help protect forest habitat and wildlife for future generations*.   Over the years it’s been a challenge managing this yin-yang pair of objectives but I think we’ve been able to maintain a pretty good balance.

Stonehurst Opens Up New Opportunities for Forest Conservation

This year we have a chance to bring a whole new dimension to our forest conservation mission through our newly acquired property at Stonehurst.  The farmhouse we purchased and renovated into a Vermont made furniture gallery sits on 100 wooded acres in the foothills of the Green Mountain National Forest.  In the past our environmental mission was largely fulfilled by donating to like-minded non-profits**, but now we can also also partner with them by providing forest habitat for various conservation projects.

Join Us!

Below are a few conservation activities we’re supporting for 2014:

  • Woodlands for Wildlife – Vermont Coverts educates landowners in sound forest management practices and the principles of stewardship for the enhancement of wildlife.  Ken and I are attending their 3-day seminar on forest and wildlife management this spring to learn how to improve wildlife habitat and provide better conditions for native deer, turkeys, moose, bear, birds, bob cats, chipmunks, squirrels and other species that may be living at Stonehurst.
  • MonarchWatch - When Kendall and Riley were in elementary school we used to capture monarch caterpillars, watch their metamorphosis and tag the butterflies before waving them off on their epic migration to Mexico every fall.  But for the past several years I haven’t seen even a single monarch.  So this year we’ll support Chip Taylor at MonarchWatch by planting butterfly gardens (including milkweed) and encouraging others to do the same.
  • Vermont Center for Eco Studies- VCE is a group of Vermont’s foremost conservation scientists who inspire citizen volunteers across Vermont and around the world.  We’ve been supporting them for years and are excited about being able to use Stonehurst as a place to gather data for their many programs including:
    • Vernal pool mapping
    • VT reptile and amphibian atlas
    • VT breeding bird survey
  • Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center – BEEC’s annual Salamander Soiree is this Saturday April 5th from 6-8:30pm in Brattleboro at the River Garden on Main Street.  We’ll be there to help recruit crossing guards for this year’s annual amphibian migration.

If you’re in our neighborhood and share similar interests, please stop by Stonehurst, give us a call or connect with us on Facebook.  Let us know what you’re working on and how we can help.  As the southern most corner of Vermont, Vernon can play a significant role in our state’s conservation efforts.  Let’s make it happen!

* We are losing the worlds forests at a rate of > 1 acre/second.  A major factor in deforestation is widespread illegal logging for timber that’s used to make cheap furniture sold by IKEA, Home Depot and other big-box stores.  Our goal at Vermont Woods Studios is to help raise awareness about where your furniture comes from and persuade people to buy sustainable furniture made from legally harvested wood.

** The non-profits we’ve supported include the World Wildlife Fund WWF, The Nature Conservancy TNC, Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center BEEC, Vermont Center for Ecostudies VCE and others working to conserve forests and wildlife.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios.  Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

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Earth Hour 2014: Be a Part Of It!

March 26th, 2014 by Peggy Farabaugh

Earth Hour 2014 | WWF

This Saturday March 29th from 8:30-9:30pm is Earth Hour, the largest environmental movement in history. Be a part of it by turning your lights off to symbolize your support for Mother Nature.

What is Earth Hour?

Earth Hour is the largest environmental movement in history and it’s sponsored annually by the World Wide Fund WWF.  It’s purpose is to bring people from around the world together for 1 hour in solidarity and support of Mother Nature.  The event has grown to include over 7000 cities and towns worldwide that participate by turning their lights off from 8:30-9:30pm (local time) as a symbol of their commitment to the planet.

Why Do We Care?

I started Vermont Woods Studios in 2005 as my personal attempt to be part of the solution to environmental care, especially in the area of forest and wildlife conservation.  Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to find a small cadre of brilliant professionals, willing to work long hours in an effort to get this sustainable furniture company up and running.  Today I can say we’re making great strides and much of that is attributed to our commitment to a mission that we believe in.  Earth hour symbolizes that mission.

How Can You Participate?

It’s easy and fun to be a part of Earth Hour this Saturday, March 29th at 8:30pm.   Check out WWF’s Earth Hour website for things to do while the lights are out.  Candlelight dinners, star-gazing, nighttime bike rides, moonlit picnics and more.

Curious about what others in your city are doing for Earth Hour?  Here’s a map showing various celebrations across America and a list of cities, buildings and businesses that are participating.  Around New England you’ll find dozens of activities including dramatic displays in New York City’s Times Square and the Empire State Building and dimming of the lights in locations all around Boston.  If you add your name to the movement this Saturday, share photos with us at Vermont Woods Studios (Twitter and Facebook #earthhour).  Together we can make a difference!

