Mike Rainville, president of the Vermont Wood Manufacturer's Association (VWMA) and owner of Maple Landmark Woodcraft shared this website and I thought you might be interested in it. ObeyMotherNature.com was created to help educate and serve as a resource to consumers interested in using environmentally friendly products.
Did you know that North American hardwoods are one of the most environmentally sound
materials available today? The site explains how American hardwoods like cherry, maple, oak and walnut are harvested sustainably, usually by selecting each tree individually such that the character of the forest is preserved. I was surprised to learn that over the past 50 years the volume of hardwood in American forests has
nearly doubled. Wow, how's that for sustainable forestry? It's just the opposite of what's happening in the rainforests of South America and Southeast Asia which are being clearcut at a rate of one football field per second, with no reforestation occurring.
Another cool fact is that wood products have a low carbon impact and what is called a low level of
embodied energy compared to other building materials. The
amount of energy necessary for producing wood products is low compared
to other building products made from other materials like steel,
aluminum, glass and brick.
All interesting stuff to know but at Vermont Woods Studios we realize our furniture has to be more than just a sustainable or intellectual or emotional choice. We're obsessed with making it the most beautiful and affordable choice as well.
Congratulations to our Vermont Woods Studios customers and readers who celebrated Earth hour with a candlelight dinner, a cribbage game or a relaxing chat by the fireside. You joined hundreds of millions of environmental activists around the globe who made this annual climate change awareness event a phenomenal success.
Here are some cool pictures on the Earth Hour sponsor’s (World Wildlife Fund) website that show lights out from Sydney to Bejing to New York City. You can upload and share your own photos, films, blog entries and more.
We’d love to see your photos too. Send us pictures of you enjoying a candlelight dinner seated at your Vermont Woods Studios eco-friendly table and chairs and we’ll send you a $25 gift certificate!
We’re asking all of our Vermont Woods Studios customers, vendors and friends to join us this Saturday, March 28 at 8:30pm in turning out the lights for the Third Annual International Earth Hour.
Earth Hour is World Wildlife Fund‘s global initiative where individuals, businesses and governments turn off their lights for one hour to show their support for action on climate change. Major cities across the US and around the world have committed to participate in Earth Hour 2009.
Last year, all seven continents turned out their lights in the largest climate event of all time. The movement captured the public’s imagination with lights going out at some of the world’s most iconic landmarks including:
- The Sydney Opera House
- Bangkok’s Wat Arun Buddhist temple
- The Coliseum in Rome
- Stockholm’s Royal Castle
- New York’s Empire State Building
- Sears Tower in Chicago and the
- Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
Even Google’s homepage went dark.
What does Climate Change have to do with Green Furniture and why are we so fired up about this initiative?
Believe it or not, 20% of global climate change is caused by deforestation. As woodworkers, we’ve been reaching out to educate others about the need to preserve the forests. Not just the temperate forests in which we live and work, but particularly, the world’s rapidly disappearing tropical rainforests.
We all depend on the forests for our survival. They are the lungs of our planet and house many of our most precious natural resources and endangered species. Forest preservation is our passion and Earth Hour is a way to symbolize that passion. We hope you’ll join us!
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!
What are you planning for Valentine's Day? No–you can't count on the recession for an excuse to lapse or forget. Here's a link to World Wildlife Fund's FREE Valentine's email cards to help you out in recognizing all the special green people in your life.
And for those on a more generous budget,you can still surprise the love of your
life with the gift of our ultra luxury Heart-Shaped Valentines Chairs handcrafted by Steve Holman.
This figured maple chair with velvety red upholstery can be
customized to include your names, date or other creative personal touches. Like
your enduring devotion, these heirloom chairs will be around forever – or at
least for generations!
Of course these have to be the foundation of our efforts for without these basics our time and yours would be wasted. We’re not aiming for “superior”, at Vermont Woods Studios we’ll settle for nothing less than the best. We don’t want you to just be happy with your purchase, we want you to become raving fans! We need you to refer your friends and family to us and come back to us the next time you need furniture, so you will see that we are obsessed with making sure everything is just right. Check out our Testimonials page and see what I mean.
In September, 2006, I was very fortunate to be able to join with Gerry Cooklin , Susan Inglis and a small group of visionary leaders in the furniture industry to talk about the unique status the furniture industry has as the main consumer of the forest’s most precious species. That was the birth of a non-profit now called the Sustainable Furniture Council, FSC. We are now over 100 members strong, all working to educate consumers and promote sustainable practices in our industry. Vermont Woods Studios is proud to be a founding member of this world-changing group.
Well, there’s plenty of blame to go around for industries like timber, soy, beef, fertilizer, pesticide and so on. Those industries need to get going and get on The Green Train too! And as the highest value-added industry, The Furniture Industry Needs to Step up and Change the Way it Sources Product. Here’s why:
- Much of the clear-cutting of the rainforest is done to produce timber for furniture and flooring. Incredibly, up to 90% of today’s imported furniture-grade wood is illegally harvested, from the rainforest. Look around your house. If you have mahogany or teak furniture that is not certified as sustainably harvested by a third party non-profit such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) it’s a good bet that furniture came from clear-cutting the rainforest.
- China has taken over about a third of the world trade in furniture over just the last 8 years, making it the leading importer of timber from tropical rainforests. Logging practices that supply the timber are typically illegal and labor conditions are deplorable. Again, chances are if you’ve purchased furniture in the last 10 years, it was made in China of illegal wood that may have come from as far away as the Amazon in South America. Peter Goodman and Peter Finn of the Washington Post did an informative article on the shocking state of corruption and illegal logging in China and elsewhere. Read it, then get on board The Green Train!
More urgent reasons behind Vermont Woods Studios fight to save the Amazon and other rainforests:
- The Amazon Rainforest oft described as the “Lungs of our Planet”, recycles the green house gas, carbon dioxide into oxygen. More than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon!
- You won’t believe this but widespread fires in the Amazon, set intentionally to clear land for agriculture, are now making Brazil one of the world’s leading greenhouse gas producers!
- At least twenty percent of the Amazon has been cut down/slashed and burned in the last 40 years (more than in the previous 450 years of European colonization)
- Scientists predict that another 20% will be lost over the next 2 decades
- Nearly every road in the Amazon is unauthorized — cut by trespassing land sharks (with forged phony land titles) who clear the land for timber, pasture and soy production. (Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of beef and second only to the US in soybeans. Rainforest soil is not suited to these purposes, thus mass amounts of pesticides and fertilizers are used further worsening the problem)
- I’m not making this stuff up. My sources aren’t some left wing groups you’ve never heard of. Check out some of these mainstream references: National Geographic, Audobon Magazine, United Nations Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, CNN Planet in Peril. If we want to keep breathing oxygen, we’ve got to get busy and do something now! Read more and get on The Green Train.