Sustainably managing forests is nothing new in Vermont. According to the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, 75% of the landmass in our state is forest land. Over 2,000 businesses in the state rely on those forests to generate ~$1.5B in annual revenue.
“Vermont’s forest products industry generates an annual economic output of $1.5 billion and supports 10,000 jobs in forestry, logging, processing, specialty woodworking, construction, and wood heating. In addition, Vermont’s forest recreation economy (skiing, etc) generates another $1.9 billion in economic output, and supports 10,000 additional jobs.” – VSJF
Despite all the economic activity dependent on our forests, they’re still growing in size and density.
We believe that practices are genuinely sustainable when they meet the needs of people, protect the planet, and create economic impact. As leaders in our industry, our goal is to highlight the innovative (and traditional) best practices that make it possible for wood furniture making to sustain itself for generations to come. Read part one of our triple bottom line sustainability series on people here.
Illegal logging and widespread deforestation has already begun to affect our climate and ecosystem. Rainforests that once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface now cover a mere 6%. The last remaining rainforests could be gone in less than 40 years. Rainforest deforestation is destroying or severely threatening nearly half of the world’s species of plants and animals over the next 25 years.
It’s Easier to Shop For Eco-Friendly Furniture This Holiday Season Than You Might Think
The effects of climate change are real. You can see it in the flooded streets of Miami or the wildfires in the midwest and west coasts or the droughts across the entire country. It’s undeniable that weather is getting more extreme each year. But, we’re not climate experts. We’re here to let you know there’s a way to positively impact the environment and that’s by purchasing truly eco-friendly furniture.
What are the most important things you’re looking for when you buy new furniture? I’m going to guess: style, quality and price. But if you’ve landed on this green blog, you must be looking for sustainability too. So today we’ll share our…
Being a sustainable company may be trendy now, but how do you know if what you’re buying is truly sustainable?
Our company was founded with the mission to save the rainforest. If you don’t know, we are a wood furniture company that uses only sustainably harvested wood from here in the Northeast. It’s been 10 years and we still guarantee that. Now it seems big name brands to celebrities are getting in on the action. With so many products and brands now claiming sustainable practices and resources, it may be hard to tell if the products you’re using really are eco-friendly.
People often ask me why on earth we located our new sustainable furniture store in the middle of Vermont’s woodlands. The truth is that I don’t see Vermont Woods Studios as a furniture store. Yes we have IMHO a beautiful showcase of the best quality handmade furniture Vermont has to offer. But our business was built first and foremost, out of my passion for wildlife & forest conservation. I wanted to show people where their furniture comes from. And I wanted to appeal to them to buy furniture and flooring that come from forests that are re-planted and professionally managed for wildlife & sustainability.
We located Stonehurst in the foothills of the Green Mountain National Forest…
so customers could enjoy the 100 acre woodland we’re on and experience the beauty of the forest
so we could raise awareness about forest conservation and the fact that much of the wood furniture and flooring in America is made from imported rainforest timber that’s being mowed down at the mind-boggling rate of over 1 acre/second
so we could persuade people to buy American made furniture and flooring– a healthier, more sustainable choice for both people & planet
so we could inspire people to change the world
For the first 7 years our Vermont Woods Studios was an online furniture store. Our staff worked out of a spare bedroom in my house. When customers wanted to visit us we would invite them to Ken’s tiny workshop in the back of the house. But as business grew and more people wanted to visit, we figured maybe it was safe to set up shop in a more suitable location. From the very beginning we knew it had to be in the woods.
Ken and I founded Vermont Woods Studios fine furniture store almost nine years ago. As a woodworker, Ken’s interest was in earning a living by promoting the tradition of high quality Vermont made wood furniture. For me, the project was about forest conservation and my desire to help protect forest habitat and wildlife for future generations*. Over the years it’s been a challenge managing this yin-yang pair of objectives but I think we’ve been able to maintain a pretty good balance.
Stonehurst Opens Up New Opportunities for Forest Conservation
This year we have a chance to bring a whole new dimension to our forest conservation mission through our newly acquired property at Stonehurst. The farmhouse we purchased and renovated into a Vermont made furniture gallery sits on 100 wooded acres in the foothills of the Green Mountain National Forest. In the past our environmental mission was largely fulfilled by donating to like-minded non-profits**, but now we can also also partner with them by providing forest habitat for various conservation projects.
Below are a few conservation activities we’re supporting for 2014:
Woodlands for Wildlife – Vermont Coverts educates landowners in sound forest management practices and the principles of stewardship for the enhancement of wildlife. Ken and I are attending their 3-day seminar on forest and wildlife management this spring to learn how to improve wildlife habitat and provide better conditions for native deer, turkeys, moose, bear, birds, bob cats, chipmunks, squirrels and other species that may be living at Stonehurst.
MonarchWatch – When Kendall and Riley were in elementary school we used to capture monarch caterpillars, watch their metamorphosis and tag the butterflies before waving them off on their epic migration to Mexico every fall. But for the past several years I haven’t seen even a single monarch. So this year we’ll support Chip Taylor at MonarchWatch by planting butterfly gardens (including milkweed) and encouraging others to do the same.
Vermont Center for Eco Studies– VCE is a group of Vermont’s foremost conservation scientists who inspire citizen volunteers across Vermont and around the world. We’ve been supporting them for years and are excited about being able to use Stonehurst as a place to gather data for their many programs including:
Vernal pool mapping
VT reptile and amphibian atlas
VT breeding bird survey
Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center – BEEC’s annual Salamander Soiree is this Saturday April 5th from 6-8:30pm in Brattleboro at the River Garden on Main Street. We’ll be there to help recruit crossing guards for this year’s annual amphibian migration.
If you’re in our neighborhood and share similar interests, please stop by Stonehurst, give us a call or connect with us on Facebook. Let us know what you’re working on and how we can help. As the southern most corner of Vermont, Vernon can play a significant role in our state’s conservation efforts. Let’s make it happen!
* We are losing the worlds forests at a rate of > 1 acre/second. A major factor in deforestation is widespread illegal logging for timber that’s used to make cheap furniture sold by IKEA, Home Depot and other big-box stores. Our goal at Vermont Woods Studios is to help raise awareness about where your furniture comes from and persuade people to buy sustainable furniture made from legally harvested wood.
** The non-profits we’ve supported include the World Wildlife Fund WWF, The Nature Conservancy TNC, Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center BEEC, Vermont Center for Ecostudies VCE and others working to conserve forests and wildlife.