What is Sustainable Interior Design

 

Interior design is not a new concept. For decades, people have been making a living by creating works of art with furniture and accessories as their palette and empty rooms as their canvas. It is probably not a surprise that fashioning the perfect design for the inside of your home is crucial to how you feel and react in your environment. Interior design is all about aesthetics. It’s about taking items that are visually appealing and combining them with your personality to create something unique and personal to you.

With consumers becoming more conscious about their impacts on our environment, it is no shock that people are starting to ask for green, eco-friendly furniture and building materials for their homes. Interior designers are capitalizing on this trend by offering environmentally friendly alternatives when creating a design for a client’s home. Now this begs the question, what exactly does sustainable interior design mean?

Basically, the difference between interior design and sustainable interior design is the difference between beauty and beliefs and how much they mean to you. Sustainable (or green) interior design can probably be broken down into 4 major components:

  • *Air Quality
  • *Energy Efficiency
  • *Building Materials and the Three R’s (Recycling, Re-purposing, Reusing)
  • *Economic Impact

Air quality is very important to interior design. The biggest decision a designer has to make is choosing pieces that are free of chemicals that can make people sick or pollute our environment. This usually means watching out for volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) that can be found in paints, primers, glues, ink and cleaning products. Luckily, you can now buy furniture that uses glues and finishes that contain little or no VOC’s.

The area of energy saving interior design techniques is very broad. It can mean anything from choosing light bulbs that use less energy (like LED) to choosing products that are produced in America to reduce the energy it takes to ship them.

We’ve all heard some form of “The Three R’s”. Now-a-days it feels like there are many “r” words related to conservation. When it comes to green interior design, it is important to remember to recycle, re-purpose and reuse. Choose materials that have been recycled, like furniture made from recycled plastic. Remember that there are many products that are made by re-purposing old materials, like Reclaimed Barnwood Furniture. And always keep in mind things that can be used again before you toss them out.

When you purchase items without checking where they are sourced from, you risk supporting imported goods, rather than supporting the local American worker. Always research where your furniture and building materials come from and support American jobs and our local economy by buying American-made.

Creating a sustainable interior design concept doesn’t mean that you have to be 100% green, but you can make smart choices that will benefit the environment in the long run. You also don’t have to overhaul your entire home to start a green interior design. Make small changes around your home, like opting for new cleaning products or donating that department store furniture piece and trade it in for one made in America that has little to no VOC’s. These little changes will someday make a big difference.

If you are an interior designer, check out the discounts we can offer on our Vermont-made fine furniture.

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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This cute little squirrel visits Heather B. everyday!

At Vermont Woods Studios we all have a special place in our hearts for animals.  From our own cats, dogs, snakes and other pets, to the familiar faces of chipmunks, squirrels and birds that share our backyards to the exotic and elusive endangered species we read about or catch a glimpse of in Vermont's forests.

 

So today on National Wildlife Day we'll be thinking about our furry, slimy, feathered and scaley friends and remembering that part of our mission is to conserve forest habitat for them.  In fact, one of the statistics that urged me to form Vermont Woods Studios is that half of the world's animal species live in the rainforest which is disappearing at an alarming rate– we're losing over 100 rainforest species every day.  It's something we're trying to help change by raising awareness about where your furniture comes from.

 

 

 

 

 

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Vermont Woods Studios participated in VINS' "adopt a raptor" program. Welcome to the Woods, Woody!

Here at home in Vermont
we support Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS), a non-profit located in
Quechee. VINS aims to "motivate individuals and communities to care for
the environment though education, research and aviation wildlife
rehabilitation." VINS invites guests of all ages to visit and learn about
the most recent environmental science information. More than 40,000 people
through out New England go to VINS for environmental
education programs.

While visiting VINS, guests will see some of New
England's most interesting avian wildlife. Humans head to the doctors when we are sick, wild animals seek
professional care at VINS. The Nature
Center at VINS has licensed
wildlife rehabilitators who heal wildlife and raise the orphaned.  The ultimate goal is to return the wildlife
back to their natural homes; however, if they do not feel that an animal can
safely be returned, the animal will stay with VINS.

Because VINS is a non-profit they rely on the help of the
general public to keep their facilities running.  They have created an "adopt a
raptor
" program as a fun way for people to help fund their rehabilitation
program. Vermont Woods Studios has participated in this program by adopting a Gray
Phase Eastern Screech Owl, whom we have named Woody.  Woody's age is unknown; however, it arrived
at VINS in May of 2004 because of a right shoulder injury caused by a collision
with a vehicle.  In the VINS education
programs, they teach visitors that they do not name the owls to stress the fact
that they are not pets, they are wild animals. We have decided that because we
have only symbolically adopted Woody, that it is okay to have named it (we
don't know Woody's sex). By adoption Woody, we helped provide food and
specialized care.

