This post is one in a series about Vermont Woods Studios’ mission of rainforest conservation and our support of Bolivian environmentalists dedicated to reforestation and ecotourism in the Amazon. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4.
A Passion for The Rainforest
I have a confession to make. I did not start Vermont Woods Studios because I had a deep, abiding love of handmade furniture. Mind you, I HAVE developed a sort of reverence for it over these past 10 years, but that wasn’t the driving force for me.
It was my passion for the rainforest that got this sustainable furniture company started.
I think it may have been Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey who initially drew me into environmental conservation in the 60s. Or maybe it was Mom, who had us kids outdoors all the time and kept a stack of National Geographic magazines handy for the rare moments we were in the house.
Anyway, for some reason, when I lost my job in 2005 I decided to quit the corporate world and get back to my youthful aspirations of doing something “green”. I had become convinced that our generation’s most important conservation priority was to preserve the world’s rapidly disappearing rainforests. I wanted to focus the rest of my working life helping people understand the tragedy of this loss and the fact that they could do something about it.
Ken had just finished building a woodworking shop on the back of our house. I thought maybe we could marry his woodworking background with my love of the rainforest to create a new kind of green business. After several attempts and stumbles we came up with Vermont Woods Studios: a website where Vermont furniture makers could market and sell furniture made from sustainably harvested wood.
The company would be a vehicle to help us persuade people to stop buying furniture and flooring made with illegally harvested rainforest wood.
Not That Easy Being Green
But soon reality hit and although I was always guided by conservation, I quickly learned that small businesses don’t have a lot of time or money for environmental projects. We did what we could… making support of environmental non-profits (like the World Wildlife Fund, the Rainforest Alliance, Vermont Center for EcoStudies and many others in our own community) a cornerstone of our business. We also work with The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees project to plant a tree for every furniture order we take. And a number of times we’ve traveled to the rainforests of Costa Rica and Panama where we did some volunteering.
In retrospect I can say that we have made progress on our mission.
But I feel like we’ve fallen short in getting the word out that how we build and furnish our homes has a huge impact on the future of our planet.
We have to figure out how to spotlight the difference consumers can make by choosing sustainably harvested wood flooring and furniture as opposed to that made from illegally harvested rainforest woods (think: Lumber Liquidators and Ikea).
A Trip to The Amazon
So I’m taking a trip to the Amazon rainforest.
It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but never had the opportunity. Next post I’ll share how this trip came about and what I hope to accomplish. I am so grateful to our customers, employees and other allies who have supported our business throughout these 10 years, thus making such an endeavor possible.
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