Naturally, as wood furniture makers, we at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture have to be concerned about forest conservation. It's the foundation of our company's viability.
Although our Green Mountain Forests in Vermont are healthy and sustainable we know that, from a global perspective deforestation is the Number 1 environmental problem on our planet today. Deforestation is a huge contributor to global warming, climate change, air pollution (carbon and other emissions from slash and burn practices), habitat loss, biodiversity loss, pollution of marine habitats (due to run-off from pesticides and fertilizers used to transform diverse forests into mono-cultured plantations) and more.
So at Vermont Woods Studios, we are working with The Nature Conservancy in support of their Plant A Billion Trees project. We plant one tree for every order we fulfill and we support many non-profits dedicated to forest conservation.
We appreciate your concern for the environment. When you buy wood furniture from us, you can rest assured that the forest where your furniture began it's life, will still be around for generations to come. As will your furniture!
I was working with one of our Vermont Woods Studios customers yesterday who was looking for a natural cherry bed to match existing cherry furniture in his bedroom. He’s had the existing furniture for about 10 years and now it’s a lovely, rich reddish brown color– something like this solid cherry bed made by Robin Chase.
The problem is that natural cherry starts out a much lighter wood, usually with a color similar to this Cherry Moon Bed and it takes time to darken as it is exposed to light. The length of time to go from this light color to the darker color above varies with the amount of light in the room and can take anywhere from a few months to a number of years. Most customers, however report that their furniture darkens within 6-12 months.
Customers often ask if there is a way to speed up the process and the consensus among our craftspeople is that the best solution is just to expose the furniture to as much light as possible. Adding a dark stain is also a possibility but woodworkers always plead with us to have patience and wait it out instead. For most customers, the result truly is worth waiting for, especially since our furniture is purchased for a lifetime of use. Check out more photos of our natural cherry furniture in the Cherry Moon Collection, Vermont-Made Shaker Collection and throughout our website.
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!
“Whether people are fully conscious of this or not, they actually derive countenance and sustenance from the ‘atmosphere’ of the things they live in or with. They are rooted in them just as a plant is in the soil in which is planted.”
-Frank Lloyd Wright
Showcasing the grandeur of America's best prairie-style architecture, Copeland's Frank Lloyd Wright® Furniture reflects Wright's love of nature and the timeless beauty of his artistry.
Each piece of this high end collection is based on an original that was (and still is) seen in Wright’s Prairie Houses. Copeland starts with Wright’s designs, solid hardwoods, and superior upholstery; then employs traditional craftsmanship and state-of the-art technology to create these authentic, signed and numbered, heirloom- quality pieces for your home.
If you're all about natural, organic purity in your luxury home furniture, you can't help but fall in love with this classic collection. The pieces have a certain gravitas that's compelling in even the most posh, luxurious setting. Or as Wright put it,
“It opens, we enter, and an atmosphere of quiet strength and well-ordered repose envelops us, refreshes us, and gives us confidence in the personality of the “owners,” assures us of depth, warmth, and simplicity.”
Our customers usually come to Vermont Woods Studios with a pretty clear understanding of the benefits of natural, organic, eco-friendly furniture. They're looking to help protect the environment. They want to know that the wood used in their furniture has been sustainably harvested from forests that are going to be healthy and intact for many more generations. Customers are also looking to protect their families from toxic substances in furniture finishes that could off-gas and cause respiratory problems.
But did you know that choosing natural, eco-furniture also reduces your carbon footprint and helps reduce global warming? It's true. Scientists attribute about 20% of global warming to deforestation, particularly that of tropical rainforests, such as the Amazon.
If you're buying imported wood furniture, chances are it was made from illegally harvested wood that was clear cut from the rainforest. Because there is such widespread counterfeiting of logging documents, consumers are often unwittingly contributing to global warming and the eventual loss of iconic tree species such as mahogany and teak when purchasing imported furniture.
Vermont Woods Studios uses only sustainably harvested American wood in the crafting of our furniture. Much of it comes from our own Green Mountain Forest. We support the Forest Stewardship Council, the Nature Conservancy and other non-profits working to preserve the rainforest and stop global warming. When you purchase organic wood furniture from our store you can rest assured that both your furniture and the forest from where it originates will be around for generations to come.
For many of our customers, the finish on their wood furniture is the most important aspect. Beyond aesthetics and ideals, these "finishing touches" can be considered a very real health concern. Often, one or more members of the family is allergic or sensitive to certain chemical finishes.
More and more, consumers are being made aware of the adverse effects that even trace amounts of chemical exposure can have on those with fragile health. Here at Vermont Woods Studios Furniture we offer a number of standard clear, non-toxic finishes including natural linseed oil, poly gel, and low-VOC lacquer. Customers can also purchase custom "green" finishes, such as the Vermont Natural Coatings Poly Whey finish which is made here in Vermont from dairy products.
We work with individual customers to understand their specific concerns and needs and to suggest natural, non-toxic furniture finishes that we have researched and tested and found to be effective for protecting our health, our furniture and our planet.
