Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ikea: Chopping Down Forests = Sustainability!

The Green Miles was recently in the market for a new desk and coffee table, so I went searching for sustainable options. I ended up going with Legare Furniture, which is Forest Stewardship Council-certified and uses what it calls eco-friendly finishes.

I haven't found any independent sources that verify Legare's eco-friendliness. But in my brief furniture search, it was rare to find a company that even bothered to claim sustainability.

And then there were claims of sustainability that were laughable. Check out Ikea's note in a coffee table's description:

Chop down an old-growth forest to make cheap furniture? No sweat, it'll grow back ... eventually. Let's just hope "eventually" comes before the planet gets too warm for them to grow back.

Ikea has made some progress on sustainability, reducing energy use, setting goals to make more of its products from recycled material & sustainably-managed forests, and eliminating plastic bags. But it has a long way to go -- just look at the National Wildlife Federation's 2009 Garden Furniture Scorecard (PDF). Ikea received a measly one star.

Could I have saved a few dollars by shopping at Ikea? Sure. But I'd much rather spend a bit more for products that reflect my lifestyle -- and I'm not talking about square chairs.

Smart shopper footnote: You can get Legare products much cheaper (and in many cases with free shipping) through Amazon.com, Walmart.com or KitchenSource.com than you can through the Legare site.

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