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IKEA buys 11,000 acres of U.S. forest to keep it from being developed (goodnewsnetwork.org)
949 points by Beggers1960 78 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 603 comments



Somewhat related. IKEA is the largest owner of forests in Lithuania (around 33% of the total land area is forest):

https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1104260/ikea-the-bi...

At the time of this article (2019), they owned 66,000 acres of forest in the country.


This seems a little misleading. 66,000 acres would be 270 sq km, 33% of the country is 22,000 sq km so IKEA owns just over 1% of the forested land.

IKEA is the largest private forester but most of Lithuania's forests are owned by the state [0] and overseen by various state bodies, some of whom operate them as commercial concerns including, almost certainly, selling timber to IKEA.

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forests_in_Lithuania


I don't think he means IKEA owns 33% of the forest. 33% is the total percentage of forest and IKEA is the bigger single owner of forests. Two separate statements.


Sure. But it really means IKEA is the biggest single owner of forests, apart from the owner who owns 40 times as much as IKEA does.


Sure, but including state ownership skews the metrics. Is there any country where the government/state isn't the biggest owner of forests? Applying the same idea to the US puts the US government at the top with 31.1% of forests[1] even though 35.5% is collectively owned by families.

[1] https://www.nwtf.org/conservation/article/who-owns-forests-w...


I think it is Relevant precisely because skew the metrics When we talk about land-use.If it is left out people can make all kinds of misinformed Conclusions.


Who owns 40 times more?


The Lithuanian state.


But we're talking about private owners here. Also, there's no mention of how much the state owns or if the rest is owned by other private third parties.


For someone who does not know how much is an acre: 66k acres is ~27k hectares or 270sq.km.


> 66k acres is ~27k hectares

That's a strange way to put it.

More obviously, 1 acre ~= 0.4 hectares or ~4000 m²

Alternatively, 1 hectare ~= 2.5 acres


In some countries there is also the are unit of land, 10x10m. There are 100 of those in a hectare (hecto = 100).


TIL about are. I just thought hectare was 100x100.


Lithuania is about 16 million acres, so that would be about 0.4% which is a lot but doesn’t seem too far out of the ordinary.

There are 50,000 and 60,000 acre tracts owned by separate logging companies near me, and that’s a small part of one county in northern California.

Point being that 10,000 acres isn’t actually as much land as it sounds like, when it comes to forest land.


Damn, love these little/random facts about my mother country.


Well, if it helps, they're the biggest land (forest?) owner in Romania, too. They own something like 50 000 hectares. It's probably not 1/3rd of Romania, we're a bit bigger :-p


OP meant, that LTU has about 1/3rd of forests of it's land area. Ikea is the biggest owner of forests at 270sq.km. Whole LTU area is around ~65000sq.km., i.e. forests a bit more than 20000sq.km.


Yeah, I understood that. I was just saying that Ikea owns a lot of forests in Romania, too.


It's none of my business if Ikea wants to buy productive forest land and take it out of production.

However, I don't understand how it is any kind of signal of virtue.

Would it be virtuous to buy productive farm land and take it out of circulation?

How is forest land any different?

In a previous life, it would be broadly correct to say that I worked in the forest industry. My body still hurts when I think about it.

I worked for wood lot owners, felling trees, trimming off the branches, sectioning the logs, splitting the wood and then stacking it to be sold by the cord. These woodlots had been in operation for over 150 years. Same land, different trees. They still operate now.

I also worked as a tree planter, hired by small contractors working for 'big forest'. Us tree planters went in after the heavy equipment had ripped out the trees, tearing the land to shreds in the process. It felt like what ground would have been like after a B-52 strike, an eerie hell scape, but with an explosion of small plants and flowers with new access to the sun, deer and other wildlife roaming free, wondering at the strange human interloper. Sometimes wolves and bears, at which point it felt rather lonely, me with a Swiss Army knife (mostly for the fork) and my nearest crew mate being well outside shouting distance.

The churned up land we were planting had been pulp forest itself for over a hundred years. As I planted, others were taking soil and water samples. To the forest company, the forest was a long term asset and that it thrived was in their interest.

I didn't think about it much then, but others long dead had planted that ground before me. Those foot long trees I planted have long been harvested and new trees planted in their place.

Trees are like wheat, or corn, or quinoa. Except instead of being a once a year crop, trees are once every twenty five years or so.

Otherwise, what's the difference?


I think you're being disingenuous if you're saying you don't know the difference between an old growth forest and a 25 year old monoculture stand of trees which is due to be clear-cut and replanted.

Kind of irrelevant to the article which you're commenting on though because they're not buying productive forest land to take it out of production, they're buying productive forest land to continue managing and harvesting it, rather to keep it from being rezoned and developed.


The difference in this particular case is that Ikea is not taking productive forest land and taking it out of production. It is taking naturally forested land that is at risk of deforestation that would ostensibly then be used for a monoculture wood farming industry.

If this land was used for timber, it would reduce biodiversity in Georgia. That would unquestionably be a bad outcome for the environment. Deforestation and a reduction in biodiversity is a major problem the world faces, and it impacts much more than just the trees and plants - much of wildlife like animals, insects, and fish are losing their natural habitat and being driven extinct as a result of this practice.

You can hype up timber forestry tactics all you want, but what Ikea has done is a good thing for the world, no matter how disingenuous they might be due to their products consuming large amounts of timber for furniture.


I take the point. Removing land from the potential to be developed is different from removing land from production.

Not that anyone is saying this directly, but I disagree with the argument that good, productive land left fallow is better than good productive land that is producing.

My brother makes a living and feeds his family based on his wood lot. Traces of original settlers from nearly two hundred years ago are found throughout the forest. Which is to say, it is pretty obvious now that it was not suited for farming.

But as forest, it is wonderful. There are at least six species of viable commercial trees at scale. Maple, oak, cedar, black cherry, pine. Most original species, or those introduced by the original indigenous people or the first settlers. The crab apple trees pop up in strange places.

My brother has a government approved forestry management plan that takes from the forest each year far, far less than what the forest produces. The forest will remain diverse and support a family well, indefinitely.

The trees are coming out in a managed way that is creating trails, with clear evidence that wildlife is making good use of the trails. Across the forest, he has installed a wide assortment of habitat for species at risk, birds, bats and others, several of which had not been seen in the area for generations - and they are being used! Under the managed forest, wildlife is returning in which there is no evidence had been there for at least two generations. This wildlife is moving into the adjacent conservation authority land, not the other way around.

If this was not an owned and managed forest, this would be happening at a much slower rate.

If I had to compare that against a plan that left the land alone, I'd tilt my hand to the one that actually supported people, in harmony with nature.


That sounds pretty awesome, and kudos to your brother and his family for how they are managing the land. But, you must realize what you described is not representative of most commercial timberland. You can see the effects of timber operations via satellite imagery, even quite far zoomed out - see most of western Oregon, for example.


Do you have any more evidence of this? My own experience with East Texas timberland is more representative of the grandparent comment.


What's the overall effect of forests vs farm/crop land? Forests provide homes to lots of animals. Farms do not. Forests help recycle the air. Farms do not. I'm sure there's others, but you get the point. At least, I hope you can honestly see a difference between a forest and farm land and that this is just some sort of mental gymnastics excersising of your devil's advocate muscles.


Wait what? Farms don't recycle the air? Do crops operate without CO2 somehow?


At the same effect as a tree? I'm not a scientist, but I can't imagine an acre of crops having the same effect as an acre of trees. Also, crops are only around for however many months they take to produce their product, then they are harvested, and the ground is tilled under again leaving the land with scratched earth. Trees in a forest keep doing their thing year round.

I'm also ignoring any of the chemicals that farms use on the land, but it is something to also consider.


It's a rather poorly written, biased article, with a typo in the first sentence, but IKEA isn't taking the land/trees out of circulation. They're using the resources while also aligning this move with their other sustainability goals, including on the carbon side.


Not implying that this is corporate propaganda to cater to the US public, but something similar happened to my country where saving the planet is not on the agenda of its citizens since there are other problems that need to be solved first. [1]

"IKEA’s goal is to purchase wood which is 100 per cent FSC-certified from these countries. At the same time there are many indications that forests with high conservation values are being logged by FSC-certified companies. FSC-certification is far from a guarantee for socially- and environmentally friendly forestry and FSC has received serious criticism from many environmental organizations, both in Sweden and internationally. Several environmental organizations have left FSC in protest. " [2]

So practically, you have a situation where IKEA acts on some shady rules established by this FCS that are unreliable. Moreover, countries with corrupt officials will eventually end up in prison but too late, before the harm is done. Generally, if as a Romanian I go outside to protest against IKEA and corrupt politicians exploiting the Carpathians, I'm told that I don't respect private property and that IKEA acts according to the laws of that country (created by corrupt policians with shady lobbies), in the end IKEA becomes the victim.

[1] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ikea-buys-83000-acre-fore... [2] http://skyddaskogen.se/en/news/4852-ikea-s-forest-in-romania...


"countries with corrupt officials will eventually end up in prison"

Majority never will, see Navalni exposing theft after theft and ending up in jail himself.


That is indeed a very sad reality in this part of the world. Since the fight against corruption that started with Romania's integration into the EU, things are a little bit better. Politicans are now held accountable but too late. We are mostly reactive instead of preventive.


Scapegoats and targets of witch hunts notwithstanding, nobody goes to jail for doing what is the local norm.


I have a problem with IKEA. Aren't those peaces of furniture made of composite materials and those not so sturdy shelves a sustainability problem when compared to traditional furniture making which is mostly wood glue a protective coat which lasts for hundreds of years can be infinitely repaired in a workshop with some basic tools. And then it it all ends it can became firewood, which ikea furniture can't.

Shouldn't they start fixing the world there?


I would say most pieces of furniture sold these days are made of engineered wood [0], if that's what you mean by "composite materials". Aside from easier sourcing, I presume that a big driver of it's use is the fact that it is easier to shape and produce - no having to figure out how it will be assembled using the various sizes of timber available.

The actual solid-wood furniture I have seen is either quite expensive, or (somewhat ironically) unfinished.

All this being said, if you do have the money to spare, spending a bit on quality or better labor practices is good. For example, I bought my bed frame from a company in the UK[1], and was quite happy with the finished product (despite some unfortunate luck with a part of the frame, which I put down to the fact that I ordered during the holidays).

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engineered_wood [1] https://www.getlaidbeds.com/


> The actual solid-wood furniture I have seen is either quite expensive, or (somewhat ironically) unfinished.

It's also super heavy, which I personally hate. Annoying to move in, move out, move around.


I have inherited a piece of oak furniture and that was assembled at my grand-aunts flat in situ, with wood glue and moves as a single piece, doors, interior and all. It's about 2,50m wide and 2m high and feels like it weigh a ton. Takes three to four people to move. Every time I move, the folks come in, have a look at that beast and take a break. It's definitely more a piece for people that have settled in one place.


There are cheaper, lighter, and softer but less durable solid wood pieces made of pine and similar woods. They don't feel much heavier than the IKEA manufactured wood furniture I have but at least have a decently satisfying grain if that's what you're going for.


This is so true. I've inherited lots of stuff from grandparents that's amazingly high quality wood -- but it's so heavy I can't even get it into my apartment! My parents once spent a few thousand dollars to ship some furniture from Europe to the USA..


Ikea sells lots of stuff made out of softer solid woods that is probably lighter than the engineered material versions.


Hi. Co-Founder of Get Laid Beds here.

