Helping the earth…one cup at a time

1 03 2010

I noticed a couple years ago that if you don’t have something to look at while waiting for a friend in Starbucks, you can always read your cup.

Photo by: Famine or Feast

It is always a thought provoking, interesting and down-right profound statement.  Anyway, I didn’t come to tell you the next time you pick up a cup ‘o joe to become the thinker.  I came on here to share a finding from the IKEA catalog and how they seemed to take a tip from Starbucks.  Now I know that the catalog has been around a long while (since July), but it sits on my shelf and I hardly ever reference it (since their website is so wonderful).   I was flipping through the back pondering kitchen cabinets and flipped one page too far–wham!  the NEVER ENDING job section.

IKEA is making a pact to take better care of the environment, the earth’s resources and each other.  They seem to know that while they understand that sometimes they are part of the problem (we all are) they need to work harder at becoming part of the solution.  So they started to examine and change somethings which added up to make some noticeable differences.  Thus, the job is started, but that is why it is called the NEVER ENDING job.  Here are a few “improvements” they have started implementing to be better examples for the rest of us:

#1: When designing IKEA packaging, pretty is not top priority.  They don’t design flatpacks to sell more but to save more. Flatpacks mean optimized loads and fewer transports, which reduces emissions. Their use of recyclable packaging requiring minimal raw material helps, too. Brown cardboard is one of their best friends – it saves costs and the environment.

#18: The cotton in DVALA bed linen, called “Better Cotton” is grown in a more sustainable way, using substantially less water, chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Not only that, the fabric is woven using 15% less cotton but still feels just as good as comparable bed linen.

#29: SUNNAN work lamps combines low energy LED technology with solar cell panels. Since there’s no need for electricity, you can use it anywhere indoors not depending on your sockets. Just charge the panel for 9-12 hours in the sun and get four hours of full lamplight. From summer 2009 onwards, UNICEF will receive one SUNNAN lamp for every SUNNAN sold in IKEA stores worldwide. This enables children in homes without electricity to read, write and draw even after dusk. The first donations go through UNICEF to Pakistan.

#42: Formaldehyde is a common chemical compound present in for example water, fruit and wood, but it can also be added through industrial processes. To avoid health problems, there are strict requirements of formaldehyde emissions from furniture. We want the formaldehyde emission levels in IKEA wood products to be equal to the levels of natural wood. So, first we cut formaldehyde-based lacquers (1993) from our products. Next, we removed formaldehyde from glue systems used to glue veneer surfaces on furniture. DAVE laptop table, for example, has a fibreboard top that has contributed to cutting formaldehyde emissions by nearly 40% in recent years. The levels are now significantly below EU requirements.

#44: At IKEA, they hate waste! This is why they take every opportunity to turn spill from production into raw material for other products. LUSY BLOM cushion is one good example. It is filled with leftovers from IKEA quilt production, so they can make sure the content is safe and healthy as well as making use of material that would otherwise be wasted.

If only more stores would pay attention we wouldn’t have nearly as much waste.  Check out the full list of what IKEA is doing to help save our environment here.

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