Our sustainable furniture company was founded in 2005 on a mission of forest conservation. I had been studying rainforest conservation for years and wanted to see if I could do something to help change this startling statistic:
Every second of every minute of every day…
We lose over 1 acre of rainforest. Permanently.
Several years prior to starting Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture I had formed a non-profit corporation with the same mission (rainforest conservation) but I was never really able to get the funding I needed to lift it off the ground. So our wood furniture company was built as a for-profit corporation to help accomplish the same goals.
It’s not always easy to explain why a Vermont based fine furniture company is so committed to rainforest conservation. When I saw this info-graphic, Forests and the Green Economy (courtesy of The Nature Conservancy) I thought it might help. Here are a few rainforest facts that might surprise you:
- More than half of the planet’s species live in the rainforest even though the rainforest only occupies about 2% of the earth’s surface
- Many of our favorite iconic species are critically endangered due to deforestation, including all species of big cats and all species of big apes
- An estimated 137 species of plants and animals are driven into extinction every day due to deforestation
- Rainforest deforestation contributes as much to global warming as the sum of all the cars, trains and planes in the world
- Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface; now they cover <6%
- If deforestation continues at this rate, the rainforests could be gone in < 40 years and once they’re gone, they are gone forever. Rainforests do not regenerate the way our Northern temperate forests do
The Nature Conservancy summarizes this and other compelling facts about the rainforest in their info-graphic. Along with the World Wildlife Fund they are among the world’s best hopes for saving the rainforest. Check out their info-graphic and learn about ways you can help everyday through your choices of food, paper, furniture, flooring and other forest products.
At Vermont Woods Studios we donate $1 for every sale to the Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees project and run occasional benefits to support non-profits that work to save the rainforest and it’s inhabitants. Learn more about our work in the Mission section of our blog and website.
We were happy to get a note from GreenPeople.org today, awarding our green furniture with their Seal of approval for the 7th year in a row. GreenPeople.org is a credible (not to mention the world’s largest) online directory of green, eco-friendly, and holistic goods, services, non-profit organizations and eco-events. They have been helping people locate authentically green products since 1998 by evaluating businesses with meaningful and consistent standards for environmental protection and social justice.
To learn more about our green furniture and why it’s eco friendly have a look at the green mission pages of our blog, browse through the environmental section of our website or give us a call to chat about wooden furniture and sustainable forestry today. If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to call or read through all that, just remember this: The most important thing you can do to be sustainable and earth-friendly when you’re buying furniture is to buy 100% American made. Learn why here.
Where Does Your Wooden Furniture Come From?
Ever wonder where your wooden furniture comes from? Seven years ago I founded Vermont Woods Studios because I didn’t like the answer to that question. And the answer is: if you didn’t purchase American made furniture, yours may well have originated in a beautiful tropical rainforest that was being plundered by illegal logging activities.
One Acre of Rainforest Disappears Every Second
I spent the first few years at Vermont Woods Studios trying to raise awareness about rainforest devastation and how it’s driven by the wood furniture and flooring industries. Did you know that the rainforest is disappearing at the rate of >1 acre per second? It sounds unbelievable and sensationalist, doesn’t it? I mean that’s over 4000 football fields every hour of every 24 hour day, 365 days/year. But it’s true and that fact is why we continue to work so hard to offer sustainable, locally made furniture at this Vermont furniture store.
You and I Have the Power to Save the Rainforest
Consumers of wood furniture, flooring and other forest products are the key to saving the rainforest. If you’re taking the trouble to learn about sustainable wooden furniture and how you as a consumer can be part of the global solution, we want to help. I’ll be writing a series of blogs over the next few months to provide some background information regarding the past, present and future of the rainforest and how we consumers can do our part to save it. Have any rainforest references or stories you’d like to share? Use the comment section below or join the conversation on our Facebook.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to our customers, staff, furniture makers, shippers and friends! We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support during this very challenging year at Vermont Woods Studios. We wish you all the best of health and happiness in the coming year. Check back often in 2013 to see the latest progress at Stonehurst, our future fine furniture showroom and nature center. Your encouragement and support are what make this step towards achieving our green mission possible!