Happy to shed some further insight into the world of wood. You are indeed right about engineered wood being easy to shape & produce. The main driver really is all about cost. The reason IKEA's furniture is so cheap is down to how they've designed it which is also purely automated. Their design process will start with "how cheap can we possibly make this whilst having a structural integrity that will be accepted as satisfactory". Which essentially means, it won't last forever, but long enough for a few years. Which we all know and accept, myself included. You could say they are not environmentaly friendly in this regard, however, that's certainly not fair given their excellent sustainability efforts in other areas, such as aiming to be climate positive by 2030 and having a million solar panels on their store roofs.

"Engineered" wood is both high & low quality product, depending on the use. A glue-laminated beam can be as strong as steel in buildings. Composite cladding on facades of buildings can last for a centuries (tbc as we've not had time to see it degrade yet). But then there's the cheap end of laminated, fibre board, OSB, MDF cardboard filled, etc, which is mimicking wood but is far from it. A simple knock or exposure to moisture will ruin it's aesthetic and structure. There's many different uses for different situations.

So engineered wood can be both expensive and cheap depending on how it's made. It's often made from the recycling of wood or sawdust from other timber processing.

So then we have solid natural wood. There's a good reason it lasts for a long time and that's simply because tree's themselves have evolved to stand tall and strong. There's many types of softwoods and hardwoods which I won't go into. But the additional problem with producing at IKEA scale is not only is it more expensive, there is also the natural element of knots, splits, cupping, etc which deform the wood. We might lose 20% (waste factor) of the wood we buy (as we only make beds with 100% solid wood) because it's simply unusable. Even when the wood meets the structural criteria, it can also visually be very different between the same species because of whatever natural environmental influencers happened to that tree. So the whole process of using solid wood is much more challenging, expensive and time consuming to ensure the quality of the product is consistent. The "consistency" is also key for IKEA. However, the beauty and eco-benefits of natural wood are well worth, as well it lasting almost forever. So it's worth the investment for the long term.

Hope that helps. Jonny

(Thanks for your order btw)


I think making things in the way that minimises the impact at production time is the most important thing right now. Population growth is still a thing. Many people are buying furniture for the first time. If you start using hardwood for all furniture it could easily be devastating to the worlds forests.

> And then it it all ends it can became firewood, which ikea furniture can't.

Of course it can. You wouldn't burn it in a fireplace, but then fireplace is very inefficent way to burn things anyway. If you burn it in a trash burning facilities like they have in Sweden, you get the most energy out of it, you can heat local homes with waste heat in winter, and it creates less pollution (fire places are being banned in dense urban areas where I'm from). It's a fairly good solution for the seasonal energy demand in northern areas.

I personally think IKEAs approach is realistically the most sustainable, but they could improve it by improving the recycling/reuse of the wood fibers in their products.

I've used and refurbished old solid wood furniture myself. It's a luxury IMO. There's not that much of it to go around. It doesn't scale. It's not a solution to the worlds problem.

I also think the quality issues of IKEA furniture is exaggerated. I have a cheap TV table I bought as a student 15 years ago. It has been moved around several times. Seen a lot of abuse. I didn't really have a use for it in our new home so I've used it as a tool table while renovating. It still looks fine. A tiny bit bent, but still good. Can probably give it to another student to use.

If you want to say that buying long-lasting furniture is significantly better, I think you need to point to a study showing how many resources each approach uses, and the average life-span in the real-world. It's far from obvious that solid furniture is better.


There seems to be a misconception that Ikea is all cheap composite. It's really not true, they cover a wide range, and they have full-wood models for nearly all product categories

Obviously most people buy the cheap stuff, but that's the case of any low/medium end furniture chain really


Yes, indeed, Ikea furniture covers a wide range.

For example, my most recent purchase from Ikea was one year ago, when I bought a couple of tables made of steel, on which I keep some E-ATX computer cases.

Those steel tables look like they should last more than a human lifetime.


They have pieces that aren’t particle board. These pieces are the lowest quality pine they could find. It’s super soft so it’s very easy to put a dent in and it’s not particularly well protected either so you end up throwing it away after a while as well. Maybe not as soon as the particle board junk but not much later either.

Ikea used to be well made and decent quality 20 years ago. It all went downhill from there and now most of their furniture gets damaged by just looking at it.


It's literally glued together "scrap" wood - which can work fine - but it is also susceptible to "drying" damage - I have a Hermes shelf that is more like a U than a _ now.


> Aren't those peaces of furniture made of composite materials and those not so sturdy shelves.

I'd gladly invite to my study, which is decorated using IKEA Galant (office) furniture. Every item in the set is high density wood composite and tables are built upon steel structures. They would outlast my children easily if they're not abused on purpose.

Or my Kitchen, which is again built by IKEA with high density composite and its workmanship made a good carpenter jealous.

If you want top of the line items in a category, look for "Stockholm" series.


"If not abused on purpose" is the problem - things DO get abused and once engineered wood products start to degrade there's no stopping it.

And if water gets in and doesn't get removed immediately you're in for a world of excitement.

Given that kitchens are remodeled every 7-10 years "on average" paying for solid wood/plywood might not be worth it. But there's a reason commercial kitchens are stainless steel.


Galant is not "engineered" per se. It's so dense that you can drive screws to anywhere on it. It behaves like drywall.

> And if water gets in and doesn't get removed immediately you're in for a world of excitement.

On higher end IKEA furniture there's no hex structure inside. It's filled. Solid. There's no inside.

My kitchen is 8 years old and it has a solid wood counter. I re-oil it occasionally but, there's no degradation whatsoever. It's guaranteed for 25 years so, it's not something flimsy. Again panels and cabinets are not hollow. There's no inside of these cabinets.


The "inside" refers to the material between the veneer layers - as you find with particle board or MDF: https://gharpedia.com/blog/particle-board-vs-mdf/

It sounds like Galant may be MDF which is more durable but still experiences expansion when wet.

The countertop is solid wood to help prevent that type of damage - and as long as you maintain the plumbing it should last quite awhile.


Galant is much denser than MDF. It's like a monolithic slab. It's way smoother and has finer grain than standard MDF.

For the table tops, IKEA's Professional Office Buying Guide quotes:

"Tested for tough treatment: The BEKANT desk series have been tested according to the highest standards for professional office use (EN 527, ANSI/BIFMA X:5.5 for desks and EN14074, EN1730 and ANSI/BIFMA X:5.5 for conference tables) and meets our strict standards for quality and durability."

Galant's table tops are rebranded BEKANT recently, however it's the same stuff AFAIK.

The buying guide is here: https://cdn.ikea.com.tr/buying-guides/Professional_office_bg...


I have a Bekant desk and I quite like it. Doesn't feel cheap at all to me. I think I paid around $250 for it.


I have right in front of me a 20+-year-old Ivar shelving unit which is in its 4th (for some shelves maybe even 5th) location and second country. It still seems pretty stable, although the slides on the Ivar keyboard tray sticks before the tray is fully extended (not a problem, the exposed area gives full access to the keyboard).

Looking at the wood, I suspect it's spruce or pine, with visible joins in the shelving uprights, as well as in the shelves themselves.


I have lots of Ikea furniture, I also have some "real"

In terms of longevity, I don't see that much of a difference. They both require basic care and maintenance to keep in one piece.

People throw away furniture, regardless of who/how its made. Thats the issue we need to tackle.


A thing I've noticed is that even if built from real wood most chairs are NOT designed to hold the average American - who has grown in leaps and bounds since the 1800s - and once they start to loosen at the joints there's no real saving them.


Yeah, that cheap composite wood is use once and dump. It can’t even survive a move sometimes.

But is it a sustainability problem? No. In fact if I can recycle wood destined for the furnace into engineered wood, it’s better. If I can recycle engineered wood to become engineered wood again, it’s better.

The other benefit of real wood you mention (restoring and finish) happens less in the western world. Here they dump and move on. Sadly.


I've moved my Ikea bedframe at least 4 times now. Including once cross-country. Same with a desk and a couple of bookshelves. Seems to last long enough if you use it as intended.


My ikea side tables were £4 each (called Lack I think, about 5 and a half usa dollars), I could not afford anything more expensive at the time. If you can get me two side tables made from solid wood that last for hundreds of years for less than £10 then I would 100% choose those over the Lacks. In fact at the time, I'd have gone up to £20 or £25 if I knew they were that good quality.


Some of their stuff is indeed composite - cardboard honeycomb structure with thin veneer on top. Others are more sturdy. Pretty much everything they sell will have a low impact on the environment when they reach end of life though.

Anyway, stop buying their $5 tables and get something a bit more sturdy.


Why can't IKEA furniture be used as firewood?


Particleboard is held together with glue, and the paint and glues probably aren't the best thing to breathe when they burn.


How much would buying all the Brazilian rain forest cost the world, or even renting it from Brazil? We would need it to be slightly more than cattle farming to work... but I’d happily pay towards this.


Buying rain forest would mean nothing for illegal rare wood markets, or illegal gold mining, or illegal forest fires to stretch cattle grazing area.

Most people grossly underestimate how wild and pretty much lawless inland rain-forest regions are in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. There are small pockets of settlements everywhere but except for Manaus there is very sparse infrastructure, Police will take days to get somewhere by boat, Healthcare deep in the forest is pretty much a death sentence if you happen to need urgent critical care. You have people that have never been registered with social security, etc.

My point is that having a piece of paper saying that a specific rosewood tree belongs to IKEA or <NGO> would mean nothing, by the time you try to enforce this, the tree would have been fellen, cut, and shipped on a boat to the highest bidder.

If you want actual change in the region you need to develop the local economy with jobs that allow these people to be productive in a way that is somehow more profitable than the existing illegal activities. But the practicalities of this are much harder to implement then simply blank buying forest land.


> by the time you try to enforce this, the tree would have been fellen, cut, and shipped on a boat to the highest bidder.

That could be true, but only holds for one tree (or a small number of trees). The problem starts when people build a business around trees. By the time their businesses are fully operational you can enforce laws. And this makes it unattractive to even start in this line of business.


You have entire gold mining illegal operations with heavy machinery deep in the forest without any law enforcement to halt them. Murder of indigenous locals in clashes with illegal miners is also not uncommon. Similarly to coca farming in Colombia they simply relocate to another unknown location periodically.

Even assuming good faith from Brazilian law enforcement/military the remoteness and shear size of the rain forest makes it a huge challenge to enforce any rule of Law.


It seems there is some hope:

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/145988/tracking-ama...

> A (...) satellite-based system, DETER, went into operation in 2004 (...)

> “DETER completely changed the way rangers went about enforcement work,” said Rajão. Rather than doing random patrols and checking for permits, rangers would send squads of enforcement officers — with satellite images in hand — to investigate areas of recent, suspicious activity. That made it much easier to remove or apprehend equipment. The word spread among deforesters. The existence of DETER meant that environmental authorities would likely notice if large tracts of land were cleared, and fines and agents would follow soon enough.


You don’t necessarily need to enforcement at the whole region but at the perimeter where heavy machinery and cargo need to pass to reach customers. But since this comes with a big cost still UN should help out with enforcing such laws.


Pretty sure most would support repurposing Tomahawk missiles and MQ-9 Reapers for the protection of the Amazon.


I'm not sure that firing missiles into forests is the most intelligent use of resources...


Why not? You'd likely not need IraqWarII levels of commitment - just a few enthusiastically-delivered missives at 1100kph to get the message across. A few loitering drones and a few dozen more missiles might actually be a highly efficient use of resources. I'm not sure where 'intelligence' comes into play here, beyond condescension of an idea you evidently disagree with.