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios.  Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

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International Day of Forests 2014

March 21st, 2014 by Kelsey Eaton

International Day of Forests is held anually on March 21st as a way to raise awareness for sustainable forest management, conservation, and sustainable development of all types of forests for the benefit of our planet and for current and future generations.

Why Raising Awareness about our Forests is Important

Forests cover one third of the Earth’s land mass, performing vital functions around the world. Around 1.6 billion people – including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures – depend on forests for their livelihood.

Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than half of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. Forests also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent populations.

They play a key role in our battle against climate change. Forests contribute to the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity in the air. They protect watersheds, which supply fresh water to rivers.

Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, we are destroying the very forests we need to survive. Global deforestation continues at an alarming rate – 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually. Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.” (UN)

Participating in International Day of Forests

Forests are a vital part of our local and international ecosystem. At Vermont Woods Studios, we’re proud to make our commitment to sustainable forestry the driving force behind our mission. We hope that by promoting sustainable wood products, our audience will become more aware of where their wood furniture comes from & choose not to support companies who practice unsustainable logging practices. We celebrate trees & forests each and every single day.

 For International Day of Forests, countries across the globe will celebrate trees and forests with a variety activities spanning from community level activities like film showings and tree plantings, to national and international campaigns through art, photography & social media. What are you doing to celebrate International Day of Forests? Let us know in the comments section or on Facebook!

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Sustainable Eco Friendly Furniture

March 15th, 2014 by Peggy Farabaugh

Sustainable Eco Friendly Furniture from Vermont

With yet another snowstorm on it’s way to Vermont, my mind is longing for Spring. How about you? Perhaps a few images of green grass and the birds and the bees (courtesy of Polyvore) will hurry things along?

In Vermont the seasons are still tied to production of wood furniture.  Winter provides the best opportunity for careful logging because frozen ground is less susceptible to damage.  And Spring begins a new cycle for forest stewardship planning– a process that ensures availability of wood for future generations.  At Vermont Woods Studios that process is led by Lynn Levine (our professional forester) who helps manage the 100 acre woodland that Stonehurst sits upon.  A woodland we’re using to help people understand where their furniture comes from:  trees that are sustainably harvested.

What is Sustainable, Eco Friendly Furniture?

Polywood all weather Adirondack chairs | Recycled plastic milk jugs

These eco friendly Polywood all weather Adirondack chairs are made of recycled plastic milk jugs.  Other marks of sustainability include green certifications, local responsibly harvested wood and use of non-toxic materials.

I just googled “sustainable eco friendly furniture” and came up with everything from IKEA (who was recently suspended from the Forest Stewardship Council FSC for illegally clear cutting 600 year old trees in Russia) to Pottery Barn (well known for  greenwashing campaigns like their eco chic collection). At Vermont Woods Studios  we’ve written a lot about sustainable furniture and how it’s defined.   Because we sell mainly wooden furniture we focus on responsible sourcing, green certification of wood, advantages of local and American made furniture, and the importance of recycled  and handmade furniture.  For examples of a wider variety of eco friendly furniture, check out the latest green furniture articles on Inhabitat.

Why Buy Sustainable Furniture?

“Every dollar you spend or don’t spend is a vote you cast for the world you want.” – L.N. Smith

A couple other reasons that come to mind include:

  • better health for your family (no exposure to the flammables, lead and toxic coatings that are often present in furniture)
  • less investment in furniture over the long run (sustainable furniture is built to last a lifetime so no replacements are necessary) and
  • support for local communities that produce sustainable furniture

Have some reasons of your own?  Let us know on Facebook or in the comments section below.

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IKEA Cuts Down 600 Year Old Trees, Suspended From FSC

March 13th, 2014 by Kelsey Eaton

Intact old-growth forest on land leased by IKEA/Swedwood in Russian

Intact old-growth forest on land leased by IKEA/Swedwood in Russian Karelia. Photo © Robert Svensson, Protect the Forest 2011.

 IKEA: A Trusted Sustainable Furniture Source? Not so quick.

While furniture giant IKEA has been leading campaigns for their use of sustainably sourced cotton, and promoting LED lighting & solar panels in their stores– they apparently made the mistake of not paying attention to where their wood comes from. Already criticized for their staggering wood usage (IKEA uses a whopping 1% of the entire earths forests for their furniture), they are  now facing harsh criticism for cutting down old growth trees in Karelia, Russia.

Swedwood, IKEA’s forestry subsidiary, was given lease to log 700,000 acres of Russian forest as long as they avoided old growth trees and trees in specified protected areas. A recent audit done by the Forest Stewardship Council revealed “major deviations” from regulations, including cutting down 600+ year old trees.

Environmental organizations had been voicing their concern about IKEA’s logging practices in Karelia for years– PFS (Protect the Forest, Sweden) apparently handed Swedwood over 180,000 signatures and a joint statement with criticisms of their forestry practices and demands to transform their habits to protect the valuable old growth forests over a year ago.

