Green Ikea

Those who patronize Ikea, for the little cool-designed stuff, or a couple of potted cactus, or perhaps just to get a towel might be aware that they no longer provide plastic bags for free and people who needs them have to purchase them by picking them up at baskets near the checkout counters. The plastic bags can cost cost up to 10-cents and in general, people who don’t purchase much stuff should not be expected to buy them. Curious about the economics of being ‘Green’, when I dropped by at Ikea today for a couple of items, I hunt for ways to circumvent the problem (or at least identify loopholes).

A survey of their policy reveals that plastic bags are still handed out freely for takeaways at Ikea Restaurant (I personally would really think about complaining if they expect me to purchase my plastic bags for takeaways); so it’s only the main store that stops the giving of free plastic bags. After picking up stuff to buy, it dawned on me that Ikea has the ‘wrapping area’ where they provide large pieces of brown waxed paper for wrapping porcelain products or glassware. I decided to try making a paper bag out of those. With the help of the masking tape provided (for free as well), I made a decent, huge doggie bag for carrying the items I purchased. It was a funny experience. I was rather worried I may get scolded for it but it turned out to be alright. I saved a the Earth by reducing the use of plastics, and a couple of cents for the plastic bags I may need to buy, but I also killed a tiny fraction of a tree and spent a couple of ATP worth of energy to make the paper bag. I wonder if it was worth the while.

Economic Analysis in this case is pretty difficult and I always think that although Ikea makes a lot of sense in their advertising and promotion of their own policies, they often overlook counter arguments (or intentionally ignore them) and presents things in too rosy ways. Perhaps they should try a dose of cynicism sometimes.

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