Buying new hardwood flooring? Tips for buying sustainably harvested wood.
Buying new hardwood flooring?  Ask if it’s made from legal sustainably harvested wood.  Watch tonight’s Global News documentary to see why.

As a sustainable wood furniture company, we don’t usually have much to say about hardwood flooring.  But recent news & events in this area are so compelling I thought our readers would be interested to hear a few details.

Hardwood Flooring, Lumber Liquidators and the Forest
A report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals that Lumber Liquidators (America’s largest retailer of hardwood flooring) is under investigation by federal authorities for possible violations of the Lacey Act – a law banning the illegal harvest and trade of wood and timber products.

Hardwood Flooring and the Future of the Forest

Every year about 7.5 billion square feet of flooring is purchased in the USA (Freedonia).  If it takes roughly 1 acre of forest to produce 500 sq ft of flooring (UN Report by TimberGreen) then by my calculations it would take about 15 million acres to produce 7.5 billion sq ft of flooring (the amount sold annually in the USA).  By comparison, the state of Vermont is 5.9 million acres so each year an area of forest about 2.5 times the size of Vermont is logged to supply the American wood flooring industry.  Granted, my calculation is mushy and imprecise but even so, it begs the question: where is all that hardwood flooring come from?

Where Does Your Hardwood Flooring Come From?

We always encourage people to buy American made wood furniture because we know that environmental, health, safety and quality standards are high here in The States.  The same is true for American made wood flooring, but that integrity built into American made wood products makes them more expensive than imports.  So, not surprisingly about half of the hardwood flooring in America is imported (USITC Publication 4032).

The Siberian Tiger's Fate Rests with Lumber Liquidators?
The Siberian Tiger’s Fate Rests with you, the consumer and global timber companies like Lumber Liquidators.

The Trouble with Imported Wood

The imported wood products industry is now controlled to a large extent by organized crime.  A recent report Liquidating the Forests: Hardwood Flooring, Organized Crime, and the World’s Last Siberian Tigers reveals that “demand for hardwood flooring and furniture in the United States, European Union, Japan, and China is fueling corruption and making the world’s last temperate hardwood forests into a major epicenter for illegal logging… Organized criminal groups send out logging brigades to steal valuable hardwoods from protected areas” thus decimating the last remaining habitats for iconic species like the Siberian tiger (in fact all species of big cats are now critically endangered as are all species of big apes, such as gorillas, chimps and orangutans).

Consumers Will Ultimately Decide the Fate of the Forest

As consumers we need to ask ourselves whether we want to buy the cheapest wood products we can without regard to the legality or sustainability of their origins.  Think about it. How could it be that hardwood flooring from the rainforest of South America or the Russian Far East is half the price of local hardwood flooring?

There is a high price being paid for these bargains– we just don’t see it.  Check out this video to see what the real price is, in terms of irreparable environmental damage. I’m betting, it’s a price you’re not willing to pay.

What You Can Do To Help

Maybe you’re not in the market for hardwood furniture or flooring but you still want to help protect the forest and it’s inhabitants.  Join the folks at Sierra Club in signing this petition to enforce the Lacey Act which seeks to eliminate trafficking in illegal wood products and penalize those who import illegally harvested wood products and wildlife.  Sign it today!

References

  1. EIA (Environmental Investigation Agency), Liquidating the Forests: Hardwood Furniture & Flooring, Organized Crime, and the World’s Last Siberian Tigers
  2. Timber, a book by Peter Dauvergne and Jane Lister
  3. TV Documentary, “Liquidating the Forests
  4. Global Tiger Day, Organized Crime and Timber (the New Heroin)
  5. IKEA Cuts Down 600 Year Old Trees, Suspended From FSC
  6. American Wood Furniture Is Linked To Global Forest Conservation
  7. Where Does Your Furniture Come From?
  8. Is Your Wood Furniture Brought to You by Organized Crime?
  9. Organized Crime Is Getting Rich By Cutting Down The Rainforest

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.

Global Tiger Day | Sustainable Forest Products Help Save Tigers
Tigers are running out of space and time with only 7% of their habitat remaining.  Your decisions about buying furniture flooring and even paper, coffee and other forest products can help save them.