Apologies I didn't mean to be derogatory. I was just a little bit surprised at the bravado-military mentality that surfaced on a tech forum. To clarify, there are so many issues here I don't even know where to begin, just some quickies off the top of my head:

- the most obvious was mentioned already: forest fires, when missiles explode in a forest you are trying to protect, things tend to burn and fire tends to spread i.e. there might be little forest left to save after you're doing killing everyone who has bad intentions.

- where do you even set these up that they arrive on time to actually hit moving targets?

- how do you ensure you don't kill innocents?

- how do you even _find_ nefarious actors, when forest canopy makes it very hard to find anything, not to mention the Amazon forest is mind-numbingly huge.

- AFAIK the military generally has an inventory of weapons they have to keep stockpiled, so the tax-payer will pay for extremely expensive weapons to be used and built again (great if you want to support military-industrial complex).

As stated elsewhere, the issue is deeper and not addressable by blowing people up. The people doing this have nothing to lose because they have little or no opportunities for making money, so they take any job they can find. Do you believe we should just murder people who make questionable decisions based on their survival? You and I are sitting comfortably behind a computer having this discussion and I would venture that neither are us are qualified to talk about what it's like to be that close to starving.


It was mostly tongue in cheek but it would be interesting to see how the public reacts to such a declaration. If actually implemented I am fairly confident that countermeasures could be taken to avoid casualties and collateral damage, but historically those things get pretty slippery over time.


I suspect public reaction would depend on how media decides to spin it:

- poor starving people just trying to feed their families and in order to survive, will take any job and are being exploited to this end by <cartels/greedy corporations/etc>

or

- dirty scumbags killing innocent animals and cutting down swathes of protected forest just to make a quick buck

or any other narrative that sells clicks, not to say all media is corrupt/greedy, but it sure seems like most public reactions are based on media narratives.


Yeah, my apologies - I too was being slightly tongue in cheek.

That said, if you entirely removed morality from the equation, I suspect it would actually be an efficient use of resources, to 'surgically' target varying levels of unwanted enterprise to make a somewhat dissuasive point.


Well, causing a forest fire with a missile is one thing we should avoid.


Why then, just use kinetic/fragmentary projectiles - easy peasy!


You just time the operation to minimize risk of wildfires, which is already pretty low in a rainforest.

The only challenge I see is that the folks running the saws and the skidders aren't the ones profiting from the operation. So maybe you take some extra precautions to avoid killing the crew, but destroying the equipment seems like a perfectly acceptable use of resources.


> You just time the operation to minimize risk of wildfires, which is already pretty low in a rainforest.

You seem misguided, rainforest is not equivalent to high humidity or rain all year round, you absolutely have wildfires and it is not a 'pretty low' risk. [0]

Also most of these operations are lead by organized crime and explore poor people in their day-to-day operations. Killing desperate and poor people that work on these illegal operations seems like a very disproportionate colateral for anyone that cares about upholding rule of Law, or you know just general ethics.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_Amazon_rainforest_wildfir...


well, in first place Brazil (or Peru, Suriname, etc) should be wanting to sell or rent it. Which they aren't. Second, it won't help to buy or rent it if there is no control in the region. Third, Europe together with China are the biggest market of illegal wood. France has a high military presence on the French Guyana, and they could definitely pass intelligence to some navy to catch the boats leaving Brazil/Suriname towards Europe. So it's not matter of who owns it but if all nations actually want to fight the black market around illegal wood and biopiracy, which they clearly don't want.

References:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-biopiracy/brazil-t...

https://www.dw.com/en/wood-laundering-brings-illegal-amazon-...

http://www.globaltimber.org.uk/ChinaIllegalImpExp.htm


I remember when I served in the region, we did some exercises together with the 3rd regiment of the French Legion, and they had even a sea operation force that could definitely work on that if Macron could do more than Virtue Signaling on Twitter about this matter

Reference:

https://twitter.com/emmanuelmacron/status/116461700896252723...


Everyone has a price... it’d just be interesting to calculate the total cost of purchasing and enforcement. Probably into the tens of billions per year? More? Once there is a figure people might think it’s worth doing or not.


I read an article commenting on "microlending", which came to the conclusion that the concept doesn't really work. Your loan of $3.50 might really mean something to the peasant who receives it. But it means nothing to you, and so microloans end up with no one vetting the borrower for creditworthiness or hassling them to collect. This incentive mismatch ends up spoiling the project; there's no reason for someone not to take out a microloan, drink the money away, and default.

There's a similar problem with your idea. You could buy a stretch of land in Brazil and bask in the glow of taking it off the market. But the problem you perceive with overuse of the Brazilian rainforest wouldn't be solved; that land was mostly not on the market anyway. How would you stop farmers from encroaching on your land? A "No Trespassing" sign won't do the job.

Buying land to prevent development will work better in the US, mostly because there's no one in the US who lives off the land. You can't stop small farmers from moving on to your unsupervised land. But you can easily stop giant logging or mining companies from doing it.


I have about usd 100 rotating in different micro loans through https://www.kiva.org/ In 11 years only one loan has defaulted.


Over the last ~10 years, I've put around 800$ into Kiva. From that, 188 loans for a total value of 5000$ were made.

A bit more than 300$ went into Kiva donations (you can choose for every loan, to cover administrative costs). 20$ went to currency losses. 80$ went to default losses.

The default losses are 10% of what I put in, or 1.6% of the total amount lent. And I explicitly chose a few loans that were explicitly marked as high-default-risk, because of the social situation of the recipients or due to the political/economic situation in the region.

I cannot confirm that my money dried up in default losses. I still think it's quite a good model (but I haven't followed economic research about microloans in the last few years).

Edit: I grew up in the amazon region, parents worked in an NGO. Giving people gifts/donations is worthless to most, since something gifted feels like it has no value. If you build a water well for free, it will be broken in a few months to years. If you make the village pay a part of the costs on the other hand, and if they must help building it, they'll value it more and keep care of it. It's a cultural thing. I could imagine that loans work the same way: You don't get a donation, you'll get a loan that you have to work for. In that culture, it will be valued more. (Of course, that applies to the region I grew up in, I don't want to over-generalize.)


How many loans is that? I take it when one comes back you just make another loan?


Yes, I do the same, only on https://www.zidisha.org/

100 dollars have been used for 500+ loans, the last 8 years or so. While you can pick the recipients yourselves, I've opted for automatic re-lending on the platform.


But they weren't suggesting individual purchases. A very large group doing a very large purchase can buy cost-effective security.


> A very large group doing a very large purchase can buy cost-effective security.

That really depends on how much they want the security. People defend territory all the time. It's very, very expensive to do that -- have a look at some city walls -- but it's cost-effective because they are using the territory.

But no, no matter how large the group, they cannot buy cost-effective security for their giant stretch of wilderness if their plan for it is "don't use it" and there are other people who do have a use for it. Compare American government efforts to stop people from using land to grow marijuana. Is the problem that the American government just isn't big enough?


> Compare American government efforts to stop people from using land to grow marijuana. Is the problem that the American government just isn't big enough?

People are generally doing that in areas where people are allowed. Also the government has a stupendously large amount of land that it didn't pay for and a low budget for keeping anyone out.

It's different if this is land you're purchasing in the modern age. If you're buying a million acres for over a hundred million dollars, then that's about 150 miles of border to patrol. If you hire 150 people for that, at above-median wages, that's 3 million a year. Add some overhead, some expense for equipment and buildings, it's affordable enough compared to the purchase price. If that's too expensive then go up to 10 million acres, which triples the land area per mile of border. Or 100 million acres.


> If you're buying a million acres for over a hundred million dollars, then that's about 150 miles of border to patrol.

> If that's too expensive then go up to 10 million acres, which triples the land area per mile of border. Or 100 million acres.

I don't really follow. The use case is that you want to prevent small farmers from encroaching on the jungle. This will only ever happen at the border between where the small farmers end and the jungle begins. If you buy land behind the border, that's nothing but a waste of your money (until the border is so thoroughly dejungled that your old hinterlands is the new border).

In turn, this means that all of the land you're interested in is border. You can't rely on the fact that a circle has a high ratio of area to perimeter to claim cost-efficiency, because you're structurally constrained to owning maximally cost-inefficient strip shapes.


Doesn't that risk someone buying the land behind your strip and developing it?

But assuming your scenario is the right one:

Buying only the border land is a strict improvement in efficiency over my plan. Instead of paying X million for land and Y million for security to protect a huge swath of rainforest, you only have to pay X/50 for land and Y million for security. Who cares about what percent goes to what, you're saving tons of rainforest for even less money.

In the extreme you might realize you don't even need to buy any land, you're just paying for security to protect the rainforest. Instead of paying 100 billion to own and never visit, you pay 1 billion a year to protect land you don't own. Which... sounds fine to me!


If the area is large enough, they could actually make a literal border around it, and use change detection via satellites to notice potential settlements/activity on the inside.

You probably need a watch tower about every 1~2 km, or even less if you'd use a strip of minefield to protect against hordes.


You wouldn't just need to buy them, you'd also need to police and monitor them constantly, if you bought them from abroad without further intervention unscrupulous people would just move in and start working the land anyway, and if you can figure out how to police it better than they can you might just be better off developing that.


There have been/are efforts like this. I can't comment on successes/failures, but if you want to kick in... this one says $100 saves an acre: https://www.worldlandtrust.org/appeals/buy-an-acre/

Shop around, not all organisations are equal. Also, there is probably similar programs in your area. A lot of good, well established wetland repurchase & conservation efforts in the US.


You'd have to buy Brazil first though; the rainforest and its conservation is as much a political issue as it is a financial one.


Isn't it a bit unfair to impose that on Brazil? Europe doesn't have much wood anymore because they used so much of it from the Romans on. The US exported a lot of wood to Europe early in its history (still does). Should we tell Brazilians, "Sorry, that worked for us, but now that we're rich we care about the environment, so tough luck?"


The most cost effective way is probably dropping a few hundred million anti personnel mines in the forest. They're very cheap to produce, very expensive to remove, and reliably keep people out of the area.


There are also numerous indigenous human tribes and untold number of mammals which would likely set these off. And what if you ever want to use the area? We are still finding mines from WWII all over the world. If you absolutely have to take the macho-military-method, I'd personally recommend drones...


The whole point is making the area unusable without the option of changing your mind after the next elections.


This is a joke, right?


I'm half-serious. It wouldn't be the first minefield that acts as a nature reserve, e.g. https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-39821956 or https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/feb/06/living-i...


The world does not need more minefields. This idea is bad, and you should feel bad.


That's quite... clever. But what about the wildlife?


My uninformed guess is that while the wildlife would be impacted, it would still fare better than when humans intrude in their habitat.


Not disparaging IKEA at all--moves like this should be lauded--but this is a working forest, harvested for lumber. I can't speak to how sustainably it's harvested or anything, and while this is commendable, there is profit motive here, as IKEA is heavily dependent on wood for its products.

I think in general, supporting things like working forests from a government level (tax benefits) is probably something that isn't done enough, given forests are one of the best carbon sinks available to us.


It's a good point to raise, as a working forest is quite different to a protected forest. Where I live is surrounded by working forest and regularly a large swathe will be felled, having a big impact on wildlife and taking at least a couple of decades for that land to recover. That's good for carbon sequestration, which is what Ikea wants it for, but not so good for the forest residents.


the forest was bought by IKEA as part of a strategy to reduce more carbon than it creates through its value chain

They might want to write that into their books, but note that by buying an existing forest, no additional CO2 reduction is achieved on a global scale.


Well, if that move keeps it from being cut (as evidently was the case), I'd prefer this over the unhealthy new forests that are ecologically unsound but are purely for bookkeeping CO2.


Huh? That move is exactly pure bookkeeping CO2.


