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.
Naturally, as wood furniture makers, we at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture have to be concerned about forest conservation. It's the foundation of our company's viability.
Although our Green Mountain Forests in Vermont are healthy and sustainable we know that, from a global perspective deforestation is the Number 1 environmental problem on our planet today. Deforestation is a huge contributor to global warming, climate change, air pollution (carbon and other emissions from slash and burn practices), habitat loss, biodiversity loss, pollution of marine habitats (due to run-off from pesticides and fertilizers used to transform diverse forests into mono-cultured plantations) and more.
So at Vermont Woods Studios, we are working with The Nature Conservancy in support of their Plant A Billion Trees project. We plant one tree for every order we fulfill and we support many non-profits dedicated to forest conservation.
We appreciate your concern for the environment. When you buy wood furniture from us, you can rest assured that the forest where your furniture began it's life, will still be around for generations to come. As will your furniture!
Every June 5 since 1972 has been designated by the United Nations as World Environment Day. The annual event is aimed at being the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental change.
This year's theme for WED is Forests: Nature at Your Service. As an organization that depends on wood as a natural resource, Vermont Woods Studios Furniture places forest conservation at the heart of our mission so we are pleased to support and celebrate this day.
Sometimes when I talk about forest conservation, I can see peoples' eyes glazing over, but when I revisit Forest Facts like these offered up on the WED website I remember the primary reason why we started Vermont Woods Studios in the first place:
- Forests cover 1/3 of the earth’s land mass, performing vital functions and services around the world which make our planet alive with possibilities
- 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods
- Forests play a key role in our battle against climate change, releasing oxygen into the atmosphere while storing carbon dioxide
- Forests feed our rivers and are essential to supplying the water for nearly 50% of our largest cities
- Forests create and maintain soil fertility; they help to regulate the often devastating impact of storms, floods and fires
- Forests are the most biologically diverse ecosystems on land, and are home to more than half of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects
- Forests also provide shelter, jobs, security and cultural relevance for forest-dependent populations
- Forests are the green lungs of the earth, vital to the survival of people everywhere — all seven billion of us.
Today we honor many of our friends and colleagues at the organizations worldwide that work to protect the forests and the people and animals who call them home, including ForestEthics, World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy and Ecological Internet. I'm heading our for a walk in the woods this afternoon. I hope you'll have a chance to do the same very soon because when you do, I think maybe you'll feel the same way I do about Forest Conservation.
Have you ever thought about where your wood furniture comes from? Over the past few decades, the organic food movement has made us ask questions about the origin of our food. Now the fundamental concerns voiced in that movement are being extrapolated to the furniture and flooring industries. People want to know where their furniture comes from and what they're finding out is often more disturbing than the facts that were uncovered regarding the origins of our food.
For facts about the origin of your furniture, check out Vermont Woods Studios' latest article on American Wood Furniture and Global Forest Conservation at Ezine.
Been waiting to purchase that fine furniture you’ve been lusting after all these many months or even years? Well, wait no more! Here’s a great reason to finalize your decisions and get your house in order today.
Vermont Woods Studios is launching it’s Fifteen Percent For the Forest initiative and Eco Furniture Sale. From Earth Day, April 22 until the Summer Solstice on June 21, 15% percent of the profits from all furniture purchased will be donated to charitable organizations working to protect the forest environment.
Choose which organization you would like to benefit from your purchase, including our favorites:
Vermont Center for Ecostudies
Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center
Northeast Wilderness Trust
World Wildlife Fund
Vermont Family Forests
Or suggest your own favorite. As long as it is a bonafide non-profit organization, working to preserve forestlands, it’s good to go. Give us a call at 888-390-5571 for more details.
Start your shopping today! It takes awhile to find the perfect furniture for your space, especially if you have any customization in mind. The initiative ends in June. What are you waiting for?
Forest conservation is a big part of our mission at Vermont Woods Studios. All of our furniture is made from sustainably harvested wood and we donate a portion of the proceeds of each sale to non-profit groups working to preserve the forest.
So when I read a recent article in Audubon Magazine (by T. Edward nickens) about the damage that’s happening to our forests as a result of junk mail production, I felt we should get on board and do something to help. Would you believe that:
Over 100 Billion pieces of junk mail are delivered to Americans each year (>800 pieces per household, almost half of which goes directly to the landfill without even being opened)
It takes over 100 million trees to produce this junk mail (that’s equivalent to clear-cutting the entire Rocky Mountain National Park every 4 months)
The manufacture of this junk mail releases more greenhouse gas emissions per year than the emissions released by 9.4 million average passenger cars
The Canadian Boreal forest (home to caribou, grizzly bears, wolves and 40% of North America’s waterfowl) and Indonesia’s tropical rainforests (home to numerous critically endangered species including orangutans and tigers) are particularly at risk from junk mail producers, harvesting wood in these areas.
Want to help solve the junk mail problem? The non-profit group, Forest Ethics has an online petition you can sign, asking Congress for a Do Not Mail registry, similar to the Do Not Call registry. That would be great, wouldn’t it?
In the meantime, here is a fantastic website where you can quickly and easily eliminate most of your junk mail, right now…it’s Catalog Choice.
Just sign up and select the catalogs you don’t want to receive. Voila! Your name is off their lists. Take action right NOW and help save the earth’s forests. You’ll be protecting endangered species and indigenous peoples AND helping to stem global climate change. You’re going to feel really good about yourself today!