Trying to live more sustainably can be overwhelming. Where do you start? How much does life need to change? A key part of the IKEA sustainability effort is to show that living more sustainably doesn’t have to be about making drastic changes. The idea is to show how simple changes at home, like using better food storage or switching to LED light bulbs, can have big benefits for both the environment and household budgets.
People care about sustainability but they also want it to be easy, affordable and attractive. By designing beautiful, low price products that make it easier to make a difference, living more sustainably at home can become a reality for millions of people.
Reducing energy, water and waste
To help people reduce their environmental impact at home, IKEA of Sweden AB develops products for three core areas: energy, waste and water. The biggest star in the fight for saving energy is LED. LED bulbs use up to 85% less energy than conventional bulbs and last up to 25,000 hours. When it comes to saving water, the IKEA range of kitchen and bathroom taps help reduce water consumption by up to 50%*.
Most of us want to recycle, but it doesn’t always happen. People want convenience, so by providing a wide range of recycling solutions, it is more likely that IKEA customers will sort that glass bottle instead of throwing it away.
Cutting down on food waste is one of the simplest ways to live more sustainably every day. On average EUR 500 worth of food is thrown away by each household every year. Switching to food containers, like the IKEA 365+ range, can help keep leftovers fresher longer, drastically cutting down on waste and saving money on food bills.
2014 – Putting health on the agenda
Whether it’s biking to work, or eating organic food, sustainability and health are interlinked. During 2014 ‘healthy living’ was added to ‘energy, waste and water’ as a fourth category under the ‘more sustainable life at home’ umbrella. Products like organic IKEA food items and urban gardening solutions are already in the range and more products that support healthy living are in the works. These include the test of the FOLKVÄNLIG electric bike (available in some markets), as well as growing products such as planting trays with built-in cultivation lamps and systems for growing your own food in windows.
Getting the message out
So how do we reach potential customers and inspire them to live more sustainably at home? In May 2014 the IKEA store communication package was updated so it’s easier than ever to learn more about products that can help. Practical tips and ideas are also integrated throughout the IKEA website and catalogue.
One of the most powerful ways to communicate a more sustainable life at home is through IKEA co-workers. This year IKEA stores in nine countries kicked off a co-worker engagement programme that will roll out to many IKEA countries in the next two years. Participating co-workers receive IKEA products that help them live more sustainably and are then asked to share the results with their colleagues. In the process, the co-workers develop knowledge they can pass on to IKEA store visitors. One co-worker who participated in the programme was Paul, from IKEA Gateshead, UK. As part of the programme Paul installed an energy efficient A++ SUPERBT fridge/freezer in his home, and swapped all his light bulbs for LEDARE LED. After using the fridge/freezer and food containers he said, “I saw my food wastage go down by approximately 50%.” He also saw a dramatic drop in his electricity bills, “At the end of April my (electricity) account was £35 in credit and this time last year it was £250 in debit.” And what did he learn from the experience? “How easy it is to make savings and how important it is to educate my children on being more sustainable.”
With more co-worker and visitor awareness, and with an expanded range to help support them, the goal is to make an even bigger difference in living more sustainably at home. “People wonder how much impact they can really make on their own,” says Pia Exerman, lead for ‘A more sustainable life at home’ at IKEA of Sweden AB. “We have a responsibility to help. The challenge for us – and the opportunity – is to show how small individual changes can add up to something much bigger when we do it together.”
 Based on UK and Netherlands data (WRAP/Zero Waste Europe)
*All IKEA taps use an aerator that reduces water flow by up to 50% (compared with the EU standard) while maintaining water pressure.