So I really like shopping at IKEA
. If you visit my house that fact would be obvious since almost all my furniture, curtains, and decor come from IKEA. It's not that I just really love assembling my own furniture or furnishing an entire room for the cost of just one item anywhere else, it's the way the company respects its customers, its workers, and the environment.
I know that IKEA is a business and they do business very well. But while most businesses are cutting whatever corners they can to increase their profits, IKEA seems to go out of its way to provide amenities for its customers. Free childcare while you shop, nursing rooms, diaper dispensers in the bathrooms, bottle warmers, babyfood for sale, and free milk and cookies for kids in the afternoons (not to mention a fantastic cafeteria) - can you tell I'm a mom?. Sure they are all gimmicks, but it makes being there a pleasant experience.
But beyond that, IKEA has committed to being socially and environmentally responsible. As Emma and I ate lunch there today (she calls it the "meatball store"), I noticed that all of their trash cans (as opposed to recycle cans) were labeled "Landfill Waste." I like that. Where else will you be reminded of the end result of what you are throwing away? But they also are committed to creating furniture from sustainable sources and not using unfair labor practices. You can read their environmental reports on their websites. I'm sure that they aren't perfect, but its nice to see a company that cares about these things. A company that (as they put it) is committed to "low price but not at any price." They say -
For more than 60 years IKEA has been working on ways of creating low prices – purchasing as inexpensively as possible, building our own stores, flat-packing furniture for customers to put together themselves.
But our ambition doesn´t stop there. We also want the products we sell to be free from hazardous substances. And we don´t want the wood in bookcases, tables or other products in the store to come from areas where forests are being devastated.
All IKEA suppliers must follow certain fundamental rules. Working conditions must be acceptable, child labor is not tolerated and suppliers must adopt a responsible attitude to the environment.
I am the first to admit that their furniture isn't the nicest out there and easily shows wear and tear. It won't last generations to be passed down as heirloom furniture. I hear a lot about buying stuff that will last or getting good used stuff. I see the logic there, but comparatively the ethical choice isn't always so clear. So I buy cheap furniture at IKEA that was made in a socially and environmentally responsible way, but it won't last forever. I could have bought really expensive hardwood antique furniture that was made from US companies barging into countries like Haiti and clearcutting their hardwood forests. Haiti still hasn't recovered economically or environmentally from the US sanctioned rape of their land and resources. Give the bigger picture, which is the more ethical choice?
And so I shop at IKEA. I like supporting business practices I agree with. And where else can you get meatballs and gravalox for lunch?
Labels: Culture, Ethical Consumption, Social Justice