Last updated on July 21st, 2022 at 11:42 am
We’ve had a few customers find us lately, because they’re looking for “responsible furniture”. After thinking about that term, I googled it and not much came up. So I’m taking a shot at breaking it down. Ken and I started Vermont Woods Studios with the goal of serving people who want responsible, eco-friendly, locally crafted, wooden furniture. In that spirit, here’s what I came up with in the who, what, where, when, why and how department of responsibly made furniture.
Why Responsible Furniture?
Since you’ve made it to our blog, you probably live a a sustainable lifestyle and practice Ethical Consumerism. You think about your impact every time you make a purchase and you spend in a way that aligns with your values. Maybe you’re well versed in sustainable options for your car, your food and your energy and now you’re turning your attention to your furniture. You know the furniture industry is notorious for poor environmental practices and you want to avoid that. You want to live your values– that’s the why of responsible furniture.
What is Responsible Furniture?
In my mind, the relevant authority is the Sustainable Furnishings Council. The SFC is a coalition of manufacturers, retailers and designers dedicated to expanding the adoption of environmentally sustainable practices across the home furnishings industry. SFC defines responsible, “sustainable”, “environmentally-safe”, “eco-friendly” furniture as that which is made and distributed in ways that protect our planet… ways that minimize carbon emissions, waste stream pollutants, un-recyclable content and materials from unsustainable sources. It’s furniture you can feel good about bringing into your home and that includes vintage & used furniture from the thrift store. The SFC evaluates the authenticity of responsible furniture makers using their Wood Furniture Scorecard.
Who Makes It and How?
I’m sure there is plenty of sustainable furniture made around the world but the fact is that most furniture imports in US markets are not made responsibly. Oftentimes the wood is harvested illegally, the labor is forced, the finishing materials are toxic and a great deal of oil is expended to ship it to you. Here in the USA, responsible furniture is made locally by small American furniture companies. It’s made by American craftspeople who earn a fair wage. It’s made with materials that are developed sustainably. It doesn’t contribute to climate change. It’s made in workshops or factories that practice energy efficiency, waste minimization and circular economic principles.
Where Can I Buy Sustainable Furniture?
Buy locally. You’ll be surprised how many furniture makers are in your area, hoping for you to stop by their shop or give them a call. A google search should get you off to a good start in finding the best match for your needs. Barring that, come visit us at Vermont Woods Studios! We are the experts in American made wood furniture and we deliver locally, regionally and nationally. All of our wood is harvested sustainably in well managed North American forests and we plant tree saplings to replace those we harvest. Our craftspeople are almost all right here in Vermont and we back their furniture with a lifetime guarantee. It will never end up in a landfill.
When’s the Best Time to Buy Responsible Furniture?
With responsible furniture, you’re not really looking for a sort of Amazon Prime Day or Wayfair Wayday. Those 70% off sales are only made possible through unspoken subsidies paid by makers and the environment. The deep discount often means the maker had to sell at a loss and/or the resources were stolen from land that was destroyed and left barren. The best time to buy responsible furniture is when you need it. Or, during these post-pandemic days, several months prior to when you need it. Lead times for local, American made furniture are still abnormally long due to supply chain issues and labor shortages. Try to plan ahead and buy before your need becomes desperate.
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