The Internet, of course, has made it much easier for consumers to do their own research on natural, eco-friendly finishes and to really delve into a product's specifications. MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) are available online as well as anecdotal stories and opinions written by professionals and consumers.
Are you looking for help with natural, non-toxic finishes for your organic furniture? Feel free to give us a call and we'll help you select the natural, organic furniture with a chemical-free finish that's best for your needs.
By Guest Blogger: Erik Braunitzer
Furniture makers like Vermont Woods Studios Furniture are doing their part to improve their carbon footprint. Extensive documentation on their website or even a quick phone conversation with Rebecca or Shannon puts families at ease knowing the company is serious about their environmental, health and safety mission.
But simply seeing furniture in a store with a green stamp of certification label isn't always helpful when you're not familiar with the background of the stamp. So it’s important that we realize just how green furniture is made, along with the environmentally friendly materials that are used.
Furniture companies using wood and recycled materials generally have the smallest carbon footprint. Other materials would include concrete, plastic, aluminum, brick, glass, fiberglass and more. Now it’s been said that there isn’t one individual item or sustainable material, but a handful that share sustainable characteristics, including recyclables.
Furniture can also include the following:
· Paint Strippers
· Particle Board
Many of these substances are classified as volatile chemicals. Furniture made with these volatile chemicals can result in offgassing, which is evaporation at normal atmospheric pressure. Offgassing can be reduced or eliminated altogether by using stains, finishes or paints that are non toxic such as those made by Vermont Natural Coatings and AFM Safecoat.
Transportation is another part of the carbon footprint for furniture, as wood and other materials have to be extracted from the environment, shipped to distributors, transported to furniture makers, then sent off to the retail store and customers. The sustainability of a particular piece of furniture is dependent upon a couple of factors including:
· Durability– The longer the piece of furniture, the more sustainable it becomes.
· How it’s useful– Multifunctional furniture saves money and yields greater sustainability.
Learning where to buy this type of furniture can be quite a daunting task, as it’s not always portrayed clearly exactly what materials are used, and the percentage of each. In order to fully lead a responsible lifestyle, we should understand just how to look for green furniture. Here are a few tips:
Look for Sustainably Harvested Wood – Translates to the sustainability of ecosystems and natural forests.
Avoid Tropical Woods Like Mahogany and Teak - these woods are often illegally clearcut from the world's rapidly disappearing rainforests.
Ensure FSC Certification – for tropical woods, if no substitution can be made
Reclaimed Wood Furniture (RWF) – More or less, RWF is a recycled piece of furniture.
Non-Toxic Finishes – Keep your air clean and help protect your children from health issues.
Buy locally – Locally purchased items are always more sustainable as transportation costs are cut.
Clearly, Furniture making using sustainable materials is very important to the health of the overall environment. Similarly, it reduces waste and influences the vintage market. By following a few simple rules and clearly understanding how green furniture is made, you can make a difference in improving your carbon footprint. Next time you’re in the market for a table or chair, be sure to inquire about sustainable practices before purchasing.
Courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, New York Luxury Rentals.
All of our Vermont made Dining Room Furniture is on sale starting today and going through next Tuesday, June 21.
Just in time for summer! Take a few minutes out of your busy BBQ, pool-side and tanning schedule to check the sale out.
Now is the perfect time to order handmade, heirloom quality dining room furniture as it takes about 6-10 weeks to build. While you're outside enjoying the sun, we'll be crafting your furniture and then delivering it just about when you're moving dinner from the picnic table to the dining room.
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!
At Vermont Woods Studios we're privileged to work with some of the world's finest craftsmen. Some of these furniture makers have had a tradition of fine craftsmanship handed down to them through many generations of Vermonters while others have emigrated to our state, attracted by the natural beauty and the close community of artisans living here.
One of the passions we all share is a love of the outdoors and a connection to the forest: the source of our wood. Vermont furniture makers care immensely about where their wood comes from as this affects not only the look and quality of a piece but also the sense of "karma" that every handmade piece has. The sustainability of our forests is an important issue to us.
I read this note about forest conservation from friend and sustainable furniture maker Dave Allard recently and wanted to share it:
In 2008, the US Forest Service reported that the volume of American
hardwoods is 90 percent larger than it was just 50 years ago and nearly
twice as much hardwood grows as is harvested every year. When managed
responsibly hardwood forests are at the least carbon neutral.
American hardwoods are abundant and self-regenerating. For centuries
they have been providing beauty, warmth and functional value for floors,
furniture, moldings, millwork and cabinetry.
Conservation weighs heavily on our minds. We
have always purchased the finest hardwoods from local, and reputable
sustainable resources. This allows us to virtually hand pick our lumber,
save on the use of large trucks that emit pollutants, thus limiting our
carbon footprint and waste factor overall. We were ‘Green’ before it
I agree. Vermont is not only the fine furniture capitol of America it is also the sustainable furniture capitol of our country.