Ikea, a double edged sword?
By Jeff Highbarger
Ikea has been on the forefront of creating a sustainable business internally. They have 300,000 solar panels and 14 wind farms installed by Ikea that produce more than 50% of the energy used in their buildings. By 2020, Ikea is forecasting that they will produce more renewable energy than they consume.
This all sounds great and they sound like the model example of how a company should be operating. But, a recent video I watched (posted below) claims that Ikea uses 1% of all of the world’s wood. That much usage of wood to produce a cheap product raises my spidey senses that Ikea is up to something and they might not be so appealing after all. I decided to do some research to see how close to the truth this is and I came across a book by Ellen Ruppel Shell called Cheap. She spent time at the Ikea Headquarters with the CEO Anders Dahlvi and talked with many representatives from Ikea and it turns out that Ikea is the third largest consumer of wood in the world, only Home Depot and Lowes consumes more wood. The head of their forestry department claims that Ikea doesn’t intentionally buy illegally harvested wood but in the same breath she admits that as the company grows and the demand for wood grows the regulations in place to monitor how the wood is being harvested gets overwhelmed and deprioritized.
kea strives itself on being able to offer affordable goods to as many people as possible but they still have a fundamental theme of growth and profit. They seem to be trying to do the right thing in some areas and fudge when they have to for the sake of profit. For example, in order for the consumer to afford the cheap table or chair, the workers in India, China and Russia are paid very little and work in some pretty harsh environments.
So even a company that prides itself on creating a sustainable company and practices and tries to enforce environmental standards still fall victim of “for profit” mentality. They like many companies still follow the bottom line and that’s creating more money through growth.
on a bonus side note if you think it’s a bonus, 47% of the 17 000 Ikea managers are women