 

Protestors with a sign in Swedish that reads: "Hello, our furniture is made of old-growth forests. At IKEA you get low prices at any cost." Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2012/0530-hance-ikea-fsc-logging.html#eUSKYJMi98gOhYLu.99

Protestors with a sign in Swedish that reads: “Hello, our furniture is made of old-growth forests. At IKEA you get low prices at any cost.”

IKEA’s infraction resulted in the Forest Stewardship Council temporarily stripping them of their certification. Despite the withdrawal of IKEA’s FSC certification for their illegal logging, insufficient dialogue, lack of environmental consideration and work environment issues– many believe that FSC is not addressing key issues.

According to Linda Ellegaard Nordstrom, “The report raises several deficiencies, but does not describe the main problem, which is that pioneer exploitation, with fragmenting and breaking into the last intact forest landscapes and tracts, does not fit to FSC’s principles and criteria. Thus we believe that the FSC label is still far from being a guarantee for sustainable forestry, Together with Russian environmental organizations we have suggested to IKEA that they, as an influential multinational corporation, should set a good example by announcing that they will no longer log or buy timber from intact old-growth forests, whether the forests are certified or not.”

An Ikea spokeswoman told The Sunday Times: “We see the suspension of the certificate as highly temporary. The deviations mainly cover issues related to facilities and equipment for our co-workers, forestry management as well as training of our forestry co-workers,” claiming that they have already corrected most of the violations.

While IKEA announced plans to stop operations in Karelia in 2014, it’s important for consumers to be critical of all businesses claiming to practice sustainability. IKEA is a leader in the furniture industry, using resources unimaginable to a small  business like Vermont Woods Studios. We would love to see them take true accountability for their actions.

logs.IKEASwedwood20.568

Destroyed old-growth forest with piles of timber on land leased by IKEA/Swedwood in Russian Karelia. Photo © Robert Svensson, Protect the Forest 2011. Retrieved from MongaBay.

 

 

 

Responsible forest management is at the heart of our mission as the devastating loss of these old trees is irreversible, and we can only hope that more furniture companies will take note of the criticism that IKEA is facing and take steps towards sustainable forestry. It’s up to consumers to make informed decisions about where they buy the products that ends up in their homes. If certification can’t stop this type of thing from happening, then people must be more careful than ever in picking a company that they care about and trust.

What are your thoughts? Leave us a note in the comments section, or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter!

[Sources: Green Retail Decisions, Sustainable Brands, Triple Pundit]

 

 

|This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios.  Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.|

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Message In A Bottle: Clean up the Ocean!

March 12th, 2014 by Peggy Farabaugh

Treeson Spring Water

Treeson Eco Friendly Spring Water | Change the World

You can help Treeson get their fledgling spring water company off the ground by supporting their campaign at Kickstarter.com.

I don’t usually promote other companies or products unless they’re based in Vermont and related to our environmental mission at Vermont Woods Studios.  But although Treeson is operated in Costa Rica, the company caught my eye because their founding principles are so similar to ours.

Cleaning Up Ocean Plastic Pollution

Owner Carlton Solle took his family on a trip to Costa Rica 5 years ago.  Like me, he was alarmed at the plastic pollution littering that country’s beautiful waters and coastlines.  And like me, he  learned that less than 20 percent of the 50 billion plastic water bottles sold in the United States are actually recycled (the remaining 40 billion end up in landfills, waterways and oceans, or in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch).

Our response to plastic pollution at Vermont Woods Studios was to partner with Polywood in promoting and selling outdoor patio furniture made from recycled plastic bottles.  Carlton’s response was to create Treeson spring water which is packaged in an eco-friendly, biodegradable, collapsible water bottle that comes with a pre-paid USPS postage sticker.  The empty bottle goes in the Mail box instead of the trash.

Replanting the Rainforest

For every bottle of spring water sold, Treeson plants a tree. They are working closely with our friend Kevin Peterson at the Eco Preservation Society to replant the rainforest in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica (this is the area we visited a few years ago and did volunteer work building furniture at a local school).  So far over 38,000 trees have been planted.

Incidentally, Kevin is one of the people who influenced us at Vermont Woods Studios to plant a tree for every furniture sale.

Life Cycle of a Treeson Bottle:  Cradle to Grave

Treeson water bottles are made from plant-based materials and filled with filtered spring water sourced close to each retail territory.  Empty bottles are easily flattened and returned for free (by peeling off the label to reveal a return label) via the United States Postal Service.  The used bottles are then recycled to produce clean energy (with a machine that converts the plant-based material into biogas) that is used to produce new bottles.

Support Treeson’s Kickstarter Campaign

You can help Treeson get their fledgling company off the ground by supporting their campaign at Kickstarter.com.   There you’ll find information and frequently asked questions about their mission, business plans and processes.

