Vermont Woods Studios Handmade Furniture

sustainable furniture

Congratulations to Middlebury Solar Decathalon Team!

October 2nd, 2011 by Dennis Shanoff

Middlebury-solar-decathalon-results 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!


Understanding What Goes into Green Furniture

August 30th, 2011 by Peggy Farabaugh

Sustainable-furniture 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

·      Paint Strippers

·      Stain

·      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.


World Wildlife Fund Fired Us Today

March 23rd, 2011 by Peggy Farabaugh

Tiger-conservation 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?


Vermont Eco Furniture Featured Nationally on The Weather Channel

November 22nd, 2010 by Peggy Farabaugh

Eco-sustainable-furniture 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: More Than Trees At Stake

October 10th, 2010 by Peggy Farabaugh

Rainforest Conservation

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.


Watch Us on Fox News, The Strategy Room

May 10th, 2010 by Peggy Farabaugh

Fox-news-strategy-roomThis Friday, May 14 Vermont Woods Studios will be featured live during the 9-10am segment of the nationally broadcast FOX News Show, The Strategy Room.  We're heading down to the FOX studios in Rockefeller Center to meet and talk with show host, Harris Faulkner about Vermont's fine handmade furniture, the artisans who make it and the importance of choosing American-made furniture that's built from sustainably-harvested wood.

Tune in and see us!  The show is available online as well as on some FOX stations around the country. If you can't make it for the live show, you can watch us online anytime within a week after the show.  Wish us luck!


Where Does Your Furniture Come From?

January 19th, 2010 by Peggy Farabaugh

American furniture

Are you spending more time at home these days and less time going out? If you're burrowing in for the winter, maybe now is the time to curl up on the couch, take a look at the furniture in your nest and think about where it actually came from.  See how well it meets this totally biased, arbitrary and unscientific test.

If your furniture is:                                                                                   Give Yourself

  1. Made in America:                                                                                 10 points
  2. Made of local woods and materials:                                                      30 points
  3. Handmade by local craftspeople:                                                          40 points
  4. Has non-toxic finish:                                                                               5 points
  5. Made of sustainably harvested woods and/or other organic materials:    10 points
  6. Imported from China, Vietnam, India or other third world countries:    -100 points
  7. Made from illegally harvested rainforest woods like mahogany, teak:    -100 points

What was your score?  It's hard to even know because chances are there is nothing on the furniture to provide this information.  It's a good bet, however that if you didn't go out of your way to buy American and you don't know where it came from, your furniture is probably imported, made from illegally harvested rainforest wood and crafted by slave laborers making pennies per hour.

We're trying to encourage consumers to buy American furniture, that's handcrafted here in the USA from local sustainably harvested woods, by people making a livable wage.  Oddly enough, the price is roughly the same either way. 

Check out our American made furniture at Vermont Woods Studios and compare.


Designer Kathy Ireland Collaborates with Sustainable Furniture Council

December 15th, 2009 by Peggy Farabaugh

Sustainable Furniture Council

It's been about three years since we at Vermont Woods Studios joined a handful of other green furniture companies to initiate the development of a non-profit, standard-setting group called the Sustainable Furniture Council, SFC. 

Since that day, what a success story the SFC has been in educating members and consumers about the characteristics and benefits of green, eco-friendly, environmentally safe furniture.

SFC's latest brainchild is the DesigninGreen Leadership team which consists of pre-eminent designers like Kathy Ireland, Alexander Julian, Vladimir Kagan and Tom Felicia (from Dress My Nest).  Find more about this sustainable furniture project at the SFC website.


Get In The Milkcrate!

September 30th, 2009 by Peggy Farabaugh

Isn't that a cool name for a blog?  Rebecca is our new graphic designer at Vermont Woods Studios, but we've also discovered that she's a very engaging writer.  Such a multi-talented person she is!

She's so fascinated by the behind the scenes world of custom furniture making that she's decided to blog about it and share the scoop with you. 

Why Get in the Milkcrate?  Well, it's an old Vermont saying that means get onboard, we're ready to go!  Rebecca was thinking of that every time she heard us pick up the phone and talk to customers about going green in their homes.

Are you interested in sustainable forestry and preservation of endangered species that live in the forest?  Why don't you Get in the Milkcrate and ride with us to a greener planet?


Natural Furniture and America’s Best Idea

September 30th, 2009 by Peggy Farabaugh

If you haven't been able to watch Ken Burn's new film on America's National Parks, it's not too late.  This is a six episode series and every nature lover will want to enjoy the spectacular scenery, interesting history and urgent call to action that Burns presents.  At Vermont Woods Studios being a wood furniture maker, we're particularly interested in the issues of sustainable forestry in the national parks. 

One of our favorite national parks mentioned in this film series is Sequoia National Forest.  Sequoias are the largest trees ever to inhabit the earth, growing to heights of 300 feet and diameters of 30 feet! Their ages commonly range from 2,000 to 3,000 years.  Some were 1000 years old during the time of Christ! 

Although once widespread, giant sequoias now occur only in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of central California.   If you have literally 2 minutes to spare, you can take action to protect the Giant Sequoias and other ancient forest in America.  Visit Save America's Forests, click on Instant Letter and in 2 minutes or less you can send a letter to your representatives in Congress asking them to stop destructive forms of logging, such as clearcutting, and to protect ecologically important forest areas such as Ancient forests and roadless forests.

Then pat yourself on the back for doing an awesome job in protecting the environment and fighting global warming!