Kendall posted a new webpage the other day on the link between your furniture, rainforest conservation and a greener, more sustainable world. It's why we do what we do at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Wood Furniture.
Sometimes I feel like a nutcase– living in Vermont and talking about rainforest conservation all the time. But I can't help it. It's one of the Top 3 environmental problems of our time, yet few people seem to know about it.
Check out these rainforest facts and let me know if you too see this as a matter of great urgency.
1.5 acres of rainforest are lost every second (that equates to 50 million acres a year: an area the size of England, Wales and Scotland combined)
- 54 of the world's 193 countries have lost 90 percent or more of their forest cover. Rainforests that once covered 14% of the earth's land surface now cover a mere 6% and experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years.
- Nearly half of the world's species of plants, animals and microorganisms will be destroyed or severely threatened over the next 25 years due to rainforest deforestation.
- We are losing approximately 137 plant, animal and insect species every single day due to rainforest deforestation. That equates to 50,000 species a year.
- As the rainforest species disappear, so do many possible cures for life-threatening diseases. Currently, 121 prescription drugs sold worldwide come from plant-derived sources. While 25% of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest ingredients, less that 1% of these tropical trees and plants have been tested by scientists.
- Most rainforests are cleared by chainsaws, bulldozers and fires for its timber value and then are followed by farming and ranching operations
- There were an estimated ten million Indians living in the Amazonian Rainforest five centuries ago. Today there are less than 200,000.
- In Brazil alone, European colonists have destroyed more than 90 indigenous tribes since the 1900's. With them have gone centuries of accumulated knowledge of the medicinal value of rainforest species. As their homelands continue to be destroyed by deforestation, rainforest peoples are also disappearing.
- In Indonesia, the current aggressive rate of logging could eradicate native forests within only 10 years. Unlike our temperate forests in Vermont for example, rainforests do not regenerate after they are destroyed. Once gone, they are gone forever and along with them the wonderful diversity of plants and wildlife that inhabit them.
If you've managed to read this far, you rock! Leave a comment below or check in with us now and then on Facebook to see what we're doing to to help replant the rainforest with our Plant a Billion Trees project. Join us and together we can make a difference!
A couple weeks ago I attempted to work through a definition of "fine wood furniture" at the request of one of our customers. I couldn't find any type of universally (or even generally) agreed-upon definition, so I thought I'd try to make one up. But as I waded into it, I realized how difficult even that is.
There's just so much ground to cover in "fine wood furniture" such as style, type of wood used, craftsmanship, type of joinery used, finishing products and techniques, the use of hand tools versus precision machinery, the use of veneers versus solid wood, and of course durability and longevity.
So I've been opining my way through each area– well just to generate some discussion really, because I think that would be more valuable than an attempted definition of "fine wood furniture".
Today I wanted to talk about where "fine wood furniture" comes from and how it makes it's way to your bedroom or kitchen. Would you believe that most of the so called "fine wood furniture" that's sold in America today is made in China or VietNam from wood that was logged unsustainably (and often illegally) from the rainforests of South America, Africa, Siberia and Asia? I know it sounds like extremist rhetoric, but it's really not. Kendall just published a page on sustainable furniture today, reminding us about the environmental damage that comes from rainforest destruction.
So my point is, if you're going to define fine wood furniture, you probably do need to address where it comes from. Furniture from small companies like Vermont Woods Studios that use American-grown, sustainably-harvested wood and local craftspeople is different than furniture that's made overseas with illegal wood by people paid 25 cents/hour. It feels different. It has better "karma". It makes you feel proud to own it. You find yourself telling people all about where you got it and how long it took to make and how the joinery is designed, right?
Another note– most American fine wood furniture comes with a lifetime guarantee– an important indication of sustainability.
Next post, I'd like to share some sustainable practices I've been impressed with at Copeland Furniture and Clearlake Furniture, both Vermont companies. After looking at the green practices Vermont furniture makers have been famous for over many generations, you may find youself agreeing with me that Vermont is the Fine Furniture Capital of America.
Thanks to Clearlake Furniture for the photo of their Rocking Chair