IKEA is a Swedish multinational conglomerate known for selling furniture, kitchen appliances, and home goods. It is the world’s largest furniture company in the world and is famous for it’s modern style furniture and simplistic, eco-friendly interior design. Their vision is “to create a better everyday life for the many people”. They also sell furniture at relatively low costs compared to most furniture competitors. Their goal is “to offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low, that as many people as possible will be able to afford them”. While the rug does not come in multiple pieces, IKEA commonly sells furniture deconstructed, which makes it easy for consumers to buy just individual pieces in the case an item breaks or needs replacing. This allows for less waste overall. Nonetheless, IKEA mass produces furniture focused on mass-consumption within their consumers, which brings up the questions of whether it is truly possible for a company like this to be sustainable. They are doing some great things environmentally, like creating the lofty goal of producing as much renewable energy as they use and finding ways to sustainably source, but their focus on sustainability and building a better planet raises alarm for potential green-washing. The rug appears to be a fairly sustainable product on its own, but the company of IKEA reduces its sustainability in my mind.
The rug is made out of wool and jute. Wool is a natural, renewable fiber source, making it one of the most sustainable sources of clothing. Wool is most known for its durability and soft feel. Jute fibre is durable, 100% bio-degradable and recyclable, and made with natural color variations. The jute plant absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen at a rate several times higher than trees and requires less land space and water compared to other crops. The jute color variations also make each rug distinct and unique.
The rug is handwoven by workers in India and Bangladesh before distribution and the wool yarn is woven into the natural jute rug with the purpose of adding color and personality. Unfortunately, no further information regarding how the rug is made is given on IKEA’s website.
Paulin Machado is the designer and the rug is handwoven “by skilled craftspeople with good working conditions and fair wages at organized weaving centers in India and Bangladesh”. About 95% of the world Jute, one of the main materials in the rug is grown in India and Bangladesh, which gives IKEA good reason to create the product there. However, the cheap price tag of only $39 for this handwoven rug makes me skeptical of the “fair wages” that IKEA promises.
In addition, the “IKEA Way’ lays out five codes of conduct within the company that was inspired off of international conventions and declarations such as the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the International Labour Organisation Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998). The conducts discuss working conditions, prevention of child labour, sustainable sourcing, etc. However, these conducts reach bare-minimum in my opinion and their attempt to “try” and reach these doesn’t have me convinced.