By Morgan Cook (‘22)
Many of us are familiar with furniture retail company IKEA. Between its goods and its bountiful cafeteria, its reach across countries is expansive. However, what not many people are aware of is the company’s recent conservation efforts. In spite of being the world’s largest furniture retailer, IKEA has made plans to protect the environment in any way they can, including striving to be a carbon neutral business. In order to stay true to this goal, they have purchased 11,000 acres of Georgia forest. Without this move on the company’s part, the land would have been lost to development. By holding the acres back from other plans, the amount of potential carbon emittance has been greatly reduced.
The Ingka Group, an IKEA subsidiary, now owns this land (located in the Altamaha Basin) as well as around 616,000 other acres of forests in Europe and the United States. They manage the forests and limit nearly all use for the wood. The Ingka Group works in partnership with a non-profit organization called The Conservation Fund in order to prevent unnecessary development when it comes to forests in America. By legally preventing the forests from being split into smaller pieces of land, the land is less able to be developed. Not only is this work important to the forests themselves but also the species which inhabit the land. Gopher tortoises, for instance, are shielded from habitat destruction thanks to the Ingka Group’s efforts to protect indigenous land.
However, this is not the only step this giant furniture outlet has taken to achieve its carbon-neutral goal. Materials that emit less carbon are being used in products as well as the packaging of products. The company has also recently announced that it would be buying back IKEA furniture for resale from customers. Through these efforts, they are sending a message to other retailers and consumers alike: Making a change requires meaningful action that will help not only oneself, but improve the lives of others – including Mother Nature – for the better.