Ay Caramba, IKEA!

ikeaOh the misery of being morally responsible in a morally corrupt world.  When should a corporate entity be given a break on their sustainability policy and when should they be bypassed for the lesser of many evils?  I will be the first to admit that the waters are shark filled and the fields are filled with mines today when it comes to tracking original sources for refined and fabricated materials.  But some actions and policies by companies have to be held to account, right?

It has been known for years now that almost half of the timber coming from East Russia is harvested illegally and that much of what China is using in its growing factories comes fromclearcutEast Russia.  It is also widely known that much of the finished products that we buy here in the United States are fabricated in China.  Companies such as IKEA and Home Depot have even been visibly seen making efforts to discover and root out illegally and immorally harvested timber.  But at what point do we consumers call the bluff and say enough is too much?

Or can we not step back from the entrancing and affordable IKEA cabinets?  Over and over I read about LEED homes and “green construction” listing IKEA cabinets as one of the sustainable or green features.  Is this a green feature or a black eye?  I know, I know.  They’re so modern and classic at the same time.  They are so easy, convenient and affordable.  I can’t look away!  But really.  Should it be that hard for IKEA to figure out that if half of East Russia’s timber is illegal and that illegal timber is a majority of the timber being used in their Chinese supplier’s factories…  that they are decidedly being complicit in the illegal and immoral harvesting of timber?  No.  The companies that are financing it are fully aware (not stupid as we may hope).  They are simply banking on the near certainty that the consumer won’t care.

And alas, we don’t.  Price and chic style are more important than moral fortitude or flatulence as the case may be.  So what to do?  If I can’t buy and install the eye candy IKEA cabinets in my new tiny home or my “green modern get-away” what is there left for life?  Well some alternatives to ending it all include reclaimed or salvaged lumber, recycled lumber, reclaimed fiberboard or other waste products, and of course FSC (Forest Stewerdship Council) certified wood.

Of course these options are usually more expensive, and there in lies the dilemma.  Well, my humble answer is to use your local craigslist (here in SLC a local TV station has created the KSL listings witch are awesome) to find cabinets for sale by someone else in your area.  Buy the cabinets for rock bottom prices and then hire a handyman service to alter and instal the cabinets for your application.  If you are lucky there may be a cabinet maker near you that builds his/her product from salvaged urban wood, etc.  But as Kermit says, “It ain’t easy being green.”

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