Scroll down to see how our Manifesto evloved
Today the World Wildlife Fund reports that after losing nearly 70 per cent of its forest habitat and half its population in one generation, the Sumatran elephant is heading for imminent extinction due to deforestation and habitat loss.
These elephants are not alone. According to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, 3-5 species become extinct every hour of every day. That’s up to 45,000 species every year!
What we’re doing at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture is trying to raise awareness about the how your choices as a consumer directly affect the extinction of endangered species like the Sumatran elephant. If you can avoid buying imported forest products, especially wood furniture and flooring (if it’s not clearly labelled Made in America–pretty much any furniture you’ll find at Home Depot, Walmart, Bob’s, Lowe’s or other big box stores is imported) you’ll be doing your part to lessen global deforestation and destruction of the habitat these elephants live in.
What else are we doing?
We support a number of projects to save endangered species. Here’s one I was pretty excited about last week: when I was on the Vernon Selectboard a few years back, our town partnered with the Vermont Division of Fish and Wildlife DFW to protect habitat and save the critically endangered spotted turtle from extinction. Last week we were able to celebrate our work. It’s 6 or 7 years later, but finally through a long process, the turtle habitat is being cared for and hopefully we’ll start to see their population come back.
How about you? Tell us what you’re doing in the comments below or on our Vermont Furniture Facebook.
I’ve been trying to draw attention to the link between tiger conservation and furniture buying for years. But somehow it seems such a stretch to explain the connection that it gets lost in the ether. No one has noticed my efforts.
It’s hard to believe but there are only about 3200 tigers left in the wild. This tiger subspecies, the Siberian Tiger– the world’s largest cat is literally on the brink of extinction with only about 400 individuals remaining in their natural habitat. If you can’t stand the idea of letting these magnificient creatures disappear forever on our watch, help us spread the word. Follow us on twitter, fan us on facebook. There IS something you can do about keeping tigers on this planet for your children and grandchildren to marvel at.
We’re trying to come up with a percentage of Vermont Woods Studios‘ profits that we can promise to donate to the Rainforest Alliance, the Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund and other non-profits working to save the rainforest. Last year, being only our second year in business, we had no profits (uh hum…we’re still investing in this business) but we still managed to donate over $1500. This year, we hope it will be much more (and based on profits!). We’re asking for your help in making that happen.
In September, 2006, I was very fortunate to be able to join with Gerry Cooklin , Susan Inglis and a small group of visionary leaders in the furniture industry to talk about the unique status the furniture industry has as the main consumer of the forest’s most precious species. That was the birth of a non-profit now called the Sustainable Furniture Council, FSC. We are now over 100 members strong, all working to educate consumers and promote sustainable practices in our industry. Vermont Woods Studios is proud to be a founding member of this world-changing group.
And that’s how Vermont Woods Studios was born. Living in Vermont, the fine furniture capital of the world, we saw not just an opportunity, but an imperative to use the elegant, natural furniture produced in our state as a vehicle to help educate consumers about the forest, it’s inhabitants, it’s importance, it’s vulnerability to destruction, and the impact that will have on global warming. And that’s the whole point of this blog. To start a conversation with you and your friends and anyone else you might be willing to reach out and invite to the table—about how we can help change the world by changing the way you think about, and purchase your furniture.
Well, there’s plenty of blame to go around for industries like timber, soy, beef, fertilizer, pesticide and so on. Those industries need to get going and get on The Green Train too! And as the highest value-added industry, The Furniture Industry Needs to Step up and Change the Way it Sources Product. Here’s why:
- Much of the clear-cutting of the rainforest is done to produce timber for furniture and flooring. Incredibly, up to 90% of today’s imported furniture-grade wood is illegally harvested, from the rainforest. Look around your house. If you have mahogany or teak furniture that is not certified as sustainably harvested by a third party non-profit such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) it’s a good bet that furniture came from clear-cutting the rainforest.
