Vermont Woods Studios Handmade Furniture

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Sustainable Furniture: What is FSC Certification?

August 26th, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh

About_fsc

If FSC certification is important to you, check out Copeland's Harbor Island Furniture collection. It's handmade here in VT with FSC certified maple from local Vermont trees.

Customers often come to us because they're shopping for eco-friendly, sustainable furniture.  At Vermont Woods Studios, our mission is founded on environmental and social responsibility so we find ourselves discussing FSC certification and other aspects of sustainable furniture almost every day.  Here are some of the basics on FSC:

What is FSC?
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent,
non-governmental, not-for-profit organization that promotes responsible
management of the world's forests. It is widely regarded as one of the
most important initiatives to promote responsible forest management
worldwide. It places a special emphasis on rainforest conservation.

Fsc-chain-custody

L to R photo credits: Reststart Forestry, Allard Lumber, Wayne Fawbush, Ellen Kahler, Copeland Furniture, via the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund.

Launched
by environmental groups in 1993 FSC manages an international standard
for well-managed forests and a process for tracking and certifying wood
furniture, flooring and other products derived from those forests. FSC
addresses numerous aspects of sustainable forestry, including ecological
issues, old-growth forests, plantations, restoration, biodiversity,
native habitat, indigenous people's rights, and sound management for
timber production.

The FSC label provides certification of the
chain of links between the forest where a product originates and the
consumer. For example with wood furniture, each of the following
businesses involved in transforming a tree into a piece of furniture
would have to be FSC certified in order for that furniture piece to be
FSC certified.  It's called the "chain of custody":

  • Certified forest owner- Must employ a professional forester and
    develop a forest management plan which meets stringent ecological and
    social criteria
  • Certified logger and sawyer
  • Certified lumber wholesaler
  • Certified lumber retailer
  • Certified furniture maker
  • Certified furniture retailer

Benefits of FSC Certification
In my opinion, FSC provides the most rigorous certification process
available. It's widely considered the gold standard in sustainable
forestry and has moved the world forward in many areas of rainforest
conservation.


Copeland-fsc-harbor-island

Copeland's Harbor Island Furniture collection is handmade here in VT with FSC certified maple wood from local Vermont trees.

Challenges for FSC As you might expect FSC
certification involves extensive rule-making and auditing that can be
quite expensive (and controversial) to implement. It can add up to 50% to the price of the
end product although the hope is that this cost will decrease as FSC
certification becomes more mainstream. Still many small manufacturers
are unable to assume this cost and are thus not FSC certified.

 

Another
challenge for FSC is the rampant counterfeiting of FSC documentation
accompanying raw lumber that is being illegally clear cut from the
Amazon and other endangered areas of rainforest. Also FSC has been
criticized for being too lenient,
particularly with their policy allowing limited old growth logging.

Should You Buy Only FSC Certified Furniture?
Authentic FSC certified furniture is a responsible choice for the
eco-conscious homeowner. However there are many genuinely responsible,
green, eco-friendly furniture makers who are not FSC certified due to
the red tape and expense involved. Conversely there is a large market of fake, FSC
labeled furniture that comes to us through layers of corruption
and counterfeiting.

In Vermont, many of us who were certified by FSC for years have been moving away from it lately.  Not because we don't support the ideal, but because we have so many other systems in place that effectively ensure our furniture is authentically green and sustainable.  At Vermont Woods Studios not all of our furniture is FSC certified, but it is all made from sustainably harvested wood from local and regional forests. 

If FSC certification is important to you, check out Copeland's Harbor Island Furniture collection.  It's handmade here in VT with FSC certified maple from local Vermont trees.  And let us know on our Facebook or in the comments section below how you feel about FSC certification.

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Vermont Crafts Council’s Open Studios Tour: Memorial Day Weekend

May 23rd, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh

 

Vt-open-studio-crafts

The Vermont Crafts Council is celebrating it's 20th anniversary of Open Studio Tours this Memorial Day weekend. Find maps and meet Vermont's artisans in their studios.

What are you doing this weekend for Memorial Day? If you're looking for something fun and fascinating come to the Green Mountain State for The Vermont Crafts Council's 20th Open Studios Tour.

The weather is supposed to be beautiful this weekend so it's the perfect opportunity to wander around rural Vermont and duck into hidden nooks and crannies where our state's best artists are practicing their craft.

If you love handmade furniture like we do, check out the Dorset area of Southern Vermont where you'll find some of our favorite furniture makers, including Steve Holman, Dan Mosheim, Bob Gasperetti and Bill Laberge.  You'll be awed by their work, I promise.  And this weekend is the best time to purchase handmade furniture and crafts because the artisans have all their samples on sale, sometimes at up to 50% off regular prices.

Open Studio maps and directions are available online and at Vermont's welcome center's located along I 89 and I 91.  While you're there, check out the Vermont Woods Studios' furniture displays at the Welcome Centers and pick up our brochure.

Our own small showroom in Vernon, VT is open this Saturday from 9am-5pm but we close on Sunday and Monday to allow our staff to go out and enjoy the Open Studio Tour.  We hope to see you there!

 

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Sustainable Furniture Council (SFC): Happy 5th Birthday!

October 23rd, 2011 by Peggy Farabaugh

Gerry-cooklin-susan-inglisI remember travelling from Vermont to High Point, North Carolina exactly 5 years ago to meet with Gerry Cooklin of South Cone Furniture, Susan Inglis of "From The Mountain" (who is now the Executive Director of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, SFC) and a handful of visionaries.  Our mission was to promote forest conservation in the furniture industry.  That was Year 1 for Vermont Woods Studios Sustainable Furniture and the trip was instrumental in charting a course for our company.

 

 

Sfc-founding-member

 

I had read alot about Gerry and Susan before I attended the meeting.  To me they were larger than life– and they still are.  Five years ago though, they were the first in the industry to talk about the fact that Americans were unwittingly contributing to the decimation of endangered species of the forest (including all the big cats and great apes) by purchasing cheap imported furniture made from timber that was being clear cut from the worlds rainforests.  Their pitch was for the formation of a furniture industry group that would promote healthy, sustainable practices particularly with regard to the use of responsibly harvested wood. 

Since that meeting 5 years ago, Susan and Gerry have been successful in recruiting some 400 companies to join the SFC.  There is much work left to be done, but these two champions of the forest are inspirational leaders in the green furniture movement and we are grateful for their relentless pursuit of sustainability in our industry.

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