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.
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
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
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!
It's been a long time coming and we've tried to be quiet about it… for worry about everything that can go wrong in a real estate transaction.
But we're now in the final countdown– just 3 more days until we close on the purchase of Stonehurst, an historic circa 1800 farmhouse and former ski area located just up the road in Vernon, Vermont.
Stonehurst will be our new showroom, office space and nature center. It's a traditional Vermont style farmhouse that sits on 109 acres of forest and meadow, overlooking the Connecticut River. Not your typical furniture store!
We're excited that we'll finally be able to show customers a wide selection of all the custom and made to order furniture our Vermont craftspeople have to offer. Even more exciting for me personally is the idea of conserving the property and providing eco-conscious customers a chance to see and experience the land where their furniture comes from.
Check in after we settle on Stonehurst this Thursday for more details on our plans to make it a destination shopping experience.
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.
L to R photo credits: Reststart Forestry, Allard Lumber, Wayne Fawbush, Ellen Kahler, Copeland Furniture, via the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund.
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
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
- 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
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.
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
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.
This tree house looks a lot different from the one in my back yard. Architect Scott Anderson of The Anderson Studio of Architecture and Design
created a zen-like dwelling incorporating a live-edge side table, root-ball bases on the coffee table and natural finishe into the green decor.
In browsing through my weekly Houzz Tour I came across this incredible tree house designed by architect Scott Anderson of The Anderson Studio of Architecture and Design. Fellow green furniture fans, check it out!
I send my thanks to blogger Becky Harris for featuring the South Carolina, Kiawah Island retreat on Houzz, the world's latest and greatest interior design website.
I love the tree house's clean, green, Zen-like decor. "The great room feels like some sort of natural habitat; besides the great views, a live-edge side table, root-ball bases on the coffee table, plants, natural finishes and plenty of open space connect the space to its surroundings" notes Becky.
As live edge furniture makers and natural finish afficionados we stood up and cheered when we saw this green respite in the trees of Kiawah Island. Congratulations to Anderson Studio for achieving the ultimate in tree house decor!
And speaking of tree houses, I couldn't close without mentioning James Roth, cofounder of The Treehouse Guys in Warren, Vermont. Roth and his company have built 34 wheelchair accessible treehouses in private camps and public parks across the country. Have a look at some of Roths amazing works of art that let everyone, "no matter their physical ability, experience the joy of what it’s like to ‘climb’ and be at the top of a treehouse.”
green practices start with using sustainably harvested North American lumber sourced locally and regionally.
Vermont's Lyndon Furniture is one of America's most admired eco-friendly furniture companies. We've been partnering with Lyndon for many years and often customers ask "just what is it that makes Lyndon Furniture so green?"
We put the question to our friend Dave Allard, Lyndon's owner and founder and below are a few of his comments. We'll follow up with more tomorrow.
Use of Local Woods – At Lyndon Furniture "green" practices start with our Purchasing Policy. We purchase wood through responsible local partners, thus minimizing transport distances and helping our regional economy. This policy greatly reduces fuel usage and carbon emissions.
Sustainably Harvested Woods – The hardwoods we utilize at Lyndon are grown and harvested within a 500 mile radius of our shop. Some are even harvested less than two miles away, from my own property. This is unlike furniture imported from China or other places where the lumber might be sourced from thousands of miles away in Africa or South America, thus consuming great amounts of energy in transit before timber is even received for furniture production.
Green Technology – At Lyndon Furniture we utilize advanced technology and responsible manufacturing to maximize yield and reduce the amount of wood waste, making certain that all wood processing by-products are put to some use. For example, our sawdust is used by local farmers for animal bedding.
Pretty cool, right? In Vermont nothing goes to waste. It's part of our Yankee culture of ingenuity, innovation and oh yeah…thrift. In Vermont "green furniture" is not a new promotional slogan. Furniture making has always been this way up here and I'd guess it always will be. Vermonters just aren't very responsive to passing trends. It's more about quality, integrity and sustainability in VT.
We'll post a few other green characteristics of Lyndon's eco friendly furniture tomorrow.
Our friends at Lyndon Furniture in Lyndonville, Vermont have come out with a number of exciting new solid hardwood furniture designs this year.
One of my favorites is this Vermont Modern Pedestal Table. Pretty charming, don't you think? I love the quiet curves and contemporary cottage styling.
It's definitely a high-end piece, handmade of eco-friendly, solid organic wood: natural cherry, walnut, oak or maple. And it works well in either a formal dining room or casual kitchen.
Here's another version of it: the rectangular table. The shape of the table top can be customized in round, square, rectangular or oval.
So many possibilities! You can customize online or give Shannon a call. And Lyndon Furniture is furniture you can feel good about. It's eco-friendly, 100% made in America and backed by a lifetime guarantee.
Many thanks to all our customers, craftspeople, suppliers and friends who have supported our work at Vermont Woods Studios Furniture this year. With your help we have managed to surpass our sales goals this year while still maintaining our high standards for quality and customer service. We're pretty proud of that, especially during a time of such economic distress.
We'll take a minute or two to celebrate and revel but for the most part we are focused on the future and there's no time to lose. 2011 brings many new challenges as we continue to pursue our environmental mission by expanding our sustainable Vermont made furniture lines and adding a whole new line of eco-friendly recycled outdoor furniture to our store.
We hope you'll continue to follow our work and help us spread the news about the beautiful heirloom quality, solid wood furniture that Vermont is famous for. Vermont truly is the Fine Furniture Capitol of America and now this authentic craftsmanship is finally available online and across the country– and indeed the world. That's worth celebrating!
Wishing you all the best of good health, happiness and prosperity in 2011,
Peggy, Ken, Kendall, Riley, Manjula, Rebecca, Douglas, Dennis and our whole family of craftspeople at Vermont Woods Studios Furniture.
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 writing about the fact that up to 90% of the wood furniture you see in America today is imported and furthermore, it is likely that the wood was harvested illegally from one of the world's rapidly disappearing rainforests. Well, I guess others are beginning to write about that too and happily, we're seeing more and more customers asking about where our wood furniture comes from.
It's not just the environment and the fact that American made furniture is superior in terms of quality that customers are concerned with. Another part of this equation is that Americans want to support sustainable communities and help provide American jobs. Over the last 30 years, tens of thousands of jobs for highly skilled furniture makers have been moved overseas, as so called "American furniture companies" have moved their manufacturing operations to China, Vietnam and other third world countries. In the process, many skilled workers (and their families) in North Carolina, Maine and Vermont have suffered job loss and their once-vibrant communities have turned into ghost towns.
At Vermont Woods Studios Furniture and other American furniture companies like Moosehead Furniture in Maine we're working to restore those high quality jobs and help maintain the tradition of fine handcrafted furniture in America. You can help us by becoming a fan on facebook or following us on Twitter. Thanks!
We've been working on this for 5 years and now it's official: Vermont Woods Studios Furniture has gone paperless. OK, we've never been a particularly big paper consumer in the first place and the project was really more about efficiency than anything. But it feels good because it's another step in the direction of fulfilling our green mission of forest conservation.
So now all of our customer files are housed (and backed-up) electronically and we no longer provide paper catalogs. Instead our products are all on our website now, except for a continuous stream of new products that are waiting for one of us to put them up.
We do still have a stash of beautiful hard copy brochures though, so give us a call if you like to have something in hand.
If you're interested in forest conservation, visit the ForestEthics.org website. Today they published Green Grades 2010: A Report Card on the Paper Practices of the Office Supply Sector, an interesting report on how your favorite office supply stores are doing conservation-wise. Check it out!