Forest conservation is at the heart of our mission at Vermont Woods Studios and we’re always trying to raise awareness about where your wood furniture comes from. If you’re committed to buying American made furniture– no worries. Chances are it’s made from legal wood, sustainably harvested from well-managed forests right here in North America.
But if you’re buying imported wood furniture (and according to a Washington Post article 70% of furniture sold in America is imported) then: Houston, we have a problem.
A recent Washington Post article by Brad Plumer entitled Organized Crime is Getting Rich Cutting Down the Rainforest describes how the illegal logging trade has become just as lucrative (and far more destructive) than the drug-trafficking industry. 50 to 90 percent of forestry in tropical areas is now controlled by criminal groups! “A great deal of logging simply takes place illegally — much of it in tropical areas such as the Amazon Basin, Central Africa, and Southeast Asia.” (ref: United Nations and Interpol)
The U.N. estimates that illicit logging is now worth between $30 billion to $100 billion, or up to 30 percent of the global wood trade. That illegal wood is often shipped from pristine rainforests to China, Vietnam and other third world countries where it’s fabricated into low quality furniture which is sold to US consumers. We’ve written quite a bit about the links between rainforest destruction, global warming and the furniture and flooring you choose for your home:
If you’re considering buying furniture at IKEA, Home Depot or any big box store… ask where the lumber originates and let us know what you find on our Facebook or in the comments section below. Then re-discover sustainable, American made wood furniture and join us in feeling good about your furniture and your green home.
Our sustainable furniture company was founded in 2005 on a mission of forest conservation. I had been studying rainforest conservation for years and wanted to see if I could do something to help change this startling statistic:
Every second of every minute of every day…
We lose over 1 acre of rainforest. Permanently.
Several years prior to starting Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture I had formed a non-profit corporation with the same mission (rainforest conservation) but I was never really able to get the funding I needed to lift it off the ground. So our wood furniture company was built as a for-profit corporation to help accomplish the same goals.
It’s not always easy to explain why a Vermont based fine furniture company is so committed to rainforest conservation. When I saw this info-graphic, Forests and the Green Economy (courtesy of The Nature Conservancy) I thought it might help. Here are a few rainforest facts that might surprise you:
More than half of the planet’s species live in the rainforest even though the rainforest only occupies about 2% of the earth’s surface
Many of our favorite iconic species are critically endangered due to deforestation, including all species of big cats and all species of big apes
An estimated 137 species of plants and animals are driven into extinction every day due to deforestation
Rainforest deforestation contributes as much to global warming as the sum of all the cars, trains and planes in the world
Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface; now they cover <6%
If deforestation continues at this rate, the rainforests could be gone in < 40 years and once they’re gone, they are gone forever. Rainforests do not regenerate the way our Northern temperate forests do
The Nature Conservancy summarizes this and other compelling facts about the rainforest in their info-graphic. Along with the World Wildlife Fund they are among the world’s best hopes for saving the rainforest. Check out their info-graphic and learn about ways you can help everyday through your choices of food, paper, furniture, flooring and other forest products.
At Vermont Woods Studios we donate $1 for every sale to the Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees project and run occasional benefits to support non-profits that work to save the rainforest and it’s inhabitants. Learn more about our work in the Mission section of our blog and website.
Ever wonder where your wooden furniture comes from? Seven years ago I founded Vermont Woods Studios because I didn’t like the answer to that question. And the answer is: if you didn’t purchase American made furniture, yours may well have originated in a beautiful tropical rainforest that was being plundered by illegal logging activities.
One Acre of Rainforest Disappears Every Second
I spent the first few years at Vermont Woods Studios trying to raise awareness about rainforest devastation and how it’s driven by the wood furniture and flooring industries. Did you know that the rainforest is disappearing at the rate of >1 acre per second? It sounds unbelievable and sensationalist, doesn’t it? I mean that’s over 4000 football fields every hour of every 24 hour day, 365 days/year. But it’s true and that fact is why we continue to work so hard to offer sustainable, locally made furniture at this Vermont furniture store.