Unless they plan on cutting the forest down, replanting everything anew and BURYING the chopped wood, they are not really helping. CO2 already in trees doesn't quickly return to the atmosphere if wood is used for long lasting things. Now, IKEA is known to do the opposite...

I know it's counter-intuitive, but it's *almost* better for the environment to NOT recycle paper and bury it in landfills. We're essentially reversing the process of extracting oil.


Its yearly co2 consumption that they are responsible for sustaining. The plants are already consuming co2, this way that will continue to be the case.


Forests are not perpetual carbon sinks, as trees eventually die and then decompose, releasing their carbon back into the atmosphere.

At best, a young and growing forest can be a temporary carbon sink, until it reaches maturity (and steady state).

Alternatively, a forest might support continual carbon sinking if and only if the recently dead and/or mature trees were somehow harvested and treated/stored in such a way that their carbon would not decompose and re-enter the rest of the biosphere.


Is that accurate? I can't believe that decomposition releases _all_ of the carbon into the atmosphere. Certainly a good amount of it is sequestered into the ground (e.g. coal). Thus a standing forest is never completely carbon neutral.


You are a bit out of date on this, wood isn't really turning into coal anymore these days, since bacteria and fungi have developed the ability to decompose lignin 300Ma ago.

The only thing comparable these days is peat bogs that act as carbon sinks (because their plant matter does not decompose due to acidic and anaerobic environment).


Peat bogs are flammable and can often catch fire, which in turn releases CO2. On timescales that matter, they are but temporary measures.


How exactly would wood just turn into coal, once it dies and falls down? You need really high pressures to form coal, this just doesn't happen without the residual biomass getting burried in some massive geological event. Dead trees are eaten by mushrooms and insects, which all produce CO2.


Broadly speKing, it is - coal does not really form on the timelines relevant to human civilisation


Yes. We should build more using Wood and less using Concrete.


We could make oil or coal and put it under the ground.


The plants are not really consuming CO2 in a grown forest, or more accurately they are consuming and releasing CO2 at the same rate.

A growing forest does consume CO2 more than it releases, but it does not seem to be the case now


Your comment, and the sibling that made similar observations, are correct. But a regulatory system where people are taxed on the net carbon contribution of their holdings is likely to reward them for owning land that is occuppied by plants.


But the point still is that net carbon contribution of land occupied by plants is zero.


I think the point from Ikea’s perspective is that the regulatory regime may consider it to be net positive.


> but note that by buying an existing forest, no additional CO2 reduction is achieved on a global scale.

A forest that is left untouched acts as a CO2 sink by photosynthesis and "capturing" the CO2 as bio-mass.

A re-forestation of land previously used for agriculture acts as a bigger CO2 sink because the potential for biomass capture is greater there.


What's best is doing the oil extraction in opposite. Grow plants and capture CO2, bury them in a way that prevents decomposition (is that possible?).


Yes, you can turn it into charcoal and bury that. Just make sure it doesn't catch fire.


News reel:

- Big company/person X is does beneficial thing Y

HN:

- It's just a PR stunt!

- It's a ploy to leverage something else and make more profit!

- It's so tiny that it doesn't even make a difference! If they REALLY cared they'd do A, B, C...

- They're actually doing Y to accumulate Z for some nefarious purpose!

- I once did some interaction with X or their products and it went poorly!

- X has skeletons I, J, and K in their closet! Watch out!

- Man, what's with all the X haters on HN today?

- Hoo boy, here come the X fanboys!


I don't understand this critique. Corporate PR is largely propaganda. Our corporatist media isn't willing or able pursue actual journalism to find out the truth, so now we have lot's of people searching for answers on a forum that allows for free speech. If you don't like it, you should probably just stick to cable news.


I think you're largely correct, but sometimes corporations can end up doing the "right thing" in the pursuit of good press or to serve brand marketing. I would say that IKEA doing environmental conservation is a good thing in this case, despite the company's motives for doing so being transparently self-serving. To me IKEA's reason for doing this is less important than the positive impact it will have.


Yea I understand what you are saying. I think it's hard in our current environment to understand trade offs because there isn't a lot of truth or trust in journalism or corporate propaganda. It's impossible to make a value determination of this action because we don't have the truth.

I don't think people should just assume it's a positive impact without all of the facts. It could very well be a negative. You seem to be only focused on one dimension of this, forest conservation.


Meanwhile, in Romania, IKEA owned (through "Vastint") Băneasa Forest is being redeveloped into a 476k sqm (118 acres) residential area. My point here is, once they own the forest, they may choose to redevelop it any any time.


It makes me feel sad that this basic and cheap greenwashing gets more attention than anything environmentally critical.

Here's IKEA's original Press Release which has been worked into this "news" article. The original PR actually has much more clarity: https://www.ikea.com/us/en/this-is-ikea/newsroom/ingka-inves...

IKEA makes it clear that the forest was formerly owned by a conservation group and was seemingly not in danger of being developed, contrary to the headline here.


That's a pretty small forest by American standards but buying up forests or any kind of open land with the intent to spare them from being wrecked by another sprawling exurb is a great thing to do. Similar work has been done by various open space preservation funds and land trusts in California. As a climate strategy it's not really even about the forests, it's about the exurban Americans who are the greatest threat to the global climate.


This smells like some really bold and really ridiculous PR attempt.

"Ikea uses about one percent—yes, one percent—of the world's entire commercial wood supply. That amounts to about 17.8 million cubic yards of lumber last year. " [1]

I guess they need this PR purchase to appease some eko organization. And this is equally ridiculous.

Ikea is making furniture, something people really need. Why they have to explain themselves for doing something useful? What should they use to produce furniture? Would plastic be any better? Iron? Stone?

[1] https://inhabitat.com/one-percent-of-all-the-worlds-commerci...


It's because they're fighting the arguably true reality that the majority of their furniture is designed to be disposable, and consumers are generally fine with that. I'd like to be wrong, though until we require companies to be responsible for all costs associated with the full lifecycle of a product so externalized costs are incorporated, we're not going to develop the most sustainable practices.


I've been using a lot of IKEA furniture for many years, some new, some secondhand (sometimes I'm the third or fourth owner) and I must say they're quite durable unlike some of the new furniture I've bought over the year and had to throw away.


Almost everything I have in my house is Ikea, from the desk I'm typing this on (10 years old) and the cupboard next to it (12 years), to my 4 year old bed (had to buy a new bed frame when we moved in to this house because the divan couldn't fit up the stairs)

Aside from one wardrobe which I had to get rid of (it was 237cm -- too tall for this house, so I gave it to my parents), the only furniture I can think of that hasn't lasted is the stuff from places that wasn't Ikea.

I get the feeling that Americans don't rate Ikea as highly as Europeans for some reason, possibly because it's a foreign firm (thinking of popular american TV shows of the late 90s and early 00s showing people struggling with assembling flat pack furniture)

https://notesmatic.com/2016/12/challenge-of-culture-in-marke...

> When entering the US market, it faced a major challenge because the business model it had been using was not replicable in US. Soon IKEA realized that the local culture was a challenge and there was a definite need to adapt to it


Here in Europe it has a pretty bad name too. But I love it. Their furniture is very versatile, functional and easy.

Also, even though furniture snobs hate it, I love pointing out their KALLAX or BILLY units behind them in online meetings :D :D Then it's "oh yeah but this is my home office, it's not so important".

In my place literally all my furniture is from Ikea and I love it. I don't like spending much on it, and IMO the durability is really excellent. What really helps is that they sell cheap covers for my couches, so if I get bored of them or they get dirty I can just buy a new cover for 29 euros and it's like a brand new couch again!


furniture snobs are just a whole other level of snobbery. I once wandered into a designer furniture store and came out feeling like I had been programmed by a cult. Also felt poor after looking at the price tags. "that nightstand costs as much as a car? I'll take 3 !"


Asked around the office (mainly London based), 6 people like Ikea furniture, 1 person didn't.

All aggreed that the delivery service is rubbish.

Tiny sample


I was really happy with the delivery service here in Spain actually! They brought it all the way up to the apartment and they were quick and careful.

But yeah N=1 :)


The annoying thing about IKEA furniture, and that from competitors, is that all it takes is for a tiny piece of particle board to be damaged internally for the whole item to be useless.

Generally, while they are in one piece and not moved, they are fine. But trasnporting or disassembling this stuff is a risk. The tiny wooden pegs, plastic bits and agressive screws going straight into soft board can rip out chunks, snap off, etc. Good luck getting a replacement door, etc.


You can just go to any IKEA and buy a replacement part? Every single part they've ever sold is available at the replacement desk in their stores (at least here in Germany). Even individual screws, legs, etc. When I broke a door and one of the hinges of a kitchen cabinet, I just went to IKEA and bought a replacement door (of the exact same type) and replacement hinge) and replaced them.


Not available in the US. The only thing they will do is either sell you spare small parts or issue a refund.


I'm in the US. I have several times gone to an Ikea store with damaged parts and been able to obtain replacements, sometimes free of charge - including with one part of an entertainment center kit that got dropped on the front porch steps, breaking one panel clean in half and cracking another. They took it back, gave us another, and sent us on our way no questions asked.

I don't doubt you've had trouble, and I don't know what their website or otherwise remote customer service is like, but to say that the service is just not available at all in the US appears incorrect.


I find this odd, in Canada we can get all the replacement parts needed. Just may have to wait a bit but they have them.


You can also search for the serial number on eBay and typically find a compatible part.


In the UK you can get spare bits too.


> You can just go to any IKEA and buy a replacement part?

Assuming there is a store nearby and even that the company is still in business. It's vendor lock-in.

Meanwhile, my solid wood sideboard could be repaired by any competent cabinet maker, without needing specialist hinges or plastic brackets. Not that it is liable to fall apart as easily as particleboard & veneer.


Sorry, what?

IKEA can be repaired by any competent cabinet maker. IKEA doesn't use anything fancy and weird, all their stuff is standard or a slightly variation of standard and could easily be replaced by a standard one. In fact most of the IKEA stuff is so popular it has become standard.

IKEA sells both particleboard & veneer for their cheap/budget friendly stuff and hard pine/other wood for more expensive stuff.

You can't have cheap and solid wood, it's just too expensive.

Go down to the local wood shop and buy all the wood you need to make a sideboard and tell me how much it will cost. Certainly will be leagues higher then buying a particleboard & veneer version of the same thing.


> and hard pine/other wood for more expensive

Pine is a softwood.


What would prevent your competent cabinet maker from attaching a new hinge and door to an ikea product?


Goodness, I am a software developer, I don't have a woodworking shop but I'd be able to repair pretty much anything Ikea - epoxy, pva, some sawdust for filler (or woodfiller), buy particle boards with same/similar color melamine online.

Any novice woodworker/joiner should be able to fix IKEA w/o any parts from IKEA even.


Repairing a couch is not an option unless you're skilled in re-apolstering.


Well that goes for all couches, ikea or not, doesn't it? That wasn't the question here.


...but other couches are built to last, so repair is much less commonly needed.


How many years does it have to last, before it's "built to last?" I've seen lots of Ikea couches that have lasted a long time.


In broad strokes, Ikea furniture holds up well as long as the humidity and UV is low'ish. Don't leave it out in the open weather, let it get water-laden with humidity, or sit directly exposed to the sun anywhere, and the glues holding it together will generally last their lifecycle (about a decade or two), possibly longer if in an especially well-cared for environment.

With some practice, West System epoxy, filler and fiber glass can easily repair chips and chunks. It helps that I'm not fastidious about aesthetics, so lacking the laminate on top after a repair suits me. The little bits are more challenging to source if Ikea has stopped manufacturing or supplying them. I'm hoping 3D metrology and printing can help with that, so waste from people tossing out old furniture for want of a small part nearly goes away.

