Rustic Barnwood Furniture
This This Rustic Barnwood Sideboard with Ceramic Sink, rich with history and character, is created from high quality, reclaimed and recycled doors, floor boards, siding and other original components of New England’s historic barns. Organic, live-edge buffet top.

Furniture is more than just something we sit on, sleep on, and eat on; our furniture becomes a part of our life story. It’s an integral piece of what makes a house a home. But for the chemically sensitive, or for those who are just serious about not bringing harsh chemicals into their homes, finding the right furniture can seem like an impossible task.

At Vermont Woods Studios, we’re dedicated to providing furniture that is good for your health, home, and the environment.

Our Wood Furniture

All of our furniture (with the exception of our Outdoor line, which is made from recycled milk jugs) is handcrafted in Vermont using real, natural hardwoods. We do not work with inferior substrates like Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF), particle board, or flimsy faux wood veneers.

We work mostly with cherrymapleoak and walnut. Each board in your furniture is selected by hand, and inspected for quality, strength, straightness, grain and color. When requested, we use FSC green-certified lumber, although there is still a premium for FSC certified wood. Sometimes our artisans harvest lumber from the woods on their own property, a sustainable approach that adds another dimension to the story of your furniture!

Toxin Free Finishes

Many of our furniture makers continue to use traditional oil and wax based finishes, but even those that use more modern finishes ensure that they are non-toxic, formaldehyde-free and eco-friendly with little or no Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs).

As concern over indoor air quality continues to grow, many of our furniture makers are moving towards water based finishes. Conventional petroleum based solvents contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are harmful to the atmosphere. While most of these VOCs are released at the time of manufacturing, a small amount remains on the product and can off-gas in the home. Many of our collections can now be requested in a non-emitting water-based finish.

Shopping for Organic Furniture Online

Questions to ask when making decisions on your organic wood furniture:

  • What type of wood is used?
  • Where does the wood come from?
  • How is the wood processed?  Are chemicals used in processing?  What kind of chemicals?
  • What type of finish and/or stain is used?  Is it a low VOC or no VOC finish-stain?  Can you supply an MSDS (material safety data sheet) for the finish?
  • What type of glue is used?  Is it non-toxic?  Does it contain formaldehyde?  MSDS available?
  • Where is the furniture made and by whom?
  • How is the furniture packaged for shipment?

If you have any questions or want to discuss the issues of natural, non-toxic furniture, give us a call or email us at Vermont Woods Studios.  We’ll be glad to help!

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios.  Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Sustainable Tourism in Nicaragua
A typical view of the Nicaraguan Pacific coast.  We took this photo at the Aqua Wellness eco lodge near Playa Gigante.  It was recently featured in Interior Design for excellence in sustainability and local sourcing of building materials and foods.

Vermont’s been cold this year.  We’ve had a winter like I haven’t seen since I was a kid (when every winter was like this).  So Ken and I decided to cash in some FF miles and head south for a week.  We like to visit rainforest countries because it gives us a chance to understand the realities and trends behind Vermont Woods Studios’ mission— forest conservation.  Central America provides the closest rainforest and we’ve traveled to Costa Rica and Panama before.  But after much research we decided to try Nicaragua this time.

When I told my mother and sister we were going to Nicaragua, they hesitated and politely said “be careful”.  Ken’s friends said “bring a machete” and “watch out for the Sandinistas”.  Douglas and Dennis encouraged us to update our wills before leaving.

Well, I’m here to tell you Nicaragua has changed!  No longer a war-torn country, it is now evolving to join it’s Central American neighbors as a warm and welcoming respite for it’s  neighbors to the North.  Lush rainforests, white sandy beaches, and majestic mountains make up Nicaragua’s landscape.  And friendly people reach out to help you find them along with unique, affordable places to stay, play and eat.

We chose Nicaragua because of it’s government’s commitment to the sustainable development of tourism (rather than the depletion of rainforest resources).  But recently news has broken of President Daniel Ortega’s $40 Billion deal with Hong Kong to build a canal across Nicaragua (that would compete with the Panama canal).   NPR aired a discussion of the catastrophic environmental and cultural devastation that could result.

