Asian ElephantsAsian elephants are in danger due to unsustainable logging of their forest home. Stay tuned to learn how we'll partner with Trunks and Leaves to plant trees and help restore their habitat. In the meantime, you can help save Asian elephants from extinction by avoiding forest products (like lumber, furniture, flooring, coffee, chocolate, nuts, paper, etc) that are harvested unsustainably.
Putting a Face on the Forest
We've been promoting forest conservation for almost 20 years but I feel like we haven't really moved the needle when it comes to helping people understand why that's so important. Perhaps it's hard for people to relate to trees or climate change. Do you think our conservation message would have a better chance if it focused on the faces of animals who need a healthy forest to survive? We're going to give it a try.
Our first forest conservation campaign began in 2015, focusing on restoration of the Mexican forests that are home to monarch butterflies. Through that project we've planted over 100,000 trees. Using our monarch program as a model, we now seek to help restore habitat for other endangered species of the forest. Asian elephants are the next species we're going to plant trees for and they will be followed by others. Stay tuned.
Conserving Their Homes Starts in Our Homes
In 2015 we started our partnership with Jose Luis Alvarez, founder of Forests for Monarchs FFM. We were already working to conserve monarch butterfly habitat here in Vermont. We knew that monarchs fly from Vermont to Mexico every Fall where they spend the winter in an ancient forest. That forest is rapidly shrinking due to illegal logging. We've been raising awareness about that and helping FFM plant thousands of trees to restore monarch habitat. At the same time, we're asking consumers to consider the environmental impact of their choices as they furnish their homes.
Much of the furniture sold in America today is made with lumber that's been illegally and/or unsustainably harvested, causing the destruction of forests and wildlife habitat. Elephants and monarchs are just two of thousands of species that are disappearing along with our planet's forests. Each of us can make a difference when we purchase responsibly produced items for our homes.
Forest Conservation is our Mission at VWSKen and I started Vermont Woods Studios back in 2005. For Ken, it was a way to promote and sell the beautiful, handcrafted furniture he and his fellow Vermont woodworkers were making. My purpose was to raise awareness about where your furniture comes from and persuade people to buy furniture that's made with sustainably harvested wood (because most of it isn't). I've written about it dozens of times on our blog:
- Why Buy Sustainable Furniture?
- Is Your Wood Furniture Brought to You by Organized Crime?
- Why a Furniture Store Cares About Trees & Monarchs
- 9 Species Going Extinct Due to Habitat Destruction & Deforestation
- Can a Small Business Make the World a Better Place?
- Climate Change & the Furniture Industry
Greenwashing is a Lucrative Industry
When we first started VWS we were big proponents of green-certified furniture. We maintained memberships with the major certification bodies. But we quickly realized that the global timber industry (being so large, loose and lucrative) had fallen under the control of organized crime. Counterfeiting of green certifications is rampant, as cited in this report: Environmental auditors approve green labels for products linked to deforestation and authoritarian regimes (under the umbrella of #DeforestationInc). Since we can't determine if "green-certified" imported wood is real or counterfeit, we decided to simply avoid using any wood that is imported from overseas. The wood in all of our furniture is sourced from well managed, North American forests. That is our best assurance of sustainability.