Every Day is Earth Day

This coming Wednesday communities and organizations across the state will celebrate Earth Day. They’ll gather and organize to raise awareness about environmental issues through work, music, food, and art. We’re lucky to live in Vermont, and to make furniture here. It’s a special place where technology blooms, culture abounds, and commerce is generally good. Yet, the prevailing attitude favors a modest footprint and  a healthy balance between rural life and strong local economies. Vermonters are committed to their land. They love it for its beauty, and for the opportunities it provides.

At the Guild, craft tradition meets Vermont values on many levels, making our furniture distinct even from other masters. This list is a hat tip in that direction: our TOP FIVE REASONS why every day (can be) Earth Day in a Vermont furniture shop.

Paul Donio's Shop, Hawk Ridge Furniture, in the Northeast Kingdom.

Vermont Furniture Is Small Business. When you commission a piece of furniture from one of us, you are in fact, shopping small; making a choice that promotes a vibrant local economy, creates and sustains local jobs, and supports small business owners. Small business owners have a stake in the health of their communities, and dollars spent locally can be powerful agents of change.

Vermont Furniture Is An Heirloom.  James Krenov captured this idea more eloquently than I ever could… “We go and search for something for our homes, find what we think we want. Pay a fair price for it, take it home. And then watch it become soiled and dingy, dry and scuffed, too soon overused. Maybe we pay the junk man to come and get it, or we take it to the scrap heap. Then we start all over again. Go to the stores, search, buy again.” How nonsensical this is, he continues. “… aesthetically or even economically. Over a period of ten years one person may buy, let us say, three or four coffee tables, each one probably costing more than the last. The person does not object to the cost, a market price on each table. He will buy, wear, and throw away, and then go and look for the next and the next.” At the Guild, we deliver a table (chair, bed, whatever) that’s handcrafted by an honest cabinetmaker, with sound design, construction and integrity of process. What we make, we guarantee for your lifetime, and for future generations.

Vermont Maple in the Summer Sun

Conscientious Process.  Within the Guild we have members who run solar-powered studios and shops. We have members who log and mill their own wood with horsepower; the living, breathing, four-legged kind. Much of our work is done by hand. When we can, we love to use eco-friendly waxes and oils that are solvent-free, some even locally made. Of course, every maker has a favorite, and certain types are better for certain jobs. But. if these are your criteria, ask away and feel empowered!

A sideboard in process at Richard Bissell Fine Furniture, Putney VT

Good Wood.  Did you know that state of Vermont is nearly 80% forested? Or that our four and a half million acres support more than fifty tree species and tens of thousands of higher plants, algae, fungi, lichens, invertebrates, and vertebrate animals. Private landowners are responsible for almost 80% of the forested land, and they act as custodians. Many of our members focus on sourcing responsibly and regionally harvested hardwoods and some track every board so they know where it comes from, and how the land is managed.

Jason Breen hauling Maple, Jason Breen Fine Furniture

Unspoiled. Generous. Vermont forests give back.

Craft Preservation. I guess this seems more a cultural argument than an environmental one, but at its most basic level we’re talking about a tradition of making and producing needed objects from materials that are available to us. We like to think that the values, principles and footprint of handmade culture promote symbiotic living; where the things we do and make are tied to natural rhythms, and an inherent respect for the landscape. Slow furniture, if you will.

Oak Writing Desk from Steve Robinson, Brattleboro VT

From Vermont, we wish you a Happy Spring and Kick Ass Earth Day Celebration! If you’re daydreaming of a new piece for your home, or a housewarming/wedding gift for friends or family, we encourage you to think of us. Choose furniture, if you can, that is all that we’ve described above, that brings a healthy, vibrant energy with it. Choose handmade at The Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers.

And special thanks to Richard Bissell Fine Furniture, David Hurwitz Originals and the Vermont Woodlands Association for contributing insight and perspective. The desk featured at closing is handcrafted by Steven Robinson, Robinson Woodworking.

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