Customers often come to us because they're shopping for eco-friendly, sustainable furniture. At Vermont Woods Studios, our mission is founded on environmental and social responsibility so we find ourselves discussing FSC certification and other aspects of sustainable furniture almost every day. Here are some of the basics on FSC:
What is FSC?
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent,
non-governmental, not-for-profit organization that promotes responsible
management of the world's forests. It is widely regarded as one of the
most important initiatives to promote responsible forest management
worldwide. It places a special emphasis on rainforest conservation.
L to R photo credits: Reststart Forestry, Allard Lumber, Wayne Fawbush, Ellen Kahler, Copeland Furniture, via the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund.
by environmental groups in 1993 FSC manages an international standard
for well-managed forests and a process for tracking and certifying wood
furniture, flooring and other products derived from those forests. FSC
addresses numerous aspects of sustainable forestry, including ecological
issues, old-growth forests, plantations, restoration, biodiversity,
native habitat, indigenous people's rights, and sound management for
The FSC label provides certification of the
chain of links between the forest where a product originates and the
consumer. For example with wood furniture, each of the following
businesses involved in transforming a tree into a piece of furniture
would have to be FSC certified in order for that furniture piece to be
FSC certified. It's called the "chain of custody":
- Certified forest owner- Must employ a professional forester and
develop a forest management plan which meets stringent ecological and
- Certified logger and sawyer
- Certified lumber wholesaler
- Certified lumber retailer
- Certified furniture maker
- Certified furniture retailer
Benefits of FSC Certification
In my opinion, FSC provides the most rigorous certification process
available. It's widely considered the gold standard in sustainable
forestry and has moved the world forward in many areas of rainforest
Copeland's Harbor Island Furniture collection is handmade here in VT with FSC certified maple wood from local Vermont trees.
Challenges for FSC As you might expect FSC
certification involves extensive rule-making and auditing that can be
quite expensive (and controversial) to implement. It can add up to 50% to the price of the
end product although the hope is that this cost will decrease as FSC
certification becomes more mainstream. Still many small manufacturers
are unable to assume this cost and are thus not FSC certified.
challenge for FSC is the rampant counterfeiting of FSC documentation
accompanying raw lumber that is being illegally clear cut from the
Amazon and other endangered areas of rainforest. Also FSC has been
criticized for being too lenient,
particularly with their policy allowing limited old growth logging.
Should You Buy Only FSC Certified Furniture?
Authentic FSC certified furniture is a responsible choice for the
eco-conscious homeowner. However there are many genuinely responsible,
green, eco-friendly furniture makers who are not FSC certified due to
the red tape and expense involved. Conversely there is a large market of fake, FSC
labeled furniture that comes to us through layers of corruption
In Vermont, many of us who were certified by FSC for years have been moving away from it lately. Not because we don't support the ideal, but because we have so many other systems in place that effectively ensure our furniture is authentically green and sustainable. At Vermont Woods Studios not all of our furniture is FSC certified, but it is all made from sustainably harvested wood from local and regional forests.
If FSC certification is important to you, check out Copeland's Harbor Island Furniture collection. It's handmade here in VT with FSC certified maple from local Vermont trees. And let us know on our Facebook or in the comments section below how you feel about FSC certification.
Happy Birthday Loryn! Nice decorations— they remind me of an episode of The Office
. Next year we'll put someone other than Kendall in charge of party planning.
We celebrated Loryn's birthday this week. I think if the decorations had been up to me I'd have made a more colorful choice, but for some reason, Kendall was put in charge.
So Loryn got deflated black, brown and gray balloons. And a festive sign (that Kendall obviously worked very hard at): "It is your birthday". You can't really see much of the trophy she was presented with, but it says "Fine Work Award".
If you're not a fanatical fan of "The Office" (like some in our workplace), I can tell you that the decorating ideas were borrowed from an episode where the guys in The Office were put in charge of party planning. What can I say? It wasn't pretty in Scranton and neither is it in Vernon, VT.
But Loryn did get a kick out of it and we had a productive day at Vermont Woods Studios in spite of the occasional clowning around.
Happy Birthday Loryn!
Nice job on the cake, Manjula. Thanks!
Here's a closely guarded secret for summer travelers ambling through Southern Vermont: the areas best sweet corn is now available at the Vernon farm stand on VT Route 142, just a couple hundred feet north of the Mass border. It won't break the bank at $4/dozen.