YMMV.


Ikea sells replacement parts online. Usually, all you need is their number code which you can find in the manual (or if your lost that in the pdf on their website).

I recently ordered a replacement door myself, just to make it look new again.


My understanding is that that is only the case for items which are bought as components. Items which are bought complete inside a single box have to be replaced as such. For example, the assembly guide for the classic Billy has no item numbers listed apart from connectors - https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/assembly_instructions/billy-bookc...

Coincidentally this appears to be changing as of yesterday - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-55796429


Calling everything a connector is a bit disingenuous. If you look at the PDF it has 8 part numbers listed, which is a number for all of the small parts. Also the doors, doorknobs, hinges etc are all available to order.

What's left are shelves and the two wooden sides of the bookcase itself. The shelves can be ordered: https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/billy-extra-shelf-white-1026529...

So I would rephrase your "no item numbers apart from connectors" to "everything can be replaced except for the two sides of the main body". And even those you can get by ordering a new cabinet without any doors or extras, since that's basically the sides + a number of shelfs.


You can buy extra shelves as a form of accessory to the main unit - it just so happens that these accessories are equivalent to the ones that come with it. Fair enough, but IKEA sells them to augment your purchase, not as spares.

This is clear because, as you say, you cannot buy the sides, or the unique bottom piece on its own. And the piece which is most likely to degrade is the one which has many connectors pushed into particle board potentially multiple times - the sides.

Maybe it was a poor example, but I think my point still stands. There are many other furniture products for which no spares are sold, or happen to be available to purchase for other reasons.


Why is throwing away the old one, and buying a new one seen as a solution? Like huh? We're talking about waste.


Besides the fact you can normally buy replacement from ikea (or ebay), most of the stuff is fixable via epoxy and wood sawdust(or even cardboard pieces as filler), wood filler accomplishes the task as well. Brass inserts (again epoxied) + machine bolts can fix up any holes/stripped wood screws. As a fast fix insert tooth picks in the hole along with PVA.

Of course in many cases is easier (faster/cheaper) to replace the entire 'thing', altogether.


But it's super easy to repair. Just glob some wood glue and it'll ooze deep into that particleboard. The edges of billy don't survive sliding, given, but some electrical tape for the finish and glue for the wood work well.

It's not like we buy them as show pieces.


>edges of billy don't survive sliding

ABS edging is cheap (like really cheap), can get a cutting tool for 10 euro, and glue the edge with double sided tape (or contact adhesive - more messy thought)


I bought almost all my IKEA furniture second-hand. Many of them were taken apart and re-built 3 or 4 times in the last 10 years. Most of them hold up really well.

I cannot confirm that IKEA furniture is not durable. It's mostly not hardwood, yes! Of course if you're not careful you can rip out a screw. But that screw or that board is usually easily replaced. And of course, IKEA also has cheaper and more expensive models, models that are not very robust, and models that are.


And not being hardwood is also good for the environment as hardwood takes much longer to regrow.


They have different quality levels in their products.

The IKEA kitchen island I have is made of solid wood and standard hardware. The top is butcherblock and can easily be resurfaced. This island will last many years.

The IKEA 'linmon' desk I have is laminated cardboard. The weight of my monitor causes the desk to bow. The surface has the durability of flat paint. My phone slipped out of my hand from 12 inches above the desk and put a 1/4 inch deep dent in it. I'm pretty sure if I squeezed it hard enough with my fingers, I could crush it.


Yeah I would argue with the disposability. I use it for many years. I have some Ikea stuff that's 40 years old. Granted, their current product line is not quite as durable but this is partially because they use less materials (hollow surfaces etc).


Yup, I had some second-hand (a desk, used for four eyars) and third-hand (an office chair, used for the last ~9 years) and yes it's pretty durable.

The chair show it's ages on the fake-leather upper side (where your back lays) but then again... It's been used at elast nine years (but maybe it's been ten or eleven).


The thing about IKEA's stuff is that you usually cannot disassemble and reassemble most of it back losslessly when, say, moving houses.

But then again, a lot of more expensive furniture doesn't fare any better.


Every single IKEA piece of furniture in my house (desks, tables, sofas, shelves...) is entirely "lossless assembly", although when moving I didn't have to put them apart down to individual parts because they're also designed for whole components to be (dis)assembled and reassembled quickly. I think I have like one piece of furniture that is not entirely lossless and that's the back panel on a closet that needs to be nailed (which provides diagonal constraint), which I've done three times over yet still has room for more.

Okay it's not grandma's stuff that's made of thick solid wood and lasts centuries, but it has really held up well to reasonable abuse.


Yep that's the BILLY that has the folding wood panel you have to nail down. The reason they fold it is to keep the package small. You can re-do it a couple of times if you put the holes in a different spot but it's not great. Especially the folding bit is just tape so it can tear easily.

It is exceptionally cheap though.


erhm... sorry... but IMHO nine years are "nothing". A good chair should last at least 50 years.


A good office chair should last 50 years? A dining room set, sure, but an office chair is closer to white collar work boots than traditional furniture.

A decade seems reasonable to be honest. In order to be comfortable and ergonomic for ~8 hrs a day the chair will inevitably have some soft components that wear out.


Um... yeah, I disagree. No cushioning is going to survive for 50 years, and something like an office chair should be rotated far sooner than that (or maintained with replacement cushioning/support) to keep the ergonomics intact. Especially for an office chair (assuming this is something like an 8-hr chair and not a short duration task chair).


Then be prepared to pay 10x the IKEA price.


Likewise I've had the opposite experience, and many variables to account for as to which is the norm; the type of furniture, the type of owner and environment it was used in and use profile, etc.


I think this is not as easy a calculus as one might imagine.

Heirloom furniture is in some ways less sustainable than Ikea products. I am not sure there would be enough sustainable hardwood in the world to meet demand at the scale of Ikea.

People have different furniture needs than they did decades ago, and in terms of weight, logistics, material use, Ikea are quite efficient.


The complication is EXACTLY why we need to be even more in panic and hair-on-fire about environmental issues. A colleague did some analyses for the life cycle emissions of refrigerants. The complexity in the process was absurd, and basically intractable without simplifications. How much indirect CO2 emissions are caused by an inefficient compressor? How much does it depend on how you generate electricity? Which country were the gaskets manufactured in? What was the process used to extract the rare earths? Everything depends on everything else and consequences are pretty unknown.


Indeed - which is the argument for point-of-extraction carbon pricing. Then you don't have to calculate anything, it gets sorted out along the supply chain by individual decisions as to whether the CO2 cost is worth it compared to the available alternatives at that step.


The problem there is that most ways to add carbon pricing are against the self interest of whomever enacts it. Point-of-extraction is especially bad because it places all of the initial burden on the few places that actually extract carbon, who are probably not going to like that idea.


On the other hand, those extractors are operating on licenses issued by governments. So in principle, one could add that do their license, and they would just have to deal with it. A challenge is that the market is global, while licenses are given out by nations. So requires alignment of many nations for it not to be a competitive burden on a few producers.


Taxes are already on the government level, I'm not sure what other hand you're referring to here. Who would a corporation even pay the money to if it isn't enacted by a government?


I guess it depends on the 'who' in those places.

It's not hard to imagine a government rather fancying getting a tax receipt from extraction companies, particularly if it is seen as green. Who would presumably lobby rather hard against it. This suggests the absence of pricing at source is to some extent a result of successful lobbying.


The problem is exports; the government is already making money on extraction companies selling their goods abroad. If they burden them with extra taxes, that'll get translated to the price other nations pay, which will reduce exports, and thus reduce government's profit. In a competitive exports market, a country with environmental taxes will lose to the one without.


Sorry, how does a government bring in tax revenue off of exports? Tarrifs are levied on imports rather than exports.

Sure they would make less money off corporation taxes with lower exports, but as those receipts are generally low anyway the tradeoff going to carbon tax would likely be favourable.


Not directly off exports, but doing any kind of operation in a country involves government getting a cut of the profits via corporate taxes, laborers' income taxes, etc. All of these get smaller if the corporation sells less.


Until every country in the world has agreed upon doing that you still need to estimate CO2 when exporting and importing things from and to the common-carbon-price zone.


Sounds exactly like the kind of problem market economies handles very well.

Main problem is figuring out how to incorporate emissions into price signals.


Pricing negative externialities is EXACTLY the kind of thing market economies are terrible at.


Which was kind of my point. How can we internalize the externalities?


> Sounds exactly like the kind of problem

It didn't really work out so far, otherwise we wouldn't be talking about an emergency.


Hence why the real solution has always been:

1. Electrify everything possible 2. Shift all electricity production to renewables, massively increase power output with nuclear nuclear nuclear. 3. Carbon capture.


Destroying old growth forests is still a bad idea even if you have enough energy to capture all the carbon.


Everytime I hear the word 'carbon capture' I just think of trees. This is literally what trees do, they capture carbon.


Yes, but to get a long term net effect we'd have to bury them about as deep as the fossils we are excavating. I dare claim that this won't happen (it would be far cheaper/more efficient to leave those fossils and synthesize something from those trees up here)

Sometimes I wonder, as a mind experiment, how close we could get to practical carbon burial with a process based on sinking polymer blocks in the ocean: the specifics of the polymer blocks wouldn't matter at all as long as the surface doesn't degrade into spreading microplastics and total density would be high enough to sink, and they could be shaped like standard containers for easy logistics. The result of the mind experiment is always the same, even that could not possibly compete with leaving fossils underground.


Fossil fuels are not the only thing we do that cannot be carbon neutral though, such as construction with cement.

Additionally, carbon capture does not necessarily mean we are burning "fossil" fuels. Carbon capture could be using the Sabatier process to create methane from the CO2 in the air, which you then use to power rocketships/jets/etc, which we are still not very close to electrifying.


We could turn the trees into furniture and surupticiously spread them out in buildings around the world. Hey wait a minute?


So the missing link would be a second page in the manual where the reverse path from furniture back to flatpack is described? A nightmarish challenge, definitely makes me the Ikea manual guy with the questionmark, ready to phone into the help line.


> to get a long term net effect we'd have to bury them about as deep as the fossils we are excavating.

Why? What is wrong with capturing carbon the way trees naturally do? (Honest question)


Trees are part of a closed cycle: eventually they burn or are decomposed biologically (fungi and animals). As far as I know, all the high quality fossil reservoirs we excavate have been accumulated in an exceptional era when the biological defense mechanisms of trees happened to have so much of an upper hand over all potential decompositors that their corpses basically stayed around forever. Imagine a C heap when for a while free() is a noop... (it has been fixed for quite a while now).

The closest thing we have today to those "eternal tree corpses" are peat bogs were decomposition is kind of broken even today (and guess who discovered that dried up peat can burn, even if it's a very dirty fire? Humans. We just love oxydating carbons).


I think they mean 'after the tree has been cut down or otherwise reached the end of its life'.


And then release a large majority of it when they die and are eaten by fungus and bacteria.

https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/recycling-dea...


Thus, growing a tree and burning the wood (or disposing of it) is 100% carbon neutral. What's the problem, then?


The problem is that it's useless for sequestering carbon that's already in air, that we sourced from deep underground.


Yes, the obvious step would be to stop burning fossil carbon, it seems like a much more pressing issue than sequestering the one that is already in the atmosphere.


By now we need to do both, there is already too much carbon in the atmosphere. If you look at the IPCC projections, 1.5°C is only achievable with carbon capture of some sorts [0] (if at all). Research and development for this has to be pushed yesterday.

Though word is in the air that the previous assessments might have been very optimistic.. although that will probably only be discussed in 2022 when the 6th assessment report is to be published. Which presses the issue only further.