Meet the Fab Five
In recruiting for six Vermont furniture sales and marketing positions this year, we reviewed over 400 resumes and interviewed dozens of excellent candidates. It’s been a challenging task to find the combination of skills and talent needed to run our online fine furniture gallery. So we feel extremely fortunate to have been able to hire the following superstars for our team: Heather Gantt, Loryn Dion, Heather Barrett, Liz Francese and Sean Henry.
Made in America Holiday Shopping in Brattleboro, Vermont
This photo was taken last week when we tasked the freshmen with providing photographic inspiration at the request of Diane Sawyer and the ABC World News crew. If you followed our activities at this time last year, you’ll remember that national news team spent a day filming our Made in America Holiday Shopping Challenge at our office and all around Vernon, Vermont. This year they were curious about our progress and wanted to learn about any new people we had hired to help grow this American made furniture business.
The Fab Five were most gracious in accommodating ABC’s request for photos and videos so I thought I’d share a few of them here on the blog.
Visit our Facebook to see more photos and our picks for 2012′s best Made in America Christmas gifts.
Act 250, Water and Building Permits Good to Go
Woohoo! After 5 months of working through engineering and architectural plans for our sustainable Vermont furniture showplace, we have finally been approved by the state of Vermont to begin renovations at Stonehurst. YAY! It’s really not so easy renovating an historic property for commercial use in Vermont but we think it’s worth the trouble.
Vermont requires three permits for this kind of endeavor: a detailed environmental assessment called the Act 250 permit, a water and wastewater permit and a building permit. Together with supporting documentation, the three permits create a stack of paper about a foot high, requiring an army of expert consultants to complete them. And we’re not done. There are many caveats and contingencies that will have to be satisfied as we progress. Ken and I never imagined this extreme when we purchased the building. It was our architect, Jeremy Coleman who walked us through the maze of bureaucracy and red tape and patiently explained the codes and our compliance options.
Vermont’s Complex Building Regulations
At first we were in disbelief at the overwhelming extent of requirements and expense to comply with Vermont’s complex codes. There are several government agencies to deal with and get approval from. Sometimes they are at odds with each other. But as we finally get to a point where our plans have been approved and renovations can begin I guess we are beginning to see some method to the madness.
Stonehurst is Worth the Trouble
After all Vermont is a very special place for nature lovers and we want it to always stay that way. Detailed environmental and building regulations help to ensure that. Like many Vermont businesses, Vermont Woods Studios is built on a green mission. Ours is forest conservation and environmental preservation, so (in spite of the high cost of regulations) I can’t imagine finding a more suitable home for it than Stonehurst in Vernon, Vermont.
Stay tuned for more updates on our sustainable furniture showroom over the next couple months and plan to visit us for an open house in the early summer. Till then keep updated by subscribing to this blog or visiting our Facebook.
See you at the Grand Opening (TBA)!
Who Writes Vermont’s Green Furniture Blog?
There’s a lot of creative energy at Vermont Woods Studios these days and happily we have a number of talented writers who are willing to share our daily goings on through this green furniture blog. Pictured above are Heather Barrett (left) of Brattleboro VT and Loryn Dion (right) of Northfield MA who work long and hard on many aspects of our Vermont furniture store, including keeping you up to date on the latest office shenanigans.
Holiday Hot Topic: Made in America Christmas Shopping Challenge
The photo above was taken Friday at our “Made in America” Secret Santa party where each of us gave and received American made Christmas gifts. It’s part of our Made in America Holiday Shopping Challenge (we figure with Americans spending about $586 Billion this holiday season, if all of those gifts were made in America it could generate 5.8 million jobs. OK we know that not every gift can or should be made in America, but still shopping “American made” can create a lot of jobs).
Not Just Red, White and Blue– Green Too!
Anyway, if you want to follow these two creative writers you’ll find their contributions right here every week. Besides keeping us up to date on American made Christmas gift ideas, Heather tends to blog about green furniture, Vermont Travel and all things adventurous and exciting in the Green Mountain state. Loryn’s been keeping her focus on Green decor and interior design but you never know what kind of provocative topics she might wander off into.