- China has taken over about a third of the world trade in furniture over just the last 8 years, making it the leading importer of timber from tropical rainforests. Logging practices that supply the timber are typically illegal and labor conditions are deplorable. Again, chances are if you’ve purchased furniture in the last 10 years, it was made in China of illegal wood that may have come from as far away as the Amazon in South America. Peter Goodman and Peter Finn of the Washington Post did an informative article on the shocking state of corruption and illegal logging in China and elsewhere. Read it, then get on board The Green Train!
More urgent reasons behind Vermont Woods Studios fight to save the Amazon and other rainforests:
- The Amazon Rainforest oft described as the “Lungs of our Planet”, recycles the green house gas, carbon dioxide into oxygen. More than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon!
- You won’t believe this but widespread fires in the Amazon, set intentionally to clear land for agriculture, are now making Brazil one of the world’s leading greenhouse gas producers!
- At least twenty percent of the Amazon has been cut down/slashed and burned in the last 40 years (more than in the previous 450 years of European colonization)
- Scientists predict that another 20% will be lost over the next 2 decades
- Nearly every road in the Amazon is unauthorized — cut by trespassing land sharks (with forged phony land titles) who clear the land for timber, pasture and soy production. (Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of beef and second only to the US in soybeans. Rainforest soil is not suited to these purposes, thus mass amounts of pesticides and fertilizers are used further worsening the problem)
- I’m not making this stuff up. My sources aren’t some left wing groups you’ve never heard of. Check out some of these mainstream references: National Geographic, Audobon Magazine, United Nations Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, CNN Planet in Peril. If we want to keep breathing oxygen, we’ve got to get busy and do something now! Read more and get on The Green Train.
The whereas section of a document provides the reasons for its existence. So here are the facts that compelled the birth of Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture Store. It’s all about helping to: save the Rainforest and fight global warming. And we need to act quickly.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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, I KNOW this stuff bothers you as much as me. Time to get on The Green Train! Keep reading for more info and ways to help.
For years I’ve been asking myself: so what are you doing about global warming? And the fact that every species of big cat (lions, tigers, jaguars, cheetas, leopards…) and every species of sea turtle and every species of great apes, and so on, is endangered?
These are issues I can’t just turn away from. Don’t you hate it when people just ignore this stuff and act like there’s nothing they can do about it. We CAN do something about it and we must. This is the reason for the manifesto and the foundation of Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture. I'll draft the manifesto up right here on my blog. How else will I find time to do it? Chime in with your comments and suggestions. We’re going to come up with something brilliant that changes the way people think about their furniture!
Think about this. We’re out there ravenously gobbling up cheap, curbside furniture (stuff that will be on the curb in 5 years) at big box stores, all the while not knowing that our consumer habits are leading to the destruction of the rainforest, extinction of the most biologically diverse pristine places on the planet, and exacerbation of global warming. If people knew that their furniture choices had these consequences, would they instead begin to purchase things that were made from sustainably and legally harvested wood. Things that would last for many generations rather than many months? I think so.
So that's our mission…to show people how powerful they are as consumers…especially through the purchase of sustainable furniture, but also by adopting a green attitude toward all their purchases.
I’ve been trying to find a better way to share our vision and mission for Vermont Woods Studios Furniture and also wanting to let you know how we’re doing at meeting the goals we’ve set in order to achieve our vision. I’m thinking of writing a manifesto.
I’ve written previously about how and why we conceived this business, about our green mission and about the artisans that craft our beautiful furniture. What we're up to is so exciting and so important! But with all the demands of a start up company that bear down on the very few individuals that make it all work, the excitement can sometimes get a little lost in the day to day madness. I want to have one document, one place where we can tell the world (and remind ourselves) what we’re all about and how we plan to use our furniture business to help solve urgent environmental problems like global warming, rainforest destruction and species extinction. A manifesto seems to be the instrument to do that. What do you think?