The Adopt a Raptor Program is a fun way to support VINS and
the raptors they care for.  It is also a
great, feel good gift for an animal lover like us!

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.

 

I started Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture almost 7 years ago as part of a mission to help with rainforest conservation. We promote American made furniture that’s built with local, sustainably harvested wood as an alternative to imported furniture made with illegal tropical timber, clear cut from the world’s rapidly disappearing rainforests.

 

But a couple years ago when we were searching for an eco-friendly line of outdoor furniture, I began to learn that furniture is such a HUGE commodity it’s manufacture affects ocean conservation as well as forest conservation.  Often when rainforests are clear-cut for timber, they are converted into plantations that require massive amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. The whole process results in soil erosion, run-off, ocean pollution and coral bleaching.

This knowledge is what led us to begin carrying our POLYWOOD outdoor furniture collection which is made from recycled plastic beverage containers, rather than rainforest woods like teak or mahogany.   I know this is a convoluted pathyway, but that’s what reminded me of today’s designation as World Oceans Day.

There’s no denying it– we are destroying the oceans and we need to take action to restore them.  90% of the big fish are gone and many of the fish caught today never even have the chance to reproduce. The average size of the remaining big fish has been cut in half in the last 50 years (the average weight of a swordfish caught today is 90 lbs., down from 266 lbs. in 1960).

The Green Prophet has some great suggestions if you’re wondering what you can do to help restore the oceans.  In addition to avoiding the purchase of furniture made from tropical woods (like teak, mahogany, ipe and eucalyptus) you can also help by eating only sustainably harvested fish and learning more about ocean conservation.

OK, thanks for reading all this.  Now time to head out to the beach for a swim!

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.

 

Wwf-living-planet-2012

World Wildlife Fund's landmark Living Planet Report underscores our mission of Forest Conservation at Vermont Woods Studios

 

Our friends at the World Wildlife Fund have just published their bi-annual Living Planet Report.  It's a landmark study of our planet in terms of the health of our forests, rivers and oceans.

 

The results aren't pretty.  Here are some of the facts they highlighted about our environment:

 

  • We’ve lost 30 to 70 percent of our wildlife since 1970. That's an average.  The tropics have lost 50 percent of their animals over the last 40 years, and tropical freshwater ecosystems have lost about 70 percent. The wild tiger population has suffered a 70 per cent decline in populations

 

  • We are living as if we have the resources of an extra planet at our disposal. We’re using 50 percent more resources than the Earth can provide sustainably

 

  • The U.S. has the fifth largest ecological footprint in terms of the amount of resources each person annually consumes. We rank only behind Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and Denmark in the global rankings of the Ecological Footprint

 

These are just a few of the statistics noted in the 80 page report.  But the good news is that it's not too late to save wildlife species and reverse unsustainable trends. 

 

Green commerce plays a fundamental role in this as do you and I.  The choices we make about our purchases will determine our planet's future. 

 

Change-the-world

Excerpts from World Wildlife Fund's landmark Living Planet Report

 

 

 

Learn more about what Vermont Woods Studios is doing to promote forest conservation and preservation of endangered species like the Sumatran tiger. Join us in our green mission!

 

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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Today the World Wildlife Fund reports that after losing nearly 70 per cent of its forest habitat and half its population in one generation, the Sumatran elephant is heading for imminent extinction due to deforestation and habitat loss.

These elephants are not alone.  According to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, 3-5 species become extinct every hour of every day. That’s up to 45,000 species every year!

What we’re doing at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture is trying to raise awareness about the how your choices as a consumer directly affect the extinction of endangered species like the Sumatran elephant.  If you can avoid buying imported forest products, especially wood furniture and flooring (if it’s not clearly labelled Made in America–pretty much any furniture you’ll find at Home Depot, Walmart, Bob’s, Lowe’s or other big box stores is imported) you’ll be doing your part to lessen global deforestation and destruction of the habitat these elephants live in.

What else are we doing?

We support a number of projects to save endangered species.  Here’s one I was pretty excited about last week:  when I was on the Vernon Selectboard a few years back, our town partnered with the Vermont Division of Fish and Wildlife DFW to protect habitat and save the critically endangered spotted turtle from extinction.  Last week we were able to celebrate our work.  It’s 6 or 7 years later, but finally through a long process, the turtle habitat is being cared for and hopefully we’ll start to see their population come back.

How about you?  Tell us what you’re doing in the comments below or on our Vermont Furniture 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.