[0] https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/02/SPM3...


People probably aren't going to be flying around in wood-powered passenger jets any time soon.


I mean sure, but a forest will still capture more carbon than a plain. And it provides many more advantages than just capturing carbon for the diversity of our ecosystem.


Ooh and stop mining Bitcoin


Actually, as part of "Electrify everything", it would probably be good to replace a significant chunk of the banking system with a cryptocurrency layer (maybe bitcoin, maybe not).

With green energy, digital gold is a lot more green than physical gold. Bitcoin is like electric cars – not super green right in this moment when the grid is still dirty, but all it takes to make it greener is to green up the grid.

Meanwhile the classical banking system: uses all forms of transport which green up slower (armored cars, planes, etc), requires crazy amounts of construction (I don't even want to guess how much cement has been used in the construction of physical banks all over the world), all those buildings use energy for AC/lighting/etc, require huge amounts of manpower to manage trust in the system (people definitely aren't green), and also need their own datacenters anyway. And I'm sure I'm forgetting some things, where as with BTC pretty much all consumption is baked into mining, which again just gets greener automatically as the grid gets greener. Nobody is running a Bitcoin mining operation off of diesel generators. If you did the math (impractical given the breadth of the existing banking system), I think you'd find Bitcoin is already far greener than the existing banking system, by a huge margin.

And cryptos like Ethereum have the potential to 10x/100x/1000x that with things like PoS vs. PoW as well as the fact that Ethereum smart contracts can not only replace banking but probably other industries as well, such as title companies and various other middlemen.


> And cryptos like Ethereum have the potential to 10x/100x/1000x that with things like PoS vs. PoW as well as the fact that Ethereum smart contracts can not only replace banking but probably other industries as well, such as title companies and various other middlemen.

It's been 13 years now and nobody's done it, because that's a terrible idea. The reason lawyers exist is that all contracts have ambiguity and require a human to review and consider. All contracts have circumstances that aren't captured. Just ask the DAO folks.

Middlemen exist for a reason. Efficiency, conflict and ambiguity resolution, and so on.

Blockchains are only useful for things that are entirely captured within the blockchain. As soon as you interface the blockchain with the outside world you have to trust something to enter and capture that data accurately - garbage in, garbage out. Once you're trusting someone, you don't need a blockchain, just fire up and RDS instance and save everyone the headache.


For starters, I think you're underestimating how much of what we do in the modern world is entirely digital and therefore can be entirely captured in a blockchain. There are decentralized trustless platforms running on Ethereum right now. You can transact currency on a plethora of decentralized exchanges, without all the layers that doing so with an exchange of USD -> RMB requires today. There are pilot programs built around blockchain that allow people to sell excess energy production (e.g. with home solar) back to other people on the "grid" in an entirely decentralized way.

And with tokens that are tied to real-life things, the benefit is that once you've used real-world trust systems (e.g. real-life contracts / lawyers / courts / etc) to tie something to the blockchain, you can (going forward) hand everything over to the trustless and secure system. i.e. You tie your property to the blockchain once, and from then on you don't need to involve all those inefficient systems, you just transact the tied token directly on the blockchain.

Just because it hasn't been done successfully yet doesn't mean it's not viable. How long did the internet exist before [thing that is taken for granted on the internet now] was successful?

Finally, Ethereum launched in 2015, not sure where you're getting 13 years from.


But how else will people make money than in a global, decentralized pyramid/MLM scheme?


s/make/lose/

But I see your point.

We should make a pyramid/MLM scheme where you're promised rewards for planting trees, segregating waste, cleaning up in any potential wildlife habitats, and reducing/reusing stuff in general.


> even more in panic and hair-on-fire about environmental issues

Panic is rarely useful. It might lead you to move at high and low velocity.


that should be: high speed and low velocity.


Great example. Reminds me of Milton Friedman's "Nobody knows how to make a pencil" essay.

A lot of human progress is result of human actions but not planning. Centralized planning around "climate change" would 100% be a recipe for disaster and a monumental failure about which future generations will write for 100s of years just the way we talk about slavery today.

Your use of carbon makes my existence on the planet a bit risky and hence you should pay me some compensation. But how much ? That is an impossible task for anyone and not just for the centralized government systems but even for highly efficient private players looking at very small problems. This is something that even outright climate change deniers like me admit.


It comes down to you do whatever bare minimum "we" determine is necessary to do your part in this struggle, or we'll eventually go to war to hold the line if your practices unsustainablility outweigh the cost of war; arguably in globalised society you can and should use economic levers first.


There's a world of difference between Ikea particleboard crap and heirloom furniture - you can make quite useful and durable furniture from pine board; Ikea actually does (though they could stand to spend some time on the design, the IVAR system is BY FAR the worst storage related problem I've ever dealt with; tossed that into the fire and got Uline wire shelves instead).

Moving the lifecycle of a piece of furniture from 3-5 years closer to 20 is highly worth it; even if I no longer need it I prefer to leave it on the curb for someone else than have to shove it into the trash can. And these metal shelves will last longer than I will - and can move to the garage if I no longer need them.


I like Ivar ...


The biggest problem is that furniture, instead of a class of objects with longevity and functionality has now become a fashion article, and IKEA is a large factor in that shift.


Not to beat the snowflake millenial drum too hard, but my parents moved from the house they've owned since they were younger than me. They have furniture like bookcases, beds, couches, tables, much of which they offered to me. But I live in a 2 bedroom apartment that is less than 1/3 of the size of their house, so it just doesn't fit. As an example, their dining room table is wider than my living room! I can't take any of that furniture from our family home into my current home whether I want to or not, and even as a dual income household, with one working in tech, we can't afford to buy a house that would fit even half of their furniture.


Yup, very important point that IKEA has aligned with modern day living constraints and arguably modern day fashion. This highlights the issue of the Landlord-Rental complex that needs to be countered too. All a "fun" experiment but we must get these systems in check - we could all live like Kings and Queens in a sustainable world if only for organization and rallying resources towards so - against the status quo and those currently incentivized against such a system.


I buy utility furniture at the thrift store. When I'm done with it, it goes back to the thrift store :-)


it goes back to the thrift store

Last time I moved I found that thrift stores are very picky about what furniture they accept.


If I get it from the thrift store, it surely meets their criteria for donations. I'm a bit picky on what I select, too. For example, no upholstered stuff, because of possible bedbugs.


Take care of your furniture or give it away to those in need?


give it away to those in need?

Tried that as well. They took a dining table with a few scratches in it, but no charity I talked to wanted bookshelves or TV stands/media benches.


From a different point of view, I would say that I don't see their furniture as "designed to be disposable", more that there is good marked for re-use through other people.

Spotted a few comments from people saying they have had second hand items (3rd, 4th etc) - and I think that in my head is where my version of "disposable" has come from.

When I no longer want an Ikea product because it doesn't fit, or no longer needed - I will sell it online, and get a new one - for me I have "disposed of it" but actually its been "recycled" to someone that really wants it.

Anecdotally - I have never thrown away any IKEA furniture due to old age or defects. It's always been passed on, or I have received a new one. - Admittedly this is just my POV, and I fully understand people have their own experiences - but I would like to think that in some small part, I am helping with that sustainable process.

IKEA in this case, I am glad that they are at least trying to do something (again not saying other companies don't but we are in a thread about IKEA's recent work!) - and I would like to think that to round of the ring of sustainability that it isn't just the companies that need to input, its the people that use it too.

Maybe I am being too idealistic, but I will do what I can in my small little bubble to be part of that sustainable process!

I realise I got this far and didn't think about the point I was trying to make! - But yeah, from my perspective I don't feel like IKEA design it to be disposable, but I am sure other people have other experiences too :)


When people say "designed to be disposable" they don't mean reuse is not possible - just not likely, because a thing wears out quickly, or is a hassle to give someone else. Former means there's not much of a second-hand market, the latter means that even giving away for free is too much work compared to just dumping it.

I'm very much surprised about the amount of comments here on HN (today and in many previous discussions) that claim to reuse IKEA furniture; it's completely contrary to my experience. My opinion of IKEA furniture is that it's single-assembly - trying to break it apart irreparably destroys it.

I conclude there must be either high variance in IKEA's production quality, or we're comparing apples to oranges. Maybe some IKEA products have more reassembly potential than others. Someone mentioned an office chair elsewhere in the thread - yeah, that obviously can last years and be moved, because it's made of metal and hard plastics. But most IKEA furniture I experienced is made of dried toilet paper glued with formaldehyde^W^W^W^W^W^Wmedium-density fibreboard and assembles destructively.


Not thought about the re-assembly side of things - most of the second hand items I have collected didn't need dismantling - they came as one unit. (At the cost of the annoyance of moving it as a single unit!)

I am sure there are different experiences out there, could also be the circle of friends that do a lot of IKEA "freecycling" meaning I do see a higher quantity of re-used items being moved about.

I know that depending on the type of item as well there is a build quality issue - like Kallax shelving, it is a little more sturdier than the slightly cheaper version, and given I started with Kallax, I have stuck with it - Same with the Billy book cases too!

Although, the Diam Cake you can get from IKEA... that 100% is not going to waste, and 100% no one is getting a "second hand" one from me... there will be none left ;)

But returning back! It could be Apples to Oranges, there are so many products, and in my experience I have seen people stick to the same grouping of products as well, which could see re-use more possible than say another grouping (for any number of reasons).

Who knows, tomorrow the shelf behind me might just fall apart and I will be back eating my own words :)


I've moved twice with all of my furniture and it's still going strong. The only thing that worries me for my next move would be the board on the back of my bookshelf, since it's only held in with very tiny nails.


If I understand which board you're talking about (a thin hardboard on the back), I'm usually not worried about that one - I have a stockpile of nails available, and I could probably reinforce it with something I have on hand if the edges degrade too much. My problems are usually that driving screws and other fasteners sometimes damages the material, making the connection single-use only. It's fixable to some extent with adhesives, but once you start pouring glue down the shafts, the whole thing becomes that much harder to disassemble in the future.


Some regions are more humid, and the same particleboard that lasts decades dry will break down quickly.


I see a lot of classic examples of survivorship bias in this thread.


Seasoned IKEA customer here. They have two types of products, one type is durable and the other is not and it's pretty easy to tell the difference from the price. Desks and bookcases are good examples of the former.


They also have disposable desks and bookcases.

Look for furniture that will withstand someone leaning or sitting on it. The cheap designs are held together with cam-lock nuts and bolts or screws, and it's inevitable that at some point someone will lean on the desk and pull the screws through the particle board.

Furniture that will last longer has multiple fixings to keep it square, or diagonal cross-pieces (or a flat sheet).

This is going to last much longer:

    ..._____________
    ..._______•__•_|   
       \\   |      |
        \\  |      |
         \\ |      |
          \\|      |
           \|      |
            |      |
Than this:

     ..._____________
     ..._________•__|   
             |      |
             |      |
             |      |
             |      |
             |      |
             |      |


I’ve been using my disposable desk for 10 years now, and my disposable shelves for even longer than that. Not sure I’ve ever thrown away IKEA furniture, though I have sold some and given other items away.


If you compare Ikea furniture to the comparable items you get from Target or Walmart, Ikea is hands down far better quality. Sure it might not last generations, but it is affordable and built from basically sawdust so I have to imagine their 1% usage comes from simply the scale of their production rather than inefficiency or anything like that.


Doesn't seem that bad to make forests, then cut them down, mix them together with stuff that makes them non-compostable and then just jamming it in the ground.

Some local pollution, but you ultimately are sequestering the carbon, so all is well.


