But furniture giant IKEA is trying to reverse that assumption. The Ingka Group, the franchise's largest owner, just bought 10,840 acres of forest in southeast Georgia, Reuters reported. The purchase comes with legally-binding commitments to restore native trees and protect habitat for a unique species of tortoise.
"The acquisition strengthens Ingka Group's commitment to responsible forest management, as conservation measures are fully included in the forest management plans," the group wrote in a Jan. 14 press release announcing the deal.
Ingka bought the land from the Conservation Fund. This is a group that works to preserve working forests that would otherwise be fragmented and sold off in parcels, Fast Company explained. The organization buys forest land and puts in place requirements that it be kept intact, that native species be restored and preserved and that the public have access to hike on the land. Then it resells the forests to owners who promise to abide by these requirements.
In the case of the Georgia forest, the press release explained, the Ingka Group has legally pledged to restore longleaf pine forest and protect habitat for the gopher tortoise, the only species of land tortoise native to the southeastern U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A partnership with IngkaGroup & @IKEA will complete our efforts to conserve & responsibly manage 10K+ acres of work… https://t.co/pQZfTwOSZv— The Conservation Fund (@The Conservation Fund)1610632420.0
"We are honored to work with Ingka Group and applaud its dedication to preserve and enhance forest quality in the U.S. and Europe," Conservation Fund President and CEO Larry Selzer said in the press release. "Well-managed forests provide essential benefits, including clean water and important wildlife habitat, as well as mitigating climate change."
The purchase of the Georgia forest is part of IKEA's wider goal to be climate positive by 2030, Fast Company explained. This means the company will draw down more carbon dioxide than it emits.
The Ingka Group also owns other forested land in the U.S. and Europe. With the Georgia forest, it now owns 136,000 acres in the U.S. and 613,000 acres total, according to the press release.
An Ingka spokesperson told Fast Company that "no significant amount" of its U.S. forest holdings go towards making IKEA furniture. The group works to ensure that tree growth in its forests exceeds harvesting every year.
"We are committed to managing our forests sustainably while at the same time meeting our business objectives. In all our properties, we pay special attention to ensuring environmental protection, so we are happy to see that our efforts in working with responsible forest management are being seen and trusted," Krister Mattsson, the managing director of Ingka Investments, said in the press release.
Also this month, IKEA announced that it had reached a goal of ensuring that 98 percent of its wood was either recycled or came from sources certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as being responsibly managed. The company launched a new Forest Positive Agenda for 2030 that includes commitments to making sure one-third of its wood is recycled and promote responsible forest management beyond its own supply chains.
By working together with our suppliers and partners, we reached our 2020 forestry goal – more than 98% of the wood… https://t.co/L9vKq9eWc8— IKEA (@IKEA)1611586711.0
"At IKEA, we want to make responsible forest management the norm, to stop deforestation, enhance biodiversity and support people who depend on forests for their livelihood," Inter IKEA Group CEO Jon Abrahamsson Ring said in the announcement. "Responsibly managed forests also play a vital role in climate change mitigation. By enforcing strict requirements, and partnering with different organisations across the world, we have contributed to moving the forestry sector forward. Still the pressure on the world's forests and the surrounding eco-systems is increasing. Now it is time to take an even more holistic approach to protect and support these important resources for generations to come."
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Swedish furniture giant IKEA announced a slew of commitments to encourage sustainable living, including a pledge to remove all single-use plastics from its product range globally and from its restaurants by 2020.
The plastics ban will apply to its 363 stores worldwide, owner Inter IKEA said Thursday.
IKEA joins a growing list of major retailers taking action against disposable items such as plastic drinking straws, cups and bags, which accumulate in the environment and leach into our oceans and harm marine life. Last month, the European Union announced plans to phase out single-use plastics in an effort to stop ocean pollution.
Among other measures announced today, IKEA plans to increase plant-based choices for its range of meals and snacks, including a veggie hot dog launching globally in August 2018; achieve zero emissions home deliveries by 2025; and to use only renewable and recycled materials in its products by 2030.
"Becoming truly circular means meeting people's changing lifestyles, prolonging the life of products and materials and using resources in a smarter way. To make this a reality, we will design all products from the very beginning to be repurposed, repaired, reused, resold and recycled," sustainability manager Lena Pripp-Kovac stated.
The company will also expand its offer of residential solar panels to 29 markets by 2025, and reduce the carbon footprint of every product by an average of 70 percent by 2030.
"Our ambition is to become people and planet positive by 2030 while growing the IKEA business," said Inter IKEA Group CEO Torbjörn Lööf in a statement. "Through our size and reach we have the opportunity to inspire and enable more than one billion people to live better lives, within the limits of the planet"
Although IKEA is best known for its ready-to-assemble furniture, the company has taken major steps to address its environmental footprint. It has already invested heavily in renewable energy, including wind farms and solar panels on its stores. In 2015, the company pledged $1.13 billion to address the effects of climate change in developing countries.
Greenpeace plastics campaigner Graham Forbes called IKEA's decision to remove single-use plastic products from its stores by 2020 "a great step in the right direction" and encourages other retailers and corporations to follow suit.
"A truckload of plastic enters our oceans every minute, and plastic pollution has been found in remote locations like the Antarctic, the Arctic, and even the deepest point of the ocean, the Mariana Trench," Forbes noted. "IKEA has taken an important first step toward delivering the sort of bold action required by reducing plastic pollution at the source, although it's important for the company to remove these single-use products and not simply substitute bioplastics or other environmentally harmful materials. The momentum is on our side, and the days of single-use plastics are numbered."
India Announces 'Game-Changing' Single-Use Plastics Ban https://t.co/Nto10hHnJn @5gyres @MarchForOcean @oceana… https://t.co/Q5LmUEkdBb— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1528288185.0
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Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
By Amanda Froelich
There's a lot to appreciate about the Swedish company IKEA. From its numerous projects which have helped raise awareness about the Syrian peoples' plight to its commitment to the environment by using mushroom-based packaging that decomposes within weeks, the furniture business is progressive, to say the least.
Now, IKEA has released open source plans for The Growroom, which is a large, multi-tiered spherical garden that was designed to sustainably grow enough food to feed a neighborhood. The plans were made free on Thursday with the hope that members of the public will invest their time and resources to create one in each neighborhood, if not in every person's backyard.
The tools required to create the spherical garden include plywood, rubber hammers, metal screws and diligence to follow the instructions comprised of 17 steps. The Huffington Post reports that The Growroom isn't shipped in a flat pack like most IKEA products. Instead, users are required to download the files needed to cut the plywood pieces to size and are encouraged to visit a local workshop where the wood can be professionally cut. The free instructions online walk the builder through the remaining steps.
According to a press release, there are already plans to build Growrooms in Taipei, Taiwan; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; San Francisco and Helsinki, Finland. You can add your city to the list by jumping on the opportunity and crafting a Growroom in your neighborhood.
The project is the brainchild of Space10, based in Denmark. The company wrote:
Local food represents a serious alternative to the global food model. It reduces food miles, our pressure on the environment and educates our children of where food actually comes from … The challenge is that traditional farming takes up a lot of space and space is a scarce resource in our urban environments.
The Growroom … is designed to support our everyday sense of well being in the cities by creating a small oasis or 'pause' architecture in our high paced societal scenery and enables people to connect with nature as we smell and taste the abundance of herbs and plants. The pavilion, built as a sphere, can stand freely in any context and points in a direction of expanding contemporary and shared architecture.
Here are images from the open source design:
Reposted with permission from our media associate True Activist.