It's been such a hot, dry summer in Vermont this year. I know (from following fellow Vermonter, Bill McKibbon's work at 350.org) there is much to fear with global warming. Bu I can't complain about getting the world's best sweet corn a month early this year.
Stop by this quaint farmstand on Vermont Route 142, at the Massachusetts border if you're looking to grace your dinner table with a fresh, local delicacy. You won't be disappointed.
Today was designated Global Tiger Day at the Tiger Summit, held in November 2010 in St. Petersburg, Russia by the 13 countries that still have tiger populations.
Tigers are some of the most endangered creatures on our planet. Only about 3200 tigers remain in the wild. They are such icons of beauty, grace and strength. Can you imagine a world without tigers?
At Vermont Woods Studios we support the World Wildlife Fund WWF Save Tigers Now project whose goal is to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger. I hope you'll consider joining us by making a small donation and spreading the word to your friends and family. Together we can preserve this incredible treasure for future generations.
Learn how your furniture purchases are linked to tiger conservation here.
View or download a beautiful infographic on tiger conservation here.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but it's still frustrating to see people take your work, copy it and sell it as their own. Unfortunately the Internet has made that a full time job for many companies around the globe.
The latest copycat we've come across is a company calling themselves American Eco Furniture. See any similarities in our logos? Our Vermont Woods Studios logo (above) has three trees made with thumbprints to signify the handcrafted nature of our furniture. The trunk on each tree is unique to convey that our furniture makers are independent, with their own styles, designs and crafting techniques. Our American made furniture is carefully handcrafted in Vermont of solid, sustainably harvested wood. It's guaranteed for a lifetime. It truly is the real thing.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but it's still frustrating to see people take your work, copy it and try to sell it as their own. Contrary to the information on their website, most of the furniture sold by this copycat is neither eco-friendly nor American made.
By contrast, most of the furniture sold by this company is neither American made nor eco friendly.
It turns out that we can have attorneys go after this company (and the many others like it) but I'm not sure we can afford to take our focus off making Vermont Woods Studios best in it's class– in order to chase them down. It's kind of like that "Whack-A Mole" game. New scams just keep popping up.
I can't help humming that old song by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Remember it? Ain't Nothin Like The Real Thing, Baby.
So I just have to hope consumers aren't getting us confused with the fly-by-nights. In talking with our customers we've learned they typically spend 3-4 months shopping and researching before they make an investment in American handmade furniture. I think that's what it takes anymore to make sure you're getting the real thing.
What do you think? Drop us a line in the comments section below or on our Facebook. We love hearing from you!
By Loryn Dion
Here at Vermont Woods Studios, a big part of our mission is to support and give back to our local and global community, specifically to those that are helping to better our world through forest conservation. While many companies and organizations promote a similar cause in their missions, VWS staff members like to do more than just write out a check or sit in the office talking about our plans but not physically putting them into action.
Thursday, the folks at the Bonnyvale Environmental Educational Center (BEEC) welcomed Peggy and me to their beautiful sanctuary, a vacation away from the hustle and bustle of the average work day. BEEC is a member-based, nonprofit organization founded with the mission to develop a more ecologically informed citizenry through education and action in order to enhance and sustain the vitality of southern Vermont’s bioregion. BEEC’s land and facilities include 100 acres of mature forests, open pasture lands, hiking trails, sweeping hilltop views, and a classroom and office, all situated in a beautiful rural setting less than 10 minutes from downtown Brattleboro.
BEEC also coordinates and leads important community-based environmental research and conservation programs, including watershed stewardship, reptile and amphibian conservation initiatives, and biodiversity planning and protection.
Check out those hill tops!
We traveled to BEEC for a meeting with Patti Smith and Belle Coles, two staff members of BEEC, to brainstorm some ideas for a partnership between our organizations. BEEC has some fantastic programs that they organize throughout the year and they are always looking for volunteers and sponsors. Vermont Woods Studios is hoping to help them out with one or more of these projects in the not-so-distant future.
Although Peggy and I were there on “business,” we were able to go on a nice hike to see the amazing views of the Vermont landscape and meet a lazy little possum named “Samuel Gompers.” Samuel and his siblings were rescued when they were just babies after they lost their parents. Samuel is very happy at his home with BEEC staff and enjoys eating blueberries and Japanese Beetles! I’d say this was a very successful business meeting!
If you’re interested in helping out too, the next big event that BEEC is holding their annual Hike-A-Thon. Last year, they raised over $1400 through the fundraiser. To learn more about BEEC’s projects, check out the event calendar on their Web site.