Hopefully the deal is abandoned in lieu of the economic benefits of eco-tourism.  Interested in helping to tip the balance?  Learn more about affordable, sustainable Nicaraguan travel at the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Trip website.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios.  Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

 

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Celebrate National Forest Product Week | Vermont Wood Furniture

By Presidential proclamation, this week– October 20-26, 2013 is National Forest Products Week.  It’s a time for us to recognize the beauty of our forests, the many products that come from our forests and the people who work in and manage our forests.

At Vermont Woods Studios, our company was founded on a mission of forest conservation. Through Vermont’s beautiful, eco-friendly wood furniture, we’re trying to help raise awareness about the importance of sustainable forestry.  What’s so interesting or important about sustainable forestry?  Check out some of these fun forest facts:

  • Each year the average American uses an amount of forest products equivalent to one HUGE tree (10 stories tall and 18 inches in diameter).  That’s over 43 cubic feet of wood and 681 pounds of paper
  • More than 5,000 things are made from trees such as houses, furniture, utensils, fences, books, medicines, chewing gum, cosmetics, clothing, toothpaste, soap, varnish, Almond Joy candy bars and of course, maple syrup
  • The single oldest living thing on earth is a tree, its is 4,700 years old and is located in the US. It was growing when the Egyptians built the pyramids!
  • Forests occupy one third of the Earth’s land area– they are our greatest defense against global warming
  • As the Earth’s great air conditioners, trees rid the air of excess carbon dioxide and other pollutants to improve air quality
  • Trees filter water, trap particles to make soil and help regulate climate patterns around the world
  • Most forests are threatened by unsustainable forestry practices, development and climate change
  • Organized crime controls much of the world’s timber trade– illegal timber is the new heroin
  • An area of rainforest the size of a football field is being destroyed every second of every minute of every day
  • In less than 100 years over half of the forest has been cut and burned, leaving whole areas of the earth bare and unprotected
  • 54 of the world’s 193 countries have already lost >90% of their forests

With our mission of sustainable forestry we hope to persuade people to buy eco-friendly, Vermont made wood furniture and avoid the purchase of imported furniture that’s made from wood that’s illegally clear cut from the world’s rapidly disappearing rainforests.

Learn more about responsible forestry on the Vermont Forest Products Association website and visit us at our Stonehurst fine furniture and art gallery to experience the sustainable difference!

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Vermont Woods Studios encourages sustainable shopping.
Spending more time outdoors encourages reflection on your eco footprint! This is me enjoying nature in Poultney, VT.

My Opinion

Sustainability matters, it really does. Our planet is going through some major changes that I’m sure many of us have noticed– from entire species of animals being wiped out, to our rainforests being clear-cut, to the majorly devastating natural disasters occurring throughout the world. Big things are happening, and I don’t mean to scare anyone, but it has come time for us as people to take responsibility for our contribution to global climate change and its consequences. We have to start acting responsibly and be very conscious in our efforts to reduce our individual impact on the world!

 

It won’t be easy, but as a leading nation, it is up to Americans to set a positive example to the rest of the world! Can you envision a green future for the USA? A place where we manage our forests responsibly, care for our animals, & support sustainable business rather than greedy CEOs who allow child labor and unsafe factory conditions? A place where we take a second to think about what we are supporting when we make a purchase? A place where sustainable shopping is the norm? I can!

 

The tragedy that occurred in Bangladesh was extremely eye opening for me– especially when it comes to the companies who refused to agree to safer factory standards. It makes sense… these giant corporations are profiting majorly off of practices that are extremely harmful to the environment and the people who work for them. It’s unacceptable. I like to think that “every dollar you spend is a vote” (LN Smith), and my question is, who (and what) are you voting for?

 

I vote for companies with strict environmental standards, companies who believe that our future (and the future of our children, grandchildren, and beyond) is in our hands. I vote for companies who take responsibility and make positive efforts to decrease their environmental impact. I vote for companies who pay their workers fairly and don’t expose them to dangerous conditions. I vote for a green future, a happier, healthier future!

