Believe it or not that’s why our small business was born. We’re not a furniture company that “went green”. Vermont Woods Studios was actually a product of my mid-life crisis/desire to make a difference in this world. Weird, right? For some people it’s all about fast cars, loud motorcycles, sex, drugs or rock & roll. For me it was about forest conservation. It’s a long story (which I did tell to Laura Dunn of the Huffington Post, in the remote case you may be interested) but the point is:
The World Is Losing It’s Forests
Many people may not see it as a big deal but if you somehow found your way to this quirky green blog, there’s a good chance you’ll be concerned about these statistics:
More than half of the world’s 193 countries have already lost 90% or more of their forest cover
Rainforests that once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface now cover a mere 6%, yet they are home to over half the species of plants and animals in the world
We are losing the rainforest at the rate of 1.5 acres every second
Experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be gone from this earth before you are
So We’re Trying to Help
Last year we celebrated our 10th year in business. Since 2005 we’ve planted about 7500 trees, many of them through The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees project. More importantly we’ve kept a similar number of rare rainforest trees out of the furniture market as we’ve used only sustainably harvested North American trees. Who is responsible for this progress? You… our customers, our readers and our partners. Your support enables us to throw our energy into environmental projects we think are important and for that we are immensely grateful.
Planting Trees in Mexico
Recently we’ve focused our support on a tree-planting project called the La Cruz Habitat Protection Program LCHPP in Michoacan Mexico. This is a reforestation initiative that I discovered during my efforts to help save the Monarch Butterfly, which is native to Vermont but it over-winters in sunny Mexico. I wrote about it recently and will be visiting LCHPP’s project in Mexico next week. Stay tuned for a full report. Anyway…
Conservation Matters To Our Customers, Partners & Staff
Does it matter to you? Post your thoughts on our Facebook or contact me directly at peggy@VermontWoodsStudios.com. I want to know what you think. Thanks for reading!
At 7am on Sunday morning I’ll be boarding a flight to Morelia, Mexico. Woohoo! The trip evolved out of my obsession with forest conservation and the Monarch Butterfly. If you’re a frequent flyer on this blog, you’ve probably noticed we love environmental projects like this.
The other day, Megan (our ace Marketing Maven) suggested I try to boil down some of my previous blogs and summarize why a Vermont furniture store would want to help save the Monarch Butterfly. So here goes… the Top 4 reasons are:
The Environment Is Important To Us
It’s not just me. At Vermont Woods Studios we are a community of nature lovers, idealists, world travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. Most of us grew up in rural places and have had much interaction with butterflies, birds and other critters throughout our lives. Monarchs are such a big, beautiful butterfly! They were everywhere in Vermont. It used to be practically a right of passage for kids to collect them and watch their metamorphosis every August. Now they are extremely rare and we worry about that.
The Environment Is Important To Our Customers
Our customers have many options as to where they buy their furniture. Often times they tell us that when it comes to the final decision, with all else being equal, they are looking for an environmentally responsible company. We are trying to live up to that.
We Want to Change the World
Getting a paycheck is not enough for all the hard work that goes into making this Vermont furniture store a success. We want to feel like our efforts matter. Like there’s a purpose behind our work.
Changing the world is a little hard to get our arms around though. But we can change a little part of it: like restoring habitat for the Monarchs. And that’s totally possible because in Vermont, Monarch habitat is primarily one plant, milkweed. It’s easy… we collect milkweed seeds in the Fall and plant them in the Spring. This year we’re hoping to have a sizable plot of milkweed habitat in the backyard here at Stonehurst.
We Believe Business Has a Responsibility to Make the World a Better Place
With our business behind us (founded on the mission of forest conservation) we don’t have to stop at planting milkweed in Vermont. We can extend our conservation efforts. We know that Monarchs don’t spend their winters here– they migrate to Mexico and roost in evergreen (oyamel) trees in the mountains of Michoacan. Those oyamel trees are being illegally logged and the Monarch’s habitat is disappearing.
What difference does it make if we restore their habitat here in Vermont? The species will still go extinct if they lose their winter habitat. So that brings me back to my trip to Mexico. I’ll be working with Jose Luis Alvarez of the La Cruz Habitat Protection Program to help conserve existing forest habitat and replant what’s been destroyed. You can find details here in last week’s blog. By the way, there’s still time to join me on this adventure!
I’d love to hear what you think about butterflies, business and changing the world. Please comment on Facebook or in the section below. Thanks for reading.
