Yesterday I wrote about Vermont's Lyndon Furniture, one of America's most admired green furniture companies– and one that has remained in America throughout the offshoring exodus of the last 40 years.
Lyndon's owner and founder, Dave Allard is shown here in Vermont's Green Mountain Forest with some of his hardwood creations.
We interviewed Dave yesterday to learn more about why Lyndon Furniture is considered one of America's greenest furniture companies and here's the second half of Dave's response:
Sustainably Harvested Hardwoods – Lyndon furniture is made with choice hardwoods such as natural Cherry, Maple, Oak, or Walnut which are harvested through sustainable forestry practices. The predominant method is Single Tree Selection where trained foresters select individual trees for harvesting. The cut logs are then removed with the least disruption to the surrounding environment. This method creates openings in the forest canopy allowing more precipitation, sunlight, and nutrients to reach the forest floor ensuring the health of other trees. Responsible forest management takes into consideration long term timber production, while addressing water quality, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, forest aesthetics and recreational opportunities. The same can’t always be said for Asian or Rainforest woods where responsible forest management practices often take a back seat to maximizing profits.
Green Furniture Finishes – Lyndon's furniture finishes and stains are all made in Vermont. Vermont has some of the strictest environmental laws in the country which coincide with our views and respect of nature. Consequently our finishes have far lower VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and HAPs (Hazardous Air Pollutants) than current American industry standards, and far exceed the standards of imported products.
Sustainable Manufacturing – Lyndon Furniture has an extensive recycling program. We recycle paper, cardboard, metal and wood waste. Most materials (with the exception of the wood waste) are picked up by our local recycling center for proper material reintegration. Wood scrap is utilized as a biomass heating source (which has allowed Lyndon to drastically reduce oil usage) while sawdust is used by local farms for animal bedding. We have also made significant investments in energy efficiency to reduce our costs, and more importantly our carbon footprint.
At a time when it seems every furniture company is "going green" it's nice to know that Lyndon Furniture and their fellow Vermont furniture makers actually have a history of using green practices from the start.
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!
At Vermont Woods Studios Sustainable Furniture we've been working with the Vermont Working Landscape Partnership to develop an Action Plan to create a rural renaissance in Vermont that focuses economic development efforts on our working landscape. Right now we have a tremendous opportunity to build our working lands economy (farming, forestry, and value-added processing like furniture making) into a cornerstone of job creation and rural revitalization.
Many of the pieces needed for a Renaissance of our farm and forest economies are already in place. More and more people in our regional market are looking for sustainably produced products, such as our Vermont Made Furniture. But the Vermont Working Landscape Partnership needs our support in bringing some remaining pieces together.
The Vermont Working Landscape Action Plan defines what those pieces are and how we can pull all of those opportunities, policies, and new plans into one unified, efficient and effective effort. If you live in Vermont or vacation here, you are a stakeholder in this plan. We know that without taking action the landscape of Vermont will evolve rapidly and probably not in a way we would want.
Stakeholders, please take a minute to read the plan and offer your support. Thanks!
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.
I guess most people don't really think about where their furniture comes from. We do at Vermont Woods Studios Furniture, and we're pretty persnickety about it.
Our furniture is handcrafted of sustainably harvested solid wood, ie., the wood is harvested in America from local and regional forests that are professionally managed such that they will still be around for generations.
Why do we care?
We actually got into this business as an offshoot of a non-profit I started 10 years ago, Kids Saving the Planet KSP. It's a project designed to make environmental education fun and engaging. I soon learned though, how difficult it is to secure funding for non-profits so I started to think about creating a business that would one day be able to significantly contribute to KSP. Vermont Woods Studios is what evolved. The common thread is sustainable forestry– what I feel is one of the top 3 most important environmental issues of our time.
National Geographic's Traveler Magazine does a survey every year of the world's most desirable destinations for sustainable travel and little old Vermont ranked #6 in the WORLD for stewardship destinations. Vermont was the only USA destination ranking in the Top Ten:
"More than any American state, Vermont has worked to preserve those qualities that make it unique," such as scenic countryside, lively small towns, historic streetscapes, local businesses. A tourist magnet in summer, it nonetheless "never seems overrun by visitors."
The Vermont Woodlands Association has to take some of the credit for this distinction. I'm just reading their winter newsletter and as usual, I'm impressed and inspired by their tireless work to protect and steward our forests for future generations. Here's one of the many interesting facts presented on the VWA website:
"In Vermont, the net growth of trees has exceeded removal since the first inventory in 1948. About twice as much wood has been grown than was cut or otherwise removed." How's that for sustainable forestry management?
VWA conducts all sorts of forestry workshops, fieldtrips, events and classes. Check out their education schedule.
And Hats off to Put Blodgett, Al Robertson and all of the staff and volunteers at VWA!
Wondering how to select the right hardwood for your furniture? For most of our customers, wood color is the first priority when selecting a hardwood, followed by strength and durability. At Vermont Woods Studios we offer exclusively American hardwoods that are harvested responsibly from well managed forests.
One of the characteristics that customers are often surprised about is that some woods change colors over time, as they are exposed to light. Black cherry is the most notable of these woods. It can start out almost as light as maple wood, but over time it will mature and ripen to a deep, rich reddish brown color.
Have any questions about furniture hardwoods? Give us a call! We'll look forward to hearing from you.