A while ago I spent far too long trying to work out if carbon sequestration through wood (charcoal, in this case) was feasible.

The answer is, partly. We probably couldn't fix global warming, but we probably could negate a reasonable chunk of emissions.

https://concretecuts.xyz/articles/biochar/


In 3 millenias: « Woah! Free chopped wood for our furnaces, from just a dozen feet underground! » — Wait, exactly what we did.


Is there a silent /sarcasm tag at the end of this comment?


It doesn’t read as sarcasm to me. The bulk of the ideas seem “in the right direction”, just with a bunch of gaps and uncertainty. The gaps and uncertainty are where research and conversation live. I read the comment in that spirit.


It's carbon capture isn't it? Use fast growing wood, make furniture by gluing flakes together. If it gets tossed, it just sits underground.


Need to make sure it does not rot (releases methane), or get burned. And that the environmental cost of transportation does not outweigh the benefit. But otherwise it is a potential mechanism, I guess.


Assuming it does stay underground, instead of rotting away in a landfill. GGP said "non-compostable", but I presume they meant "not suitable for composting", and not "physically unable to decay".


My brilliant crackpot roommate told all of us that he's actually the one saving the planet when he prints a ton of paper and not recycle it, ten years back. We all looked at him weird but eventually I realized how right he was.


A lot of their furniture is made of materials like chipboard, which is made with waste byproducts and low quality leftovers.

This certainly can be more efficient and environment-friendly than using prime slow-growth oak (for example).


I wish this was extended to many other products. Automobiles for example, should incorporate the costs associated with poisoning our air (including EVs as rubber tyres shed microparticles).

A bottle of coke should incorporate the cost of fishing the plastic out of the ocean.


Tires and brakes are both emitters, admittedly with motor braking you probably emit less total brake dust in an EV in a comparatively heavy ICE car.

Also still included in an EV is the carbon cost of mining, refining and manufacturing:

- Metal parts

- Plastic parts

- Organic fabric parts (raising cattle, big cost. Pleather? Still costly, and now it's plastic too, can't win)

- Battery minerals and production

- Electronics manufacturing

- Glass manufacturing

I am still all for EVs mind you, hell yes. But they are a massively consumptive item.


Citation needed that wood based products are bad for the environment compared to say plastic. The alternative to IKEA crap is injection molded crap, so perhaps this is the better of the two evils.


Not to pile on to the anecdata here, but I've owned a lot of different Ikea furniture over the years, and in the words of (I think) Douglas Coupland it's "semi-disposable."

Much of it will last a lifetime as long as you never disassemble it or move it further than the next room. Some of it is more fragile than that. Very rarely something is more durable -- here's looking at you, Klippan!


> I'd like to be wrong, though until we require companies to be responsible for all costs associated with the full lifecycle of a product so externalized costs are incorporated, we're not going to develop the most sustainable practices.

Why only the companies should be responsible?

I would say it's fairer to share the "blame" with everyone else. The consumers, the government, the whole society.


The resale value of my Ikea stuff was quite high. This doesn’t support your argument, at least for my region and IKEA.


Idea has levels of quality. But some must view it all as disposable and low quality because how else could they justify spending 3x or more at other furniture stores. Most shop at Ikea for affordability, style options, and a good return guarantee.


One factor missing from conversation is timescale.


Disposable? I've never had to throw away any IKEA furniture. These things can easily last 15 years.


15 years? My table is 90. My grandparents bought it used when they first moved together after their wedding. Hardwood and a bit of care once in a while (2-3 years, waxing) goes a long way.


Survivorship bias.

Most furniture from 30+ years ago is broken. The older it gets, the more likely it is to have been broken. For your grandparents (and the folks they passed it on to), it means: You were able to have space for the table all the years, and didn't move into a place where it didn't fit. It means it didn't have accidents. Do you have chairs that came with it - or did they break too (very common)? If you do have the chairs, are they sturdy enough for a child to climb on and wiggle in? (many aren't).

It means they didn't have a fire or break the table when moving it (if they moved over the years).

It means they could wax it and so could everyone else. It means they could do repairs when needed. It means that it didn't rot despite waxing.

It means that you (and/or other family members) also had a space for it: If you bought an old piece used, it meant that there was an avenue to sell it.

And a bunch of things like that. 90 year old furniture isn't the norm, and can hardly be used to verify that older things are made better (and besides, they had some cheap stuff too).


My experience with Ikea furniture is that they last - even abusive children. It is not Ikea's fault furniture is thrown away really.

Danish Design type of furniture is what breaks if you are not careful. I.e. slick nice looking chairs and what not.


who are the next largest furniture manufacturers, and how does Ikea's durability/sustainability match up with them?

Ikea doesn't compete with hardwood furniture... They compete with Wayfair, target, and Walmart furniture. Ikea builds a significantly better product with the same materials IMO.


I guess the argument would go that we would be better off building small quantities of long-lasting re-usable furniture, rather than building and throwing away lots of new cheaper furniture

The low prices at Ikea and others definitely encourage over-consumption - buying a new table instead of restoring an old one for example

Personally I don't necessarily subscribe to this argument, I think that we can focus on bigger sources of pollution/waste than transporting flatpack lumber, but I can see the argument


> I guess the argument would go that we would be better off building small quantities of long-lasting re-usable furniture, rather than building and throwing away lots of new cheaper furniture

No way. Not as long as population growth is a thing. A lot of people shopping at IKEA are buying furniture for the first time. Imagine if we switched to all hardwood furniture. People would still need to buy as much furniture for the next 20-40 years or so at least, but now those furniture will have a huge environmental impact. Maybe you reduce the long-term impact, but probably not for 50 years at least.

Making things out of cheap and low-impact particle boards, cardboard cores, etc, is probably the most realistic way of reducing the environmental impact. It maximises the use of the wood, you can make it out of fast growing wood, and you minimise use of materials. If you reuse more of the wood fibers through recycling, it'd be even better.

I feel like this whole "we should use long-lasting re-usable furniture" thing is more about upper middle class people wanting to feel good about buying expensive furniture or spending the time to find and refurbish old furniture. There's nothing wrong with it, but it doesn't scale.


> Making things out of cheap and low-impact particle boards, cardboard cores, etc, is probably the most realistic way of reducing the environmental impact.

Not only that, it being made out of particleboard doesn't necessarily make it disposable. My parents have a set of Pax wardrobes that they've had for 20 years (give or take?), and they're perfectly functional, and with some small amount of TLC (a small tin of paint) could even be classed as pretty!


> People would still need to buy as much furniture for the next 20-40 years or so at least, but now those furniture will have a huge environmental impact.

I question that. Population growth is not that fast, and I can easily see how the amount of replaced furniture is bigger than the amount of furniture bought for the first time.


Buying new stuff in the west is now cheaper than repairing old items - this is a combination of outsourcing production, loosing skills, and deliberate efforts by compabies like Apple and Sonor to make their equipment unrepairable.

https://youtu.be/Npd_xDuNi9k


Also cost of human labour vs automation.

Manufacturing is done by machines but maintenance and repair are generally carried out by humans.

Agree that hostile design or just lack of attention are also huge issues.


And the fact that the environmental impact isn't factored into the cost


Is it “cheaper” environmentally?


Possibly.

If you want to fix furniture, you need space and tools, so you need bigger houses (or the ability to move the furniture to a community spot) and tools. Tools will generally be made of metal, and needs factories to make these tools. Some of the parts are available freely: I'm guessing not all are.

Manufacturing will need to be different as well if your pieces aren't designed to be repaired in such a way: Who knows if this would be more environmentally friendly.

Not to mention that it is a skill, so a repair might not even repair it but break it further - but now we've made the tools and things on top of the furniture (that didn't even use up scraps of wood, but caused them).


What 'Tools' are needed to repair a chair or a wardrobe? A screwdriver, a saw, a drill?

They last decades, and can be used to repair tens of thousands of items.

To suggest that their environmental impact is higher than that of equivalent favtory equipment needed to produce furniture is delusional.


The issue isn't so much that ONE drill or saw is so much more - though, there are specialized tools for furniture that I do not have, but I also don't have a drill. The issue is that isn't just me needing these things if you want furniture repaired. If you want folks to fix things at home, you need everyone to have access to them if not own them. Everyone needs space to work on things if needed. If it isn't at the house, you need transportation. You aren't even reducing the factory equipment on-hand because it still would need to be produced. Dining chairs, for example, tend to get abused just by use and break in ways that cannot be fixed (oops, leg broke in half and I can't make this without woodworking tools and lots of training).

You are simply reducing manufacturing of one type of furniture with another (that doesn't use the scraps in production) and very much increasing a lot of other manufacturing and increasing the space people need to have available to do these things.

Edit: I'll mention that many folks are simply going to buy the cheapest tools to fix stuff: A decent drill isn't cheap, but a cheap drill might get you by if you only use it lightly and occasionally. If people are using them more, I suspect more will be thrown away. At least the furniture is using some renewable products: Drills aren't made of wood and pressure and glues.


> To suggest that their environmental impact is higher than that of equivalent favtory equipment needed to produce furniture is delusional

Western society has become full of contradiction...

Consumerism is environmentalism,

War is peace

Freedom is slavery

Ignorance is strength


A friend of mine who moved across country a few times tells me it is cheaper to throw furniture away and rebuy it than ship it.

(Throwing it away also includes giving it to the thrift store.)


As someone who recently moved across the country, that's true with 90% of what I owned. $3000 to ship and I could replace damn near everything for less, with a few exceptions - clothing, electronics, artwork.


But he always buys new, rather than getting furniture from a thrift store?


> The low prices at Ikea and others definitely encourage over-consumption - buying a new table instead of restoring an old one for example

This is never going to fly with regular folks, though. We could probably reduce pollution a ton if people started patching their clothes, but that's never going to happen either.


I think new clothes just needs to be expensive enough that patching is worth it


Okay so on things we are gatekeeping from the poor we have moved on to...

checks notes

Clothes?


Buying two $100 tables vs one $200 table is not overconsumption. Both consume $200.


Do they use the same amount of wood though? There's more to "consumption" than money!


Wood is a renewable resource.

I don't see how using it is bad.


> Wood is a renewable resource.

By this logic, so is oil.

FWIW, hardwood takes DECADES to grow, and "softwood" is pretty much junk.


Wood is fine. Shipping it thousands of miles is not


Well, in terms of carbon in the atmosphere, making furniture from wood actually makes a lot of sense, assuming you use sustainable forestry (replant the same amount or more).

That carbon in your furniture isn't going into the air anytime soon, hopefully never.


I run some numbers in the past and I think that going all-in to wood houses and stuff really makes lots of sense. It's not a solution to all CO2 problems, but having lots of wood in the forests AND lots of wood in people houses allows to keep a sizeable chunk of carbon from atmosphere.

It's a shame that wood is not as popular nowadays.

Of course people should regrow two trees for every one cut.


Wood rots in landfills. You have to char it to stop that.


Googling studies indicates that the vast vast majority of carbon (97%) does not get released but simply stays in landfills.


> Ikea is making furniture, something people really need.

The problem is that, like with clothes, people THINK they need more and newer things all the time because Marketing tells them that they do.

I read somewhere (can't find the link right now) that shit tons of clothes and other items are not laying around in warehouses not being sold (due to lockdown) and I don't see people walking around naked in the streets.

So, before buying something, ask yourself: 1) Do I really need it? 2) Can I buy it used?


Well the thing with furniture is that it fills up your place quickly. As apartments get smaller (most countries are in a housing crisis) that pretty much stops people buying furniture they don't need.

I only ever buy furniture because I really have a need for it. Not because I think it's cool or anything.


