One little thing. With the immediate threat of Climate Change, what can a single action do to solve such a large problem? At IKEA, we are focusing on the power of small actions to make a big difference in society. As much as Climate Change has been caused by many isolated decisions, its solution lies in accumulation of millions of climate-positive actions Canadians can take every day.
For many Canadians, climate change is personal. We know that the daily actions we all make directly impact the planet. How we get around, the products we buy and even how and where we travel. And while many of us would like to do our part, it isn’t always easy, and we don’t always know where to start. IKEA surveyed Canadians on climate change and 90% of consumers said they are willing to change their behaviour to fight climate change. However, almost half said they were unsure of how they could be part of the solution. We need to inspire and enable Canadians and show that living more sustainably can be affordable, easy, and accessible.
Our Federal government has inherently understood that Canadians want to be empowered to make changes in their daily lives. We saw that with the introduction of an electric vehicle rebate in the 2019 Budget, as well as an Energy Savings Rebate Program a short time later. Both programs prompted immediate consumer action and behavior change. In fact, in the last federal election, all major parties had consumer-facing climate positive policies, including with the recent federal Liberal platform promising up to $40,000 in a no-interest loan for families making eco-upgrades to their homes.
At IKEA we have also seen first-hand the benefits of driving consumer change. Sustainability has long been part of our business model and brand DNA, however in the coming year, we will put sustainability in the core of our offer and accelerate efforts in Canada. As one of Canada’s largest home furnishing retailers we believe we have a responsibility to have a positive impact on people and the planet. This includes offering new ways for customers to acquire, care for, prolong the life of and pass on household products. More and more, customers are drawn to products that are better for the planet. Installing a water-saving faucet, choosing energy efficient LED lightbulbs, or saving food in resealable containers helps save the planet, but also helps Canadian households save money. Canadians have caught on to that, especially in tough economic times, wasting less in their homes also means wasting less money in their pockets. Having easily accessible and affordable sustainable consumer choices allows all of us to make better decisions and ultimately means we enjoy a better life at home.
Empowering Canadians to change daily habits can add up to big changes. When it comes to the recent Federal Government throne speech promise to “build back better”, the large-scale climate initiatives announced could be extended to build a consumer base that buys better. Canadians want to be directly part of the plan to address climate change. The government should act in its Fall Fiscal Update to implement programs like its promised no-interest loan for home eco-upgrades. In addition, there are further opportunities to make it easier for Canadians to shop more sustainably. Incentivizing climate-positive products and services can help move Canadians toward better shopping choices, including making the identification of these products more transparent. Allowing Canadians to live greener in an easier, more affordable way will have clear benefits for the planet, but also for economic growth and new job creation.
For Canadians, home means safety, security and living one’s best life. We all have a part to play in enabling more positive choices in our day-to-day lives for both our environment and the economy. The planet is our home, but also the home of future generations to come. Taking action that empowers Canadians to live more sustainably now will ensure that our grandchildren will inherit a planet they will be proud to call home.
Michael Ward is the CEO and Chief Sustainability Officer at IKEA Canada