To stay in touch with Heather and Loryn, subscribe to this blog on the top right or join their conversations on Facebook. And keep a look out for insider secrets from their newly recruited accomplice, Liz Francese who’ll be taking you on occasional trips behind the veil at Vermont Woods Studios Sales and Customer Service. More about Liz coming soon!
Looking for creative Christmas gift idea? Here’s a stocking stuffer for the person who has everything. Skip the Charlie Brown tie or paisley pashmina and give the gift of a food donation in honor of your hard-to-shop-for friend or family member. They’ll be happy (and surprised) to know that your gift to them is helping the 1 in 5 children in Vermont who experience hunger on a regular basis. It’s hard to believe that hunger is a daily reality for so many Vermonters but according to Hunger Free Vermont, 13% of all VT households are food insecure with 85,000 Vermonters unable to afford enough nutritious food.
In Brattleboro, you can find several locations and agencies taking food donations during the holidays. Perhaps the easiest way to donate is to visit any grocery store (like the Brattleboro CoOp shown above) where you’ll find donation baskets at the front of the store. If you don’t want to leave Vernon, stop by our offices at Vermont Woods Studios and drop off your food donation here. We’ll be taking all donations to the Brattleboro Food CoOp on Friday, December 21.
Not in Brattleboro or Vernon, VT? Elsewhere in VT you can find out who’s taking food donations on the Vermont FoodBank website with this nifty Food Shelf Locator. And Feeding America has a zip code locator on their website to help you find locations all across the country that are accepting food donations. Merry Christmas! Let’s hope no one in our communities has to go hungry this holiday season.
Veterans Day is a time to pause and thank those who served or are serving in our armed forces and support the military. As part of the celebration, Vermont Woods Studios ran a four day benefit sale to raise money to donate to the Adopt a Soldier Program. With $20 of every sale being collected, we are proud to announce that we were able to raise $350 towards adopting Sgt. Peter A. Avila’s family.
Sgt. Peter A. Avila is currently serving with the 25th Infantry Division, 3rd Brigade, D Company located in Hawaii. Peter began in the military as a Marine and now is a US Army Soldier. He has served four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and will soon be deployed again. Peter’s wife Crystal is suffering from kidney disease and debilitating complications. Peter and Crystal’s two little boys (Kenan and Kaleb) and a baby girl (Deanna) are growing up without their father’s presence nor do they have family members living close enough to assist in times of need. Many other military families are in similar circumstances, serving their country without complaint.
The Adopt A Soldier website provides easy ways to help, such as:
- Donate a holiday gift or phone card
- Send letters to our troops
- Send a care package to a soldier or his/her family
- Make a financial donation to a soldier’s family
Thank you to everyone who purchased from us or donated to the Adopt a Soldier Program during Veterans Day this year. And a big thank you to all of our military personnel! That staff at Vermont Woods Studios appreciates the sacrifices and dedication of our service men and women.
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
~John Fitzgerald Kennedy
This year has flown by so fast at Vermont Woods Studios, it’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is here already. It’s a good time to slow down and reflect on all the blessings we’ve received this year. Our small furniture business and our green mission have been able to move forward by leaps and bounds, in spite of a few setbacks. We are grateful to all our customers, our furniture makers, shippers, vendors, family, friends and neighbors. We’re grateful to Elaine and Bill Ellis who sold us the Stonehurst property, our future fine furniture showroom. But most of all, we are grateful to our wonderful staff who have poured their hearts and minds in to this ambitious venture, amidst the extraordinary challenges a small business faces during these economic times. They make it all happen, they give it their very best and they’re pretty fun to work with too!
So on behalf of this fine Green Team at Vermont’s Online Fine Furniture Store, Ken and I wish you and your family a very happy and relaxing Thanksgiving.
Although I’m not going to encourage shopping on Thanksgiving Day, I do feel like I should tell you that our Black Friday sale has started. No rush though. It runs through today, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Shop till you Drop Sunday and Cyber Monday.