That's great, but I assure you, a lot of people just throw out old furniture and buy new ones just because they feel like their old furniture is out of style.


Downsizing creates a market opening for cabinets, shelves, organizers and other things that let you utilize vertical space more efficiently.


>The problem is that, like with clothes, people THINK they need more and newer things all the time because Marketing tells them that they do.

This is a problem with capitalism, not IKEA or clothing.


Maybe, but companies do have choices and don't need to blindly maximize profit.


Yes they do, the system will punish them if they do otherwise:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/american-airlines-stock-si...

>American Airlines has tried to make amends, by announcing a significant pay raise for flight attendants and pilots , to take base pay rates to industry highs, years ahead of when union contracts would become amenable.

>The stock AAL, +6.63% tumbled as much as 8.6% in intraday trade, before paring some losses, even though the airline reported first-quarter earnings that beat expectations, while revenue rose in line with forecasts.

>“We are troubled by [American’s] wealth transfer of nearly $1 billion to its labor groups,” Baker wrote in a note to clients.


>Ikea is making furniture, something people really need.

Exactly, IKEA *processes* one percent of commercial wood supply to build furniture for people. People who want furniture from IKEA use one percent of commercial wood supply. People want furniture made out of wood.

Same logic applies to oil companies who extract oil and WE use it to drive cars, take buses, use plastics, build roads etc.


Isn’t it a sad world we live in when our gut feeling always is that “this smells like a PR trick”. I’m not saying it isn’t, just that it’s sad that we have built a world where we don’t trust our companies motivations.


HN is particularly cynical though, the top post on nearly every article is negative.


17.8 million cubic yards is such a crazy unit of measure.

If we convert that into acres we get... c11k Acres.

So they have bought and protected roughly what they will use across the next year, effectively like an offset.


Only if they do that every year.


>"Ikea uses about one percent—yes, one percent—of the world's entire commercial wood supply. That amounts to about 17.8 million cubic yards of lumber last year.

Yeah, seems a little over the top to me too.

Ikea makes particle board furniture. Particle board is basically glue plus waste products from all the other things that use wood. You might as well complain that the dog food and fertilizer industries uses some % of the world's meat.


Well, just because they're producing something useful doesn't mean they can't give back at the same time! Small changes add up.


Exactly. I don't know if Ikea has an ethical way of producing its goods, anyhow if they do something useful, it doesn't hurt.

I won't say Ikea is a benefactor company because they preserved that land, but it certainly won't bother me!


There are some serious allegations that Ikea sources illegally harvested wood and convinces regulatora to look the other way

https://fsc-watch.com/2020/07/02/ikeas-ukrainian-illegal-tim...


He he: http://skyddaskogen.se/en/news/4852-ikea-s-forest-in-romania...

They've had these issues for at least 5 years, I remember reading about it back in 2015.


It does smell like a PR attempt. But if a PR attempt is what it takes do something better than what came before I don't mind.


Fun fact, wood is a renewable resource that sequesters carbon.


They’re also making more of it because it doesn’t last anywhere near as long as it used to. A chest of drawers made out of oak or good plywood (yes, plywood can be good) used to last a literal lifetime. It also costs a lot more.


I guess this has started, indeed. In Spain, one of the Twitter trending topics is a promoted Ikea hashtag loosely translated to "unknowingly being an activist"... so I'm assuming it refers to this movement


We'll see how that goes, but if they pursue some kind of vertical integration where they can make their own wood in a sustainable way... that'd be pretty sweet imho.

OTOH, it was recently announced that in order to promote sustainability, IKEA is going to sell spare parts too.

That's pretty good imho.

And keep in mind that we're talking about wood, something that's fairly recyclable, all things considered: imagine if apple started doing the same with iphone and macbook pro parts (that is selling spares directly to consumers)


I thought it might be a tax harvesting plan. Dunno. Last I looked into Ikea I thought their whole corporate structure was odd: the stores are part of a non-profit holding company that licenses the brand and furniture as art or something to that affect. Seems dodgy.


Of course, everybody is doing that.


IKEA uses wood? really? I thought they used shitty agglomerates and other mixes in their furniture, maybe all the wood is for something else?


They have some full wood products, some of their pricier desks, dining tables and kitchen countertops are full wood. Maybe all those thin wood covers on everything else add up, too.


Yup, many full wood items. One of their cheapest dressers is pure pine. The Poang is just laminated wood.


When I read it, I read it like "IKEA Buys 11,000 Acres of U.S. Forest to Keep It From Being Developed for now"


Not throwing furniture away every few years will seriously help solve the problem. Of course, that would mean fewer sales for companies like IKEA.


They already think the Western world has reached peak stuff:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jan/18/weve-hit-pe...


Of course they would say that.

And even if that were true, their prospective sales don't depend on the "Western" world only, not to say anything about the fact that equating "the Western world does not buy stuff anymore" with "the world doesn't buy stuff anymore" is peak orientalist (but this being standard corporate communication it does not surprise me).


> This smells like some really bold and really ridiculous PR attempt.

Of course it is, they just use illegal loggers in Romania to offset their actual need for the crappy disposable stuff they produce. They seem to get away with that no problem, despite EU restrictions on it.

I've never seen the appeal of IKEA when it came to furniture, the long lines at some of the bigger ones I've been to (for breakfast) are baffling and you'd think they were giving the stuff away given how long some people would wait to get in. It all looks and feels so cheap, it looks like what they use when staging a home for sale or what a cheap studio set looks like for a 1 shot scene in a movie.

IKEA had to settle so many wrongful infant deaths in the US, something that arguably could have been prevented by the parents, but it doesn't undo the fact that it comes down to a sub-standard QC/QA practices and literately no engineering in their design team. But, IKEA (now a Dutch company not Swedish despite its branding) is the China of furniture and focuses on that business model: cheap, disposable items that are profitable only at immense scale.

> Well, just because they're producing something useful doesn't mean they can't give back at the same time! Small changes add up.

Ha, useful... I'm guessing you've never lived near a University. the amount of IKEA crap that shows up in the dumpsters near off campus apartments at the end of the term is enough to make you forget about the word 'useful' when describing IKEA ever again. I've spent most of my time near Universities in the US, and its always the same crap littering the area after finals. The cheap plywood gets warped if it snows outside so most of its damaged beyond repair for even 2nd hand use. I wanted some night stands to use as in the garage for my tools once when I was in HS and was willing to do some repair work, but after dragging the thing a block it literately fell apart and the plywood had disintegrated and warped beyond use.


Because Ikea is the only affordable furniture chain that makes good looking furniture.

By that I mean that Ikea furniture doesn't chase current trends the way all the other big chains do (I'm in Austria). So buying furniture from Ikea means that you can use it for a long time without your home looking from a certain area.

Also, going to Ikea with kids is a great experience. It's almost like going to a theme park, and alternatively you can drop them off at the Småland.


Honestly the (nearly) unchanging availability is the main selling point - you can buy something today and buy something in a few years that will match (though what you bought today may have broken if you had to move).


I have had good experience moving ikea furniture, by disassembling and then re-assembling it.

Some of them, multiple times.


> without your home looking from a certain area.

Did you mean "era" given that you mentioned time? "Area" also sort of makes sense which is why I wanted to clarify.


IKEA is just as dutch as the Rolling Stones.


Well, it is Dutch. Just saying it isn't doesn't change anything. They're registered in the Netherlands and operate in accordance with Dutch laws.


It's a large group of companies, with various bits of that group registered in various countries and obviously operating (mainly) in accordance with local laws.

Basically "IKEA" as a total entity is split into two parts, one is the stores and things related to that like customer support and property management. That bit is ultimately owned by a Dutch holding company and then a Dutch foundation.

The other bit is "the concept", the design and production of the furniture, and the logistics. That is ultimately owned by Interogo Foundation registered in Liechtenstein.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:IKEA_ownership_chart

In practice it's all controlled by the Kamprad family, which currently live in England and Belgium according to wikipedia.

Reportedly the reason to have ownership in the Netherlands is to avoid taxes, which is a integral piece of the IKEA culture of cheapness.


You're missing my point. If we're "accusing" Ikea of being a Dutch company, it's because the laws of that country allow the creation of tax havens.

If the Netherlands would rewrite those laws, the Kamprads wouldn't be able to do what they're doing.


Yeah and so is Ferrari. Wouldn't call them a Dutch company.


Dutch. It's Swedish for common sense.


Somewhere a marketeer is laughing really, really loud.


Dutch. Romanian for tax haven and rich people dodging taxes.


> Ikea is making furniture, something people really need. Why they have to explain themselves for doing something useful? What should they use to produce furniture? Would plastic be any better? Iron? Stone?

Unfortunately we live in a world where virtue signaling is more important than actual virtues and winning arguments is more important than actual winning. Yes this is a PR thing and will help to create a positive public image that IKEA hopes will help them thwart the evil eyes of the rent seeking politicians.

Note: A tree is useful and carbon negative only if it is growing a tree in forest that has stopped growing is mostly useless for offsetting carbon, if anything we need a Logging 2.0 where we cut down a lot of trees and use them for long term purposes such as furniture, housing, infrastructure etc. and plant and grow new trees.

> Why they have to explain themselves for doing something useful?

They don't have to and neither does Amazon, Google, Exxon and thousand other companies have to explain anything to the public or govermint and yet you see so many attempts by government and activists to force them to explain.


There appears to be two camps of people in this debate. Those who expect corporations to behave according to the ethics and morals of society and those who believe corporations should attempt to extract as much profit as possible.

To those in the second camp I'd ask, why shouldn't society seek to place limits on corporate behaviour when it believes that behaviour is harmful to the long term goals of society? Why should the profit motive be put before social need?

Without social and governmental intervention we'd still have cigarette companies paying doctors to promote their products as safe and healthy. We'd still be experiencing crime waves brought on by leaded gasoline and fireproofing would still be made from asbestos. Should the government and activists have allowed these things to continue? If not, what differentiates them from expecting Ikea to responsibly manage it's consumption of lumber?


> _Note: A tree is useful and carbon negative only if it is growing a tree in forest that has stopped growing is mostly useless for offsetting carbon,_

Don't trees grow till they die?


I think the point is that after it dies frequently it will release all the stored carbon back into the atmosphere. In the case of turning the tree into furniture its really what happens at the end of the furniture's life. If it ends up buried in a landfill then the carbon is probably sequestered for a few hundred years, but if it ends up going through an incinerator for electricity/etc generation then its not actually offsetting long term.


> I think the point is that after it dies frequently it will release all the stored carbon back into the atmosphere

Only if it burns, dead tree are generally eaten away over decades by insects, fungus and birds.


Rotting, as its known, is just the tree being metabolized by other living organisms. That process is the same as burning except in that the energy is used by the organism. The net result being the carbon being turned into C02 same as burning.

AKA, whether you burn it, or leave it in the environment to rot/compost/etc the carbon eventually turns back into C02. In order for trees to be a carbon sink they have to be sequestered in an O2 free environment forever. AKA, they need to be feedstock for the oil the cockroaches are going to use to build their civilization in a 100M years.


The thing with IKEA is that most of their furniture looks good at first sight, but when it's been in your living room for a couple of years you tend to become very aware of the somewhat generic blandness of the design, the cheapness of the material and that micro-tuned "just good enough" build quality to the point that it begins to irk. You don't love a piece of IKEA and it is not something you're going to hand to your children when that time comes. I'm quite sure almost all IKEA furniture ends up in landfill within 30 years, so all pretense at durability seems misguided to me.

Also people say IKEA is cheap but IMO it's actually rather expensive for what you're getting. Walk into an auction room and see what you can get for that 200 euro.


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