 

I challenge you to take a look around your home and think about where your products are coming from. Were they made in a factory overseas or by an American craftsman? Were they made from sustainably managed forests or were they made from wood harvested from the rainforest? Does the company you “voted” for have safe, ethical standards of pay and work conditions for their employees?

 

Just think about it. Literally envision your favorite items in your home being made, and the hands that created them. That’s the first step– just become aware that as consumers, we have the power to change the world. Every dollar is a vote!

 

 

 

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Vermont Furniture Makers | Wages and Income Discussion
I took this photo earlier this year of some of the master craftsmen responsible for the best of Vermont Made furniture.  From left:  Bill Laberge, Bob Gasperetti, Steve Holman and Dan Mosheim.  Each has a woodworking shop, quite typical of Vermont’s independent furniture makers.*

One of the best things about running a sustainable furniture business is that our customers are people who care about how we treat the environment and the people we work with.  They’ve come to us because they are willing to pay a premium for high quality, American made furniture that’s crafted from sustainably harvested wood– by furniture makers who are paid a fair, livable wage.

Yesterday we received this note from Wayne J:

I appreciated the description of your commitment to sustainability. I would also like to know how you care for the artisans and trades people who build and ship the furniture. What percentage of the price flows to these people? Are they paid a living wage? What is the ratio of their pay to that of the CEO? Are they making enough to create for themselves safe environments for doing their work. For me to do repeat business at this price point, it will be important to have answers to these questions as well.

These are great questions.  I would ask the same thing if I was a customer and I thought you might be interested in the answers, so I decided to post them here.  I’ll break it down into Compensation and Occupational Safety & Health.

Compensation

Vermont Woods Studios is set up as a marketing and sales company.  We actually don’t build much furniture anymore (we started out with Ken building furniture but as we grew, he couldn’t keep up, so we got him doing the bookkeeping instead).  So we don’t directly employ furniture makers.  We work with independent Vermont furniture makers, either buying furniture wholesale and selling retail or via commission or referral fees.

From the beginning, we set Vermont Woods Studios up as a mission-driven company, that is:  To conserve forests and artistic woodworking while providing our customers with the best selection, value, quality and service available for Vermont made wood furniture.

Because Ken is a woodworker, we are well aware of the amount of time and effort that goes into a piece of handcrafted furniture.  We have a middle ground to walk between helping Vermont furniture companies and craftspeople achieve high quality jobs and providing our customers with the best value for their furniture.  All the while we must compensate our marketing, sales and web development staff as best we can.

As for the CEO’s salary… well that would be mine.  I haven’t actually taken a salary yet, per se.  We are in our 8th year at Vermont Woods Studios and as other small business owners will attest, much of the early years involves investing and rolling profits back into the business, rather than taking a salary.  For now, I am sustained with the knowledge that if we meet our challenge of creating efficiencies in the Vermont furniture making and shipping system, we’ll end up with a win-win-win-win situation: for woodworkers, customers, Vermont Woods Studios employees (including me) and the environment.

Occupational Safety and Health

Vermont has the highest environmental standards of any state in the nation.  As for the safety and health of the woodworkers that craft furniture for Vermont Woods Studios, I believe all the companies we work with (both large and small) go above and beyond federal and state OSHA and EPA regulations.  Prior to starting this company I worked in environmental and occupational health and safety for 20+ years, with my most recent work in this occupation was at Tulane’s Center for Applied Environmental Public Health.  That experience, plus the fact that Ken has an active woodworking shop gives me confidence in my assessment of the safety and health protections our woodworking partners employ.  I do realize that we have to take a more active role in documenting safety, health and sustainability compliance amongst our partners in the future, though.

If you’re interested in additional details regarding sustainability, livable wages and worker safety at Vermont Woods Studios, please browse through our fine furniture website to learn about:

and give me a call or email me to suggest ways for us to continually improve.

* Not all of our craftspeople have their own businesses.  Many work for larger companies, like Copeland Furniture.  Read more about sustainability and the treatment of craftspeople at Copeland Furniture here.

considered proprietary information

according tothe Vermont Department of Labor, the average annual salary for a Vermont woodworker is $ 32,440

http://www.vtlmi.info/oic3.cfm?occcode=51709900#wage

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.