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!
I 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.
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.
Did you know there is a link between the wood furniture you buy and global warming? Some folks at TWC do and they've invited us to be their guest on The Weather Channel's new live show, The Lightning Rod with meteorologist Mark Elliot.
So what's the link between furniture and the weather? OK, it's a little tricky but stay with me. Up to 90% of the furniture we buy in the USA is imported (mainly from Asia) and made from wood that has been illegally clear-cut from the world's rapidly disappearing rainforests.
Rainforests play a role in regulating global weather by producing oxygen, giving off carbon dioxide, and regulating temperature and moisture. The oceans (algae) are the other major contributor to oxygen production but as they become increasingly polluted, our dependence upon the rainforests for weather modulation increases.
As rainforests are destroyed for timber that feeds the global market for cheap furniture, they are less able to regulate the weather. Purchasing furniture made from rainforest woods like teak, brazilian cherry and mahogany supports this illegal rainforest timber trade. The Washington Post talks about this in more detail in an article, "Corruption Stains the Timber Trade".
Choosing American made furniture and flooring built with sustainably harvested American wood decreases the demand for rainforest woods and helps decrease the rate of rainforest destruction, thereby enabling the rainforest to do its job of regulating global weather. So that's the link. We're excited to talk about it more with Mark and the crew of The Lightning Rod. Watch us live at 10pm EST on Monday July 19th to see how it goes!
Many thanks to Trish Ragsdale, The Lightning Rod producer for all her help in planning and arranging for our appearance on the show.
Did you know that North American hardwoods are one of the most environmentally sound
materials available today? The site explains how American hardwoods like cherry, maple, oak and walnut are harvested sustainably, usually by selecting each tree individually such that the character of the forest is preserved. I was surprised to learn that over the past 50 years the volume of hardwood in American forests has
nearly doubled. Wow, how's that for sustainable forestry? It's just the opposite of what's happening in the rainforests of South America and Southeast Asia which are being clearcut at a rate of one football field per second, with no reforestation occurring.
Another cool fact is that wood products have a low carbon impact and what is called a low level of embodied energy compared to other building materials. The
amount of energy necessary for producing wood products is low compared
to other building products made from other materials like steel,
aluminum, glass and brick.
All interesting stuff to know but at Vermont Woods Studios we realize our furniture has to be more than just a sustainable or intellectual or emotional choice. We're obsessed with making it the most beautiful and affordable choice as well.
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.