July 29th is Global Tiger Day. Did you know there is a direct connection between tiger conservation and the furniture and flooring you buy for your home?  Companies like IKEA, Home Depot and WalMart sell wooden furniture and flooring that are often obtained through illegal logging in protected tiger habitats.  Much of the global timber trade is now managed by organized crime.  Sources, including George Mason University and The Washington Post are reporting that the global timber trade is the new heroin industry for organized crime.  Tiger habitats are being rapidly and systematically destroyed in Russia, China, Malaysia and elsewhere to provide the cheap, imported wooden furniture and flooring that’s sold in America’s big box stores.

As a result, some scientists predict that the last remaining 3200 wild tigers (down from 100,000 just a century ago) will be entirely extinct in 5 years.

Is There Any Way to Save the Tiger?

As an apex predator, the tiger is one of the most important animals in all of human history.  If you love tigers, have a look at the World Wildlife Fund’s initiative to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger.  You can support the effort by purchasing sustainable products.  At Vermont Woods Studios, we promote American made furniture as it is almost always made with North American wood, harvested from well managed forests.  We’re using our new Stonehurst fine furniture and art gallery to raise awareness about where your furniture comes from and persuade people to purchase furniture and flooring made from sustainably harvested wood.

For more information on tiger conservation, check out this preview of Siberian Tiger Quest, currently airing on PBS Nature and hop over to Facebook to like WWF’s Tiger page.

Tigers are running out of space and time with only 7% of their habitat remaining but your decisions about buying furniture flooring and even paper, coffee and other forest products can help save them.  It’s not too late!  Please like our Tiger conservation initiative on Facebook and share this post with your friends.  Thanks!

 

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.

 

Tigers-conservation

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.

 

 

Tigers-wwf-adoption

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. 

It's time to turn over a new leaf.

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.

Scroll down to see how our Manifesto evloved

Today the World Wildlife Fund reports that after losing nearly 70 per cent of its forest habitat and half its population in one generation, the Sumatran elephant is heading for imminent extinction due to deforestation and habitat loss.

These elephants are not alone.  According to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, 3-5 species become extinct every hour of every day. That’s up to 45,000 species every year!

What we’re doing at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture is trying to raise awareness about the how your choices as a consumer directly affect the extinction of endangered species like the Sumatran elephant.  If you can avoid buying imported forest products, especially wood furniture and flooring (if it’s not clearly labelled Made in America–pretty much any furniture you’ll find at Home Depot, Walmart, Bob’s, Lowe’s or other big box stores is imported) you’ll be doing your part to lessen global deforestation and destruction of the habitat these elephants live in.

What else are we doing?

We support a number of projects to save endangered species.  Here’s one I was pretty excited about last week:  when I was on the Vernon Selectboard a few years back, our town partnered with the Vermont Division of Fish and Wildlife DFW to protect habitat and save the critically endangered spotted turtle from extinction.  Last week we were able to celebrate our work.  It’s 6 or 7 years later, but finally through a long process, the turtle habitat is being cared for and hopefully we’ll start to see their population come back.

How about you?  Tell us what you’re doing in the comments below or on our Vermont Furniture Facebook.

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.

Tiger-conservationTigers are my favorite animals.  We've done a few promotions trying to raise awareness about the fact that they are critically endangered due to habitat loss.  Tiger conservation is linked to the wood furniture industry: much of the wood that is being used in imported furniture is clear cut from the rapidly disappearing habitats of Siberian, Bengal and other species of tiger.

Anyway I was really upset to see the massacre of tigers, lions, bears, monkeys and other exotic animals in Zanesville OH yesterday.   ABC News featured a story about the importance of states passing laws prohibiting the purchase and sale of exotic animals, citing Born Free USA as a good place to learn more about the issue and take action.

Here's another way you can help protect exotic wildlife, right now and it only takes one minute and doesn't cost a penny.  Go to Big Cat Rescue and click over to the US Government comment form regarding pending legislation from the US Fish and Wildlife Service about illegal trade in tiger parts.  Enter your contact information on the form, then copy this phrase into the comment form:  End the Trade in Generic Tigers!  Please Rescind the Generic Tiger Exemption.  So often we see these tragic stories in the news but we feel helpless to do anything about it.  Here's a way you can make a 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.