RISE to the Challenge: This Home Goods Powerhouse has Mastered Transparency

There’s a simple, universal, age-old adage that expresses such a massive truth, which is rarely disputed. Regardless of who they are or what they believe, I’d venture to say that most people agree about this one thing: moving sucks.

Moving is terrible. There are countless boxes. Everything is a mess. Nothing is where you think it is. Something inevitably gets lost. Things get broken. It takes forever. It disrupts your routine in such a massively annoying way. It takes forever to get unpacked and settled in your new home. It is a feat, an event, and a day (or week) killer. I just cannot be convinced that there is anyone who enjoys this process.

I certainly did not enjoy the experience this week, as I moved off of my college campus and into an apartment in the city. I did, however, relish the feeling of freedom and sudden control over my way of living. I have a washing machine, and a kitchen, and man, oh man, do I feel alive.

The problem with moving from a dorm room was that I owned no furniture. Cue a shopping opportunity. Yay!

Not.

If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll know that I’m already not the biggest fan of shopping. Add in the methodology of ethical shopping and it’s even more of a feat. THEN add in the pressure I was putting on myself to shop for furniture and home furnishings as ethically as possible. I began asking questions about whether fast fashion expanded beyond clothing and into things like décor and home goods. (I believe the answer is yes, but that’s a different topic for a different blog post.)

In order to keep myself from getting overwhelmed, I figured that I’d start with what I knew. Broke college student? Twenty-something in a starter house or apartment? IKEA, baby. (To be clear, I didn’t actually know anything about IKEA personally because I’d never shopped there before. I only knew what the media and my mother had told me. Two very similar stories, really.)

IKEA has a reputation for being young adult apartment furniture; it’s something of good-enough quality to get you through young adulthood to your later home-owning days, and it’s cheap enough that people don’t feel bad disposing of it when they’re done using it.  It’s inexpensive and requires assembly, and the store has been made infamous by social media for ruining relationships. (I won’t hold that against you, IKEA.)

However, they’re proving to be something other than a maker of seemingly disposable furniture. IKEA is one of my favorite brands at the moment, and not just because of the product (though I am a fan of the minimalistic aesthetic). As a matter of fact, my appreciation for the company truly has less to do with their product than their business model, ethical practices, substantial sustainability efforts, and the fact that it is one of the most transparent brands I’ve ever seen.

Many retailers tout their humanitarian beliefs but have no definitive evidence of such, if those outward dispositions come to fruition at all.  They claim to be proponents of ethical practices, environmentally safe production, fair wages and treatment of their employees, etc. or even advocates of social causes like education, but evidence of their “support” often ends there. And while I’m certainly not saying that mission statements and promises of moral standing and practice aren’t good signs, and movement in a positive direction, there has to be action taken to make meaning of their claims. Basically, if you’re gonna talk the talk, you’ve gotta walk the walk. And in the age of social media and the internet, you have to prove it.

Rather than this being perpetuation of the “pictures or it didn’t happen” mindset that’s so ubiquitous in our society, this “proof” is an act of transparency. Brands have to be transparent with their consumers (as well as their suppliers and manufacturers) about things like their business practices and their supply chain. Typically, if something is hidden there’s a reason for it; so theoretically, if a brand is truly ethical, there would be nothing to hide. Of course, things aren’t always this cut and dry, and just because information isn’t readily available to the public doesn’t always mean there’s foul play, but as a general mindset, it works well.  

What I love about IKEA’s transparency in particular is their sustainability report. It’s a brilliantly crafted 96-page document, yes NINETY SIX, describing every inch of IKEA’s business and its impact on the environment, ethics, spending, materials, sourcing, products, operations, supply chain, human rights, public policy and advocacy, sustainability governance and management, and every other detail you could possibly imagine. They go into their promises for their employees, an overview of how they conducted the report, massive amounts of research and prognoses of their sustainability goals, information about their IKEA Foundation, their contribution to their goals, and even the UN Global Compact Index.

So, essentially, they’ve answered every question you never had (and now never will) about the inner-workings and impact of the company, and scored a top spot in my heart for ethical businesses. Who knew that the champions of “young adult furniture” were also the champions of transparency and sustainability. You go, Sweden.

Now, clearly, not all businesses have the massive resources, capability, or even establishment to go into this much detail publicly. However, IKEA is forging a path for big businesses to have small business mindsets. Everyone is valued and accounted for, and every little bit matters.

Suffice to say I bought my furniture for my new apartment from IKEA (with vigor). It’s functional, aesthetically pleasing, and hot dang is it affordable. I also happen to be handy with a screwdriver, which helps. I intend to look into ethical home décor as an extension of the ethical fashion industry, which is exciting for me because that’s something I’ve always taken an interest in.

Maybe now that I have a real closet and a living space catered to an actual adult human being I’ll be able to more manageably maintain an ethical wardrobe, or at least one rid of excess items and clutter. (Let’s hope.)

Practice makes progress, they say.

Until next time, my fashionable friends.

Xoxo,

Abby 

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To learn more about transparency in your business contact RISE Creative

This article is in no way sponsored or affiliated with IKEA.