IKEA Lamp commercial shines bright
It was a quiet Sunday afternoon at home; I was flipping between channels dodging commercials as best as I could until I saw one commercial begin with an image of a desk lamp sitting in the rain destined for landfill. Why did this image catch my attention you ask? Because I’m weird, and I love anything to do with garbage.
I knew at this point the IKEA Lamp commercial would probably address the topic of reuse and extending the life-cycle of products to keep them out of landfills. But what I didn’t know was that it was going to strike a chord so deep, it would change the way I think about the future of how to approach sustainable consumption.
Have a look for yourself, courtesy of IKEA Canada:
What struck me the most about the IKEA Lamp commercial was the emotional connection built for the product. We’re shown the story of a lamp cast aside, unwanted, baking in the sun, and alone in the rain.
Just when we’ve lost all hope for the lamp and destruction is certain, it’s saved in the nick of time. Our protagonist gives it a new bulb, plugs it in, and new life is born for our lonely lamp.
As the story progresses, the way we see her care for the lamp over time really seals the deal for me. It’s there during tea parties with stuffed animals, reading books with mom, and falling asleep at night. She loves the lamp; and it shows.
Why does someone loving a lamp matter?
The simple truth is that this family extended the life of an item that someone else decided to cut short. The lamp didn’t end up in the landfill, they didn’t have to purchase a newly manufactured item, and they supported the daughter’s decision of not wanting the newest and trendiest item.
I’m not necessarily promoting scavenging here, but to me it speaks to a much larger issue that we face today. We’ve lost touch with almost everything that we own.
Today’s products are not built to be repaired or last a long time. Items – especially electronics – are made so cheap, and spare parts are sold at such a premium it doesn’t make financial sense to try. So many products fit this mold because trends are changing at such an incredible rate that consumers want what is new, rather than something that will last them a long time.
Fast fashion environmental impact
“Fast Fashion” is a great example of this transition. Stores which offer clothing at low prices, with styles changing on a monthly basis, sometimes even quicker. Why spend $150 on a pair of pants when you can get a new pair every six months for $40? Consumers have been conditioned to buy the latest trend as we search for always having the newest stuff.
These stores have catered to that desire by manufacturing and selling lower quality clothing designed to be worn only a handful of times. Doing so not only satisfies the need for ‘new’, but also gives the consumer a shorter timeline for when they need to buy next, and the cycle continues.
While some people may see having more options for consumers and regular advancements or changes in styles and technology as a positive, it comes at a cost (that isn't being considered).
In the time that we’ve replaced the two lamps we’ve had to dig up twice the amount of raw materials, drive twice the amount of trucks, use twice the amount of water and energy, and ultimately use twice the amount of landfill space. Not to mention taking the time to go to the store twice.
What do we do?
Much like the IKEA Lamp commercial, we need to fall in love with our stuff again. We need to spend more money on high quality, sustainable, locally made products that don’t exploit cheap global supply chains and manufacturing processes. We need to stop giving in to cheap trendy products that will fall apart next season and take care of the high-quality products we purchase. It may seem more expensive financially to do at first, but the damage these cheap products do to our environment aren't accounted for in their price.
Buy better, buy less.