Where Does Your Wooden Furniture Come From?
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.
Happy 2013! We hope this year brings you all the best of good health, happiness and success. And we hope you’ll come share some of that with us in our new home at Stonehurst in Vernon, Vermont. 2013 will be a year of renovations at this 200 year old Vermont farmhouse as we work with J Coleman + Company Architects and Bob Furlone of American Construction to transform the property into a fine furniture showroom and nature center.
Our goal this year is to provide the destination shopping experience our customers (from Boston, New York and beyond) have been longing for. Stonehurst will become a place where eco-conscious homeowners can experience all aspects of Vermont handcrafted furniture, including the natural forests where it originates.
Check our blog and Facebook now and then as 2013 unfolds a new life for this iconic Vermont property. We’re planning to complete construction by June, just in time for a mid-summer Grand Opening. In the meantime, if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by with your toboggan this winter. We’ve got about a foot of snow now with more in the forecast. Either way, don’t let 2013 go by without a trip to Vermont!
Happy New Year
There's still time to register for the best Green Build conference in Vermont, Better Buildings by Design, to be held at the Sheraton Conference Center in Burlington VT on Feb 8-9, 2012.
At Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture much of our work is with green architects, builders and home owners as they approach the final stages of their construction projects. We're always excited to see our natural, eco-friendly furniture installed in green homes that reflect the same environmental passions we've built our business on.
If you're thinking of building or renovating, you're sure to enjoy (and learn a lot at) this convivial gathering of green designers, builders, vendors, realtors and consultants. Here's 3 reasons why:
- This is the Northeast's premier sustainable design and construction conference, featuring interactive learning about building, durability, efficiency, and value. It hosts over 1000 attendees, 35 workshops and 50 exhibitors.
- If you're planning on building or retrofitting a green home or business in Vermont this is the best place to find out who's who in the zoo of local regional green home builders, service providers and consultants in the areas of thermal imaging, heat pumps, thermal biomass, performance monitoring, hydrothermal modeling, whole house monitoring, high performance hot water systems, solid state lighting or LEDs, deep energy retrofits, energy codes and more.
- Here you can find the best scoop on Self-Reliance, the 100% solar-powered home that took fourth place in the 2011 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C. The Middlebury College green team of college students and faculty will explain how they looked to the past to reinvent the residential building of Vermont’s future, discussing everything from sustainable materials and modern technology to the economic realities of building a solar home.
We finally managed to get everybody on our staff together for a photo in our office-showroom at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture. Well, most of us anyway. The student interns (aka our children) were all attending high school and college at the time. But tthey are an important part of our success so hopefully we'll be able to take another snapshot during Christmas vacation and update you then. For now, your Sustainable Furniture Team consists of:
First row from left: Rebecca, Peggy, Manjula, Shannon
Second row from left: Douglas, Ken, Dennis
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.
The 2011 Solar Decathalon final judging results are in and Vermont's own Middlebury College Team came in Fourth overall in a world-class line up of contestants.
Congratulations from all of us at Vermont Woods Studios!
The team cam in FIRST place in the areas of Communications, Home Entertainment, and Market Appeal. Learn more about the brilliant, hardworking students who made it happen.
The sustainable, energy-efficient home Middlebury students designed and built was filled with Vermont made furniture and accessories, including the Cherry Moon Dovetail Bed we donated. Great job guys!
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.
I'm trying not to feel too wounded. We got a call from World Wildlife Fund WWF today. I've been a contributing member and ardent promoter of their work since I graduated from college and got my first full time job in 1980. After 31 years of enthusiastic support, they called me today to tell me that I'm not allowed to mention their name on my Vermont Woods Studios Furniture website anymore.
See… we recently launched a Save the Tiger campaign to raise awareness of the fact that all species of tigers are endangered and some are on the brink of extinction. Their habitat is being destroyed and to some extent it's because corrupt timber conglomerates are clear-cutting the forests they live in and using the wood for cheap imported furniture and flooring that's sold in the US and Europe. We oppose that and so does WWF. We support their Save the Tiger fund and we encourage furniture shoppers to buy American furniture made from sustainably harvested American wood.
Well I guess they don't like their name being connected to a commercial venture. I understand their concern about the fact that there are dirt ball websites out there that might use their name dishonestly, but really. I asked WWF to spend 5 minutes on our website and tell me we're one of those guys. They agreed that our committment to conservation seems genuine but then noted that in order to be considered WWF partners and refer to them on your website, a minimum "6 figure donation" is required annually along with a long list of other things. Actually, I think we would be OK with the other requirements but $100,000 is equal to 1/6 of our total revenue (not profits) last year. So now I have to face the fact that I've been summarily rejected by my all time favorite charity– an organization that had a profound influence on the whole concept defining Vermont Woods Studios Furniture. How sad is that?
I'm going to finish crying in my beer tonight. Tomorrow I'll be over it and moved on to other issues. But tonight I can't help feeling a bit jaded about WWF and their corporate partnership program. What do you think?
I always cringe when seeing myself in a video but Manjula has insisted we post this one on the Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture homepage. It's a segment we did for The Weather Channel during the summer and it's about the link between your furniture and the environment– and the weather of course. Specifically it talks about the rainforest, how it's disappearing at a rate of 1 football field/second and the fact that it's being clear-cut to supply timber for cheap furniture imports.
If you're someone who drives an eco-friendly fuel efficient car, you may be interested to know that your choice of furniture has a bigger impact on the environment than your car choice. That's because deforestation is repsonsible for a greater contribution to air pollution and global warming than the entire transportation sector.
Take a minute to watch our nationally broadcast video segment about American made furniture crafted from sustainably harvested wood and let us know what you think. We'll look forward to hearing from you!
Forest conservation is one of the two missions that Vermont Woods Studios is built on. We are trying to help raise awareness about the importance of sustainable use of the world's forests, particularly the rainforests. Sustainable use means that when we harvest trees we do so in such a way that the forest regenerates in a healthy fashion. We want the forest to have the same richness and biodiversity in 100 years as it does today. And in the case of forests that have already been damaged (most of them) we want to help restore the original character and biodiversity of the forest.
Did you know that 1.5 acres (about 1 football field) of rainforest are being lost every second due in part, to illegal harvesting of timber for the imported wood furniture and flooring industries? This clear-cutting of the world's rainforests is responsible for a greater portion of global warming than the entire transportation sector!
But as we lose the rainforests we're not only exacerbating global warming, we're also losing all of the amazing diversity of life that has evolved there for millions of years. Scientists estimate we're losing over 130 species per day due to rainforest destruction. All the great apes and great cats are at the forefront of this issue with each of these species being critically endangered. You can make a difference in the future of these species by the choices you make in the furniture store–look for American made furniture built with sustainably harvested American wood.
Read more about our rainforest conservation efforts.