Right now at this very moment, one of earth’s most amazing natural wonders is taking place in Mexico. Nearly 100 million monarch butterflies from all over the USA and Canada have migrated south to the mountains of Central Mexico where they are over-wintering prior to their return flight this Spring. We’ve described the Monarch migration in previous blogs– it’s the most complex migration pattern of any known species on earth.
Monarch Butterflies Are on the Brink of Extinction
Over the past 20 years the monarch population has declined by 90 percent. During the winter of 1996-1997, scientists estimated there were a billion monarchs over-wintering in Mexico. An estimate from last year found only about 35 million, a number so low that several environmental organizations are petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to classify monarch butterflies as “threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
You Can Help Save Them
Love nature? Here are a couple ways you can help save the amazing Monarch butterfly from extinction:
Help Restore Monarch Habitat in the USA and Canada
Monarchs need milkweed and nectar plants to survive and thrive during the summer months they spend in the US and Southern Canada. We’ve written many blogs about how to plant milkweed and we even have milkweed seeds we’ll be happy to send you if you’d like to get involved.
Help Restore Monarch Habitat in Mexico
At Vermont Woods Studios we’ve allied with the La Cruz Habitat Protection Program LCHPP in an effort to Plant a Million Trees every year in the Monarch’s overwintering area in Michoacan, Mexico. I’ll be writing more about LCHPP, a leading organization in the race to save the Monarch, but for a glimpse of their work check out this video.
Spirit of Butterflies Tour
For the adventurous nature lover, here’s another way to help save the Monarchs. Contact Maraleen Manos-Jones who works with LCHPP and sign up for the trip of a lifetime: a tour of the Monarch butterflies over-wintering forest habitat in Michoacan, Mexico. Leading the tour will be Jose Luis Alvarez, co-founder of LCHPP and renowned expert on Monarchs and reforestation of their habitat. I’m taking the tour at the end of February… why don’t you join me? I’ll provide details in my next blog but in the meantime, you can check out what other travelers have said about visiting monarch over-wintering sites on TripAdvisor.
Why Does A Furniture Company Care?
Vermont Woods Studios was founded on a mission of forest conservation. From the beginning we set out not only to provide our customers with the best value & quality for Vermont made wood furniture but also to conserve the forests that provide wood for furniture. That mission of forest conservation coupled with my history of studying Monarchs with Kendall and Riley when they were little, made this project with LCHPP and Spirit of Butterflies a perfect fit. I hope you’ll join us as we work to help bring this iconic species back and conserve them for future generations.
A Final Glimpse of This Year’s Monarch Butterfly Migration
Cycle one of our monarch butterfly restoration project is coming to a close here at Vermont Woods Studios. Over the past week and a half, our monarchs have been hatching one by one. The first, taking us by surprise with its ability to speedily release itself from its chrysalis. In just a short moment, the monarch broke through the chrysalis and pulled its damp body from the small structure. The Stonehurst staff monitored the fledgling butterfly excitedly as it clung to the shell of the chrysalis, drying slowly.
Eventually the butterfly dried itself and went off in search of food to prepare itself for its migration journey. One by one, our other chrysalises turned shiny and black and we knew it would only be a matter of days before all of our monarchs would be beautiful, bouncing, baby butterflies ready to fly off into the world.
We are proud and happy to see the caterpillars we raised turn into the delicate winged creatures they are today. In this first cycle of the project, we have seen the release of twenty monarch butterflies. Being the business people we are, we appreciate this achievement that we have reached but we also strive to do better in the future.
The end of the first cycle of this project gives way to the second cycle that will start almost immediately. Our CEO Peggy has been watching the milkweed pods carefully for a week now and has determined that the time has come for us to once again harvest the seeds. As we head quickly into the second cycle of monarch restoration, we hold in our minds ways to maximize the habitat restoration and amount of monarchs we will be able to foster and release in the spring.
We hope to harvest and distribute more seeds than last year. We plan to raise seedlings ourselves to give out in the spring time to those dedicated people who promise to plant them on their land. We are already percolating new ideas for monarch caterpillar rearing environments with hopes of a terrarium in the near future.
This year we took on 50 monarch caterpillars but we know we can handle more than that. The success of cycle one has given us fuel and ambition to make cycle two of this very important restoration project bigger and better.
(This is part four of a four part blog series on our Monarch Butterfly Restoration Project)