Unsustainability of Ikea


…the company boasts of illuminating its stores with low-wattage lightbulbs but positions outlets far from city centers, where taxes are low and commuting costs high—the average IKEA customer drives 50 miles round-trip. Cleverly, IKEA transfers transport and energy costs onto consumers, who are then handed the additional burden of assembling their purchases [source].

I’m a self-professed fan of Ikea but everything cited in this article is true. Consumers often fail to judge the true cost of their purchases; just because it is cheap doesn’t mean it costs less. Even to the consumer (assembling time is an opportunity cost).

7 thoughts on “Unsustainability of Ikea

  1. KC

    I used to be a big fan of Ikea, but the other point not quoted is that their model is dependent on the fact that the stuff is flimsy and made to be disposed of and replaced: stylish, yes, but built to last it is not. We bought a chest of drawers there 5 years ago and have spent most of that time struggling to keep it in working order. Yes, the wood came from certified responsibly managed forests… but there was environmental damage associated with the packaging, shipping, marketing, sale, and transport from the store (not to mention a fair amount of stress on a new marriage in the assembly of said chest of drawers)… and all of those things are incurred second (and third, etc.) time when we have to replace it after it has passed the point of no return (not to mention the frustration the repairs and failed repairs have caused the meantime).

    • I think we have the same chest of drawers that has barely survived a recent move. And ditto on the amount of stress on a new marriage due to assembly 🙂

  2. I’ve only been to two IKEAs, but one was about 2mi from my mom’s house, in a suburb of Pittsburgh, less than 10mi from downtown. The other is in College Park, MD. It’s less than 1mi from the nearest Washington, DC metro station (Greenbelt), and the bus stop right in front of the store . That bus goes to both University of Maryland/College Park and, if I recall correctly, Gallaudet University (if not on campus, quite close), so students at both schools have easy, public-transit commutes of fewer than 5mi. Of course, DC residents can take the metro to one of those schools and catch the bus as well.

    Just because some people *choose* to drive to IKEA instead of using public transit isn’t IKEA’s fault.

    You’re also forgetting the fact that IKEA roofs are entirely solar-panel covered and supply electricity to the surrounding areas.

  3. there is no attraction. assemble yourself pretty much connotes cheap quality. besides i have not been inclined to drive that far and fight the crowds and poor planned access. have mistakenly driven by and seen the mess. never been and do not plan to.

    and okay so you take public transportation to there. handling the big assemble yourself content boxes on a bus? it”s hard enough to get into the trunk of your car.

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