You and I Have the Power to Save the Rainforest
Consumers of wood furniture, flooring and other forest products are the key to saving the rainforest. If you’re taking the trouble to learn about sustainable wooden furniture and how you as a consumer can be part of the global solution, we want to help. I’ll be writing a series of blogs over the next few months to provide some background information regarding the past, present and future of the rainforest and how we consumers can do our part to save it. Have any rainforest references or stories you’d like to share? Use the comment section below or join the conversation on our Facebook.
Why? Well although we love the warmth and integrity of real wood, it's is increasingly being seen as inappropriate for outdoor, all weather furniture. The main issue from an environmental standpoint is durability and longevity. Eco conscious customers are looking for furniture (both indoor and outdoor) that's built to last a lifetime… stuff that's not going to end up in a landfill. So for all you wood lovers (myself included), here are the:
Three Best Features Of Faux Wood All Weather Outdoor Furniture
Faux wood, Polywood furniture is maintenance free. No more scaping, sanding or painting. It's made to rest and relax in, rather than create work at the end of the season
Faux wood, Polywood eliminates the need for winter storage. You can leave your polywood furniture outside all winter. So you save storage space, you save wear and tear on your back (remember wood and polywood furniture are heavy). And you save the time it takes to haul that heavy furniture around every Spring and Fall
Now I know how hard it can be for wood lovers to come to terms with buying "fake wood". I never would have considered it myself if I hadn't seen the statistics our environmental conservation partners are citing about the rate we're losing the world's precious rainforests. But as I started to look into Polywood and try out their "faux wood" furniture I became hooked. It looks fabulous, it's very comfortable and it's maintenance-free. It's the clear environmental and design/style choice for all weather outdoor furniture.
At Vermont Woods Studios, as wood furniture makers, our mission is built upon forest conservation. We're especially committed to preservation of the rainforests– the places where teak and mahogany outdoor furniture originate. In concert with rainforest protection groups worlwide, such as Rainforest Relief, we'll continue to work showcasing better alternatives to outdoor furniture made of tropical woods as part of our rainforest conservation efforts.
Yesterday I received a gift from my old pal, Sally Blakely. It was a tiger that she had symbolically adopted in my name from the World Wildlife Fund WWF. Thanks Sally, you couldn't have picked a more appreciated gift!
If anyone else out there loves tigers, I'm here to tell you that they're not going to be around for long unless we join WWF and other Tiger Conservation projects. It's urgent.
My adopted tiger from Sally
Check out this 2 minute WWF video. You can help save the tiger just by knowing these facts:
in 2009, people in North America consumed about 80 mllion tons of paper
The fastest growing brands of toilet paper in the United States today, Paseo, APP and Livi have a direct link to rainforest destruction
Over the past 25 years, Paseo, APP and Livi have clear-cut 5 million acres of Sumatran forest wood
Much of that land was once tiger, orangutan and elephant habitat
Since 1985 more than half of Sumatra’s natural forests—some 30 million acres (an area the size of Virginia!)—have been lost
Sumatra is the only place on earth where elephants, tigers and orangutans coexist
Indonesia (including Sumatra) is ranked 3rd in the world in terms of total carbon emission due to the slash and burn destruction of its rainforests
Do you see a world with wild tigers, orangutans and elephants in our future? Do you care? Here is your chance to change the world. It's not hard. Don't buy Paseo, APP or Livi products. Ask your grocer not to buy them. Ask your friends, schools and hotels not to buy them. Buy recycled or FSC certified paper products instead. Post this on your facebook.
Rainforest conservation is one of the main missions of our business at Vermont Woods Studios. We extend our gratitude to Leonardo DiCaprio who has been an outspoken champion of the tiger and WWF's Save Tigers Now campaign. The goal of Save Tigers Now is to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger but that can't happen unless we change our buying habits. Tiger numbers have declined 97% in the past 100 years. There may be as few as 3,200 wild tigers left in existence, the lowest number ever recorded.