Our customers usually come to Vermont Woods Studios with a pretty clear understanding of the benefits of natural, organic, eco-friendly furniture. They're looking to help protect the environment. They want to know that the wood used in their furniture has been sustainably harvested from forests that are going to be healthy and intact for many more generations. Customers are also looking to protect their families from toxic substances in furniture finishes that could off-gas and cause respiratory problems.
But did you know that choosing natural, eco-furniture also reduces your carbon footprint and helps reduce global warming? It's true. Scientists attribute about 20% of global warming to deforestation, particularly that of tropical rainforests, such as the Amazon.
If you're buying imported wood furniture, chances are it was made from illegally harvested wood that was clear cut from the rainforest. Because there is such widespread counterfeiting of logging documents, consumers are often unwittingly contributing to global warming and the eventual loss of iconic tree species such as mahogany and teak when purchasing imported furniture.
Vermont Woods Studios uses only sustainably harvested American wood in the crafting of our furniture. Much of it comes from our own Green Mountain Forest. We support the Forest Stewardship Council, the Nature Conservancy and other non-profits working to preserve the rainforest and stop global warming. When you purchase organic wood furniture from our store you can rest assured that both your furniture and the forest from where it originates will be around for generations to come.
By Dennis Shanoff
Making its debut in 2002 and then biannually since 2005 is the US Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. This competition challenges 20 collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar powered, energy efficient homes that are cost effective, functional, and attractive. The winning team will have successfully blended affordability, consumer appeal and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. The fifth event will take place Sept. 23–Oct. 2, 2011 at the National Mall’s West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. and is open to the public, free of charge.
Customers and fans of Vermont Woods Studios are aware of our environmental and social mission and our community of eco friendly furniture makers that are dedicated not only to beauty and quality in our craft, but also to the preservation of our natural environment. So you can imagine our excitement to be a part of the project and support the Vermont Solar Decathlon team by contributing a bed!
You see Vermont’s own Middlebury College is participating in the Solar Decathlon so when one of the schools team members reached out to us for a furniture donation we were thrilled to to no end to be part of such an important “Green Mission” event. This is such a great way to raise awareness about solar energy and sustainable lifestyles. Middlebury SD team member Casey Peterson had contacted us during the team’s research for interior furnishings. Part of the team’s mission is trying to source as much of the building materials and furnishings from Vermont as possible (including harvesting timber from the Middlebury College grounds). And according to Casey what really resonated with the Middlebury design team was not only the quality of work at Vermont Woods Studios but the sustainable production processes used by our workshops. The team chose our Cherry Moon Dovetail Platform Bed to be the centerpiece of the Master Bedroom and we couldn’t agree more with their choice.
The Middlebury team is now putting the finishing touches to the home and at some point will have to disassemble it and transport it down to the National Malls West Potomac Park in Washington DC. During the event, thousands of people will be guided through the 20 homes on display, and the houses will be judged on categories like energy use and home entertainment. And while no team really loses in this competition you know who we are rooting for!
Are you wondering what happens to these Solar Decathlon houses after the competition? Since the first event in 2002, 72 houses have competed in the Solar Decathlon. These houses are now located throughout the United States and around the world and continue to serve numerous education, conservation and community-oriented functions.
There is a wealth of information about this great event and its history at the US Department of Energy website. And if you are rooting for or would like to learn more about the Middlebury team they have put together a great site that chronicles their project and gives insight to the team and their mission. Go Team Middlebury!
I always cringe when seeing myself in a video but Manjula has insisted we post this one on the Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture homepage. It's a segment we did for The Weather Channel during the summer and it's about the link between your furniture and the environment– and the weather of course. Specifically it talks about the rainforest, how it's disappearing at a rate of 1 football field/second and the fact that it's being clear-cut to supply timber for cheap furniture imports.
If you're someone who drives an eco-friendly fuel efficient car, you may be interested to know that your choice of furniture has a bigger impact on the environment than your car choice. That's because deforestation is repsonsible for a greater contribution to air pollution and global warming than the entire transportation sector.
Take a minute to watch our nationally broadcast video segment about American made furniture crafted from sustainably harvested wood and let us know what you think. We'll look forward to hearing from you!
We’ve been participating in the World Wildlife Fund‘s Earth Hour project for the last couple years and it’s been a lot of fun. Have you heard of Earth Hour? It’s a time when the whole world comes together to make a statement and make a difference in the fight against global climate change. We’ll all turn our lights off for an hour on March 27, 2010 from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm, local time.
Last year nearly one billion people participated by turning their lights off in their homes and small businesses all around the world. In the USA, National Monuments including Mount Rushmore, along with other American icons like the Empire State Building, the Las Vegas Strip and the Golden Gate Bridge and many more joined in.
Please mark your calendar and join us to turn your lights out on March 27, 2010 from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm. It’s a great time for a candlelight dinner or perhaps a little star-gazing. Tenille Bonoguore has 60 suggestions for cool things to do when the lights are out. If you send us photos of what you did during Earth Hour, we’ll send you a $25 gift certificate for eco-friendly furniture at Vermont Woods Studios!
Are you spending more time at home these days and less time going out? If you're burrowing in for the winter, maybe now is the time to curl up on the couch, take a look at the furniture in your nest and think about where it actually came from. See how well it meets this totally biased, arbitrary and unscientific test.
If your furniture is: Give Yourself
- Made in America: 10 points
- Made of local woods and materials: 30 points
- Handmade by local craftspeople: 40 points
- Has non-toxic finish: 5 points
- Made of sustainably harvested woods and/or other organic materials: 10 points
- Imported from China, Vietnam, India or other third world countries: -100 points
- Made from illegally harvested rainforest woods like mahogany, teak: -100 points
What was your score? It's hard to even know because chances are there is nothing on the furniture to provide this information. It's a good bet, however that if you didn't go out of your way to buy American and you don't know where it came from, your furniture is probably imported, made from illegally harvested rainforest wood and crafted by slave laborers making pennies per hour.
We're trying to encourage consumers to buy American furniture, that's handcrafted here in the USA from local sustainably harvested woods, by people making a livable wage. Oddly enough, the price is roughly the same either way.
Check out our American made furniture at Vermont Woods Studios and compare.
As wood furniture makers, we know that in order to keep our craft alive, we've got to be active participants in sustainable forestry. We support non-profit groups like The Vermont Center for EcoStudios that work in conserving Vermont's forests and wildlife. We're also concerned with rainforest conservation which is a major part of our mission at Vermont Woods Studios.
Soon we'll be working with the Eco Preservation Society, a non-profit dedicated to wildlife conservation and reforestation in Costa Rica and elsewhere around the globe.
We're excited about this partnership and will write more in the following days. Eco Preservation Society shares our passion for conservation, education and reforestation. We admire the work they're doing and are looking forward to visiting and volunteering at one of their research and reforestation projects in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.
These are Costa Rican squirrel monkeys or mono titi. They are highly endangered due to habitat destruction and the Eco Preservation Society is trying to save the species. We'll be volunteering on the project and will write about it when we're down there. Stay tuned!
It's been about three years since we at Vermont Woods Studios joined a handful of other green furniture companies to initiate the development of a non-profit, standard-setting group called the Sustainable Furniture Council, SFC.
Since that day, what a success story the SFC has been in educating members and consumers about the characteristics and benefits of green, eco-friendly, environmentally safe furniture.
SFC's latest brainchild is the DesigninGreen Leadership team which consists of pre-eminent designers like Kathy Ireland, Alexander Julian, Vladimir Kagan and Tom Felicia (from Dress My Nest). Find more about this sustainable furniture project at the SFC website.