We wish them well.  Can companies like Treeson and Vermont Woods Studios really change the world?  Let us know your thoughts on Facebook.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios.  Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

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Truly Green Furnishings: Chemical Free, Organic Furniture

March 11th, 2014 by Kelsey Eaton

 

Rustic Barnwood Furniture

This This Rustic Barnwood Sideboard with Ceramic Sink, rich with history and character, is created from high quality, reclaimed and recycled doors, floor boards, siding and other original components of New England’s historic barns. Organic, live-edge buffet top.

Furniture is more than just something we sit on, sleep on, and eat on; our furniture becomes a part of our life story. It’s an integral piece of what makes a house a home. But for the chemically sensitive, or for those who are just serious about not bringing harsh chemicals into their homes, finding the right furniture can seem like an impossible task.

At Vermont Woods Studios, we’re dedicated to providing furniture that is good for your health, home, and the environment.

Our Wood Furniture

All of our furniture (with the exception of our Outdoor line, which is made from recycled milk jugs) is handcrafted in Vermont using real, natural hardwoods. We do not work with inferior substrates like Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF), particle board, or flimsy faux wood veneers.

We work mostly with cherrymapleoak and walnut. Each board in your furniture is selected by hand, and inspected for quality, strength, straightness, grain and color. When requested, we use FSC green-certified lumber, although there is still a premium for FSC certified wood. Sometimes our artisans harvest lumber from the woods on their own property, a sustainable approach that adds another dimension to the story of your furniture!

Toxin Free Finishes

Many of our furniture makers continue to use traditional oil and wax based finishes, but even those that use more modern finishes ensure that they are non-toxic, formaldehyde-free and eco-friendly with little or no Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs).

As concern over indoor air quality continues to grow, many of our furniture makers are moving towards water based finishes. Conventional petroleum based solvents contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are harmful to the atmosphere. While most of these VOCs are released at the time of manufacturing, a small amount remains on the product and can off-gas in the home. Many of our collections can now be requested in a non-emitting water-based finish.

Shopping for Organic Furniture Online

Questions to ask when making decisions on your organic wood furniture:

  • What type of wood is used?
  • Where does the wood come from?
  • How is the wood processed?  Are chemicals used in processing?  What kind of chemicals?
  • What type of finish and/or stain is used?  Is it a low VOC or no VOC finish-stain?  Can you supply an MSDS (material safety data sheet) for the finish?
  • What type of glue is used?  Is it non-toxic?  Does it contain formaldehyde?  MSDS available?
  • Where is the furniture made and by whom?
  • How is the furniture packaged for shipment?

If you have any questions or want to discuss the issues of natural, non-toxic furniture, give us a call or email us at Vermont Woods Studios.  We’ll be glad to help!

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios.  Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

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Rainforest Conservation, Sustainable Tourism and the New Nicaragua

March 6th, 2014 by Peggy Farabaugh

Sustainable Tourism in Nicaragua

A typical view of the Nicaraguan Pacific coast.  We took this photo at the Aqua Wellness eco lodge near Playa Gigante.  It was recently featured in Interior Design for excellence in sustainability and local sourcing of building materials and foods.

Vermont’s been cold this year.  We’ve had a winter like I haven’t seen since I was a kid (when every winter was like this).  So Ken and I decided to cash in some FF miles and head south for a week.  We like to visit rainforest countries because it gives us a chance to understand the realities and trends behind Vermont Woods Studios’ mission— forest conservation.  Central America provides the closest rainforest and we’ve traveled to Costa Rica and Panama before.  But after much research we decided to try Nicaragua this time.

When I told my mother and sister we were going to Nicaragua, they hesitated and politely said “be careful”.  Ken’s friends said “bring a machete” and “watch out for the Sandinistas”.  Douglas and Dennis encouraged us to update our wills before leaving.

Well, I’m here to tell you Nicaragua has changed!  No longer a war-torn country, it is now evolving to join it’s Central American neighbors as a warm and welcoming respite for it’s  neighbors to the North.  Lush rainforests, white sandy beaches, and majestic mountains make up Nicaragua’s landscape.  And friendly people reach out to help you find them along with unique, affordable places to stay, play and eat.

We chose Nicaragua because of it’s government’s commitment to the sustainable development of tourism (rather than the depletion of rainforest resources).  But recently news has broken of President Daniel Ortega’s $40 Billion deal with Hong Kong to build a canal across Nicaragua (that would compete with the Panama canal).   NPR aired a discussion of the catastrophic environmental and cultural devastation that could result.

Hopefully the deal is abandoned in lieu of the economic benefits of eco-tourism.  Interested in helping to tip the balance?  Learn more about affordable, sustainable Nicaraguan travel at the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Trip website.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios.  Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

 

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