How is Furniture Made in the USA Actually Sustainable?

How Overseas Furniture Production is Problematic

Fast Fashion Furniture

A lot of the wood furniture you see in stores today is manufactured overseas. Fast fashion furniture is designed to be made as cheap and quickly as possible by cutting corners in the production process. Often the wood is harvested illegally from one of the world's rapidly disappearing rainforests.

Not only is fast fashion furniture contributing to deforestation, but some brands are abandoning solid wood altogether. Brands like Ikea use particleboard and vinyl designed to look like wood in order to reduce overseas shipping costs. All of our furniture, except for our recycled plastic outdoor chairs, is made out of solid wood because of its long-lasting durability. Our furniture is meant to be enjoyed for a lifetime, not end up in a landfill like 80% of furniture.

Loss of Jobs

Over the last 40 years, furniture companies have relocated tens of thousands of jobs for highly skilled furniture makers overseas. Their goal was to increase their profit margins with low-cost labor. Not only are foreign workers being paid less, but their working conditions and health standards significantly vary by facility and country.
During the globalization process, many skilled workers and their families in North Carolina, Maine, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Vermont have suffered job losses. Their once vibrant communities turned into ghost towns once the backbone of their local economies disappeared.

Carbon Emissions and Pollution from Shipping

International shipping is a continuously growing industry because of the global economy. 90% of global trade is transported via sea and contributes to mass amounts of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and carbon dioxide pollution.

Unless you buy furniture from a craftsman in your same town, there are going to be carbon emissions from shipping. However, buying furniture 100% made in the US means that you never have to worry about overseas shipping emissions or pollution throughout the supply chain.

Why Locally-Made Furniture is Better for US Consumers

There’s no doubt that buying local is better for the environment, especially from US-based makers.

Growth of North American forests

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. Despite all the economic activity dependent on our forests, they’re still growing in size and density.

Transparent Supply Chain of Sustainably Harvested Wood

Sustainably harvested wood has been part of the US economy for decades, even centuries. As a furniture retailer, we source our furniture exclusively from Vermont furniture makers. We work closely with each of these partners to ensure our wood furniture comes from sustainable North American forests.
Overall, we estimate that more than 25% of the wood in our furniture is FSC certified or upcycled/reclaimed. Our craftsmen only use wood harvested from North American forests, which are well maintained and adhere to strict environmental public policies. Our transparent approach has earned us a Top Score Award from the Sustainable Furnishings Council and National Wildlife Federation on the Wood Furniture Scorecard.

Sustainable Furniture at Vermont Woods Studios

The benefits of buying American-made furniture go far beyond your own home and into the homes of American craftsmen. Your decision to buy our USA-made furniture means that local Vermont communities have sustainable economies and the tradition of high-quality American craftsmanship lives on.
At Vermont Woods Studios, our furniture really is 100% made in the USA. Almost all of it is made in Vermont, although we do have a few craftspeople in neighboring New England states.

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Alexandra Thompson

Alexandra Thompson is a Zero Waste & Recycling Expert and the Sustainability Programming Manager for Waste Free Earth. Waste Free Earth is on a mission to reinvent how society produces and consumes waste through education, engagement, and empowerment. They are changing the current business culture to one that prioritizes zero waste systems over single-use landfill items.

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    Years in Business

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    Trees Planted

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    Happy Customers