And to learn more about our participation in a future BEEC project, keep following our blog or follow us on Facebook!
Mr. Samuel Gompers
Loryn Dion is a Marketing Assistant at Vermont Woods Studios, an online furniture gallery which showcases Vermont’s finest wood furniture. Follow our blog to learn about Vermont fine furniture, Vermont happenings, our mission, and our team.
This tree house looks a lot different from the one in my back yard. Architect Scott Anderson of The Anderson Studio of Architecture and Design
created a zen-like dwelling incorporating a live-edge side table, root-ball bases on the coffee table and natural finishe into the green decor.
In browsing through my weekly Houzz Tour I came across this incredible tree house designed by architect Scott Anderson of The Anderson Studio of Architecture and Design. Fellow green furniture fans, check it out!
I send my thanks to blogger Becky Harris for featuring the South Carolina, Kiawah Island retreat on Houzz, the world's latest and greatest interior design website.
I love the tree house's clean, green, Zen-like decor. "The great room feels like some sort of natural habitat; besides the great views, a live-edge side table, root-ball bases on the coffee table, plants, natural finishes and plenty of open space connect the space to its surroundings" notes Becky.
As live edge furniture makers and natural finish afficionados we stood up and cheered when we saw this green respite in the trees of Kiawah Island. Congratulations to Anderson Studio for achieving the ultimate in tree house decor!
And speaking of tree houses, I couldn't close without mentioning James Roth, cofounder of The Treehouse Guys in Warren, Vermont. Roth and his company have built 34 wheelchair accessible treehouses in private camps and public parks across the country. Have a look at some of Roths amazing works of art that let everyone, "no matter their physical ability, experience the joy of what it’s like to ‘climb’ and be at the top of a treehouse.”
Above are the newest Vermont Woods Studios
superstars who design, build and operate our online furniture store. They are from left to right: Taegen Fletcher, Heather Gantt, (Peggy Farabaugh), Heather Barrett, Trenton Fletcher, Loryn Dion, Liz Francese and Kendall Farabaugh. All are wishing you a great holiday!
All of us here at Vermont Woods Studios are wishing you a safe and happy Fourth of July.
The staff is taking today off to enjoy with their families but our 4th of July Furniture Sale is on 24/7 if you would like to shop or make a purchase. We'll be back in the showroom tomorrow to work with you directly and answer any questions you may have.
Happy Fourth and thanks for your continued support of our work!
Many thanks to Susan Shanoff who baked us chocolate cupcakes to celebrate our milestone of 1000 likes on Facebook today. They were delicious, Susan!
And we are grateful to you too: our customers, friends, relatives, craftspeople, vendors and neighbors. It's exciting to see our Vermont furniture community grow through social media as we learn how to connect with the people who share our passions.
If you haven't already found us on Facebook, jump over and have a look! Heather B and Kendall are working hard to make our page beautiful and fill it with all kinds of information and photos you might find valuable. It's not just about furniture, although we do occasionally showcase new products and discount coupons there. But Heather and Kendall are also talking about all things Vermont: travel events, summer festivals, local wines and cheeses, farmers markets and more. Come and join the conversation!
90% of tiger habitat has been destroyed world-wide, much of it by illegal logging that supports the imported furniture industry. Avoiding imported wood products (furniture, flooring, siding, millwork, etc) helps protect tigers and other endangered species of the forest. For many of us, living in harmony with nature includes opting for American furniture made with local, legal wood.
I got an email from our friends at World Wildlife Fund WWF today that thought I'd share with you. WWF has always been my favorite charity, with a great mission of "building a future in which people live in harmony with nature."
Today's email was about saving tigers. They urgently need our help and this week has been designated Tiger Week to focus attention on their plight. The world's wild tiger population is at an all-time low, dropping over 97% (from 100,000 to as few as 3,200 today) in the last century. Demand for tiger parts in some Asian countries is resulting in poaching and trade that is emptying forests of the last wild tigers. Three tiger subspecies—Bali, Javan, and Caspian—have already been wiped out and 90% of tiger habitat has been destroyed. The South China tiger is close to extinction and all of the five other remaining subspecies are in danger of the same fate. Can you imagine a world without tigers? Not on our watch, right?
The WWF is working to save the tiger and you can help. It takes just 10 seconds and $10: text TIGERS to 20222 to join the movement to save the tiger. Learn more about tiger conservation and how your lifestyle affects their habitat on our website. Yes we can live in harmony with nature.