Ikea Loaning Furniture Says A Lot About The Lack Of Permanence In Our Home Lives Today

12-month wardrobes to match those 12-month tenancies...


by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

Ikea has unveiled plans to loan furniture to customers for a set period of time in a new scheme aiming to reduce waste. The furniture giant is aiming to reduce its climate footprint by 15% after it was revealed that huge amounts of waste were being created from old furniture.

Leasing kitchens, living room furniture and pretty much everything you could need for those glorious 12-month tenancies so many of us are now subject to, the scheme means that you can return furniture and Ikea will then refurbish it to re-sell, ‘prolonging the lifecycle of the products’.

‘We will work together with partners so you can actually lease your furniture. When that leasing period is over, you hand it back and you might lease something else,’ said Torbjorn Loof, chief executive of Inter Ikea, owner of the Ikea brand, ‘And instead of throwing those away, we refurbish them a little and we could sell them, prolonging the lifecycle of the products.’

Currently in trial mode, the loans could become ‘scalable subscription services’ and would allow business to rent office furniture, or homeowners to swap out their old kitchen for more modern ones after a period of time. ‘You could say leasing is another way of financing a kitchen,’ Loof continued, ‘When this circular model is up and running, we have a much bigger interest in not just selling a product but seeing what happens with it and that the consumer takes care of it.’

Also teaming up with charities to save used items from dumps by donating them to those in need, this is just the latest in a string of moves to become more environmentally friendly. Later this month, their Greenwich, London store will open, having 80% of the energy needed to run it coming from solar panels- plus electric vans and bikes on hand for deliveries.

While the sustainability motive is noble, of course, the fact that there is demand for a scheme that enables people to loan furniture as oppose to buy it speaks volumes about the lack of permeance in our home lives. In 2017, it was report that the number of people renting in the UK had doubled since 1996, amounting to one fifth of the population. Now, more recent reports state that it’s not just a millennial problem, with middle-aged people twice as likely to be renting from a private landlord compared to 10 years ago.

The country being stuck in a renting crisis seen some relief last month when letting fees were banned and 5-week deposits enforced, thanks in large part to The Debrief’s Make Renting Fair campaign that began in 2016. However, it doesn’t change the fact that so many of us still can’t get on the housing ladder and will be subject to moving house every year for the foreseeable future.

The largest furniture supplier tapping into this new market for loanable furniture speaks volumes about how likely this trend is to continue. And what does this lack of permeance do to our lives? Putting aside to costs and time of moving once a year, or at best renewing your tenancy and being subject to potentially higher rental payments, the lack of security is bound to have a huge impact on renter’s mental health.

In fact, mental health charity Mind addressed this very issue when they launched a major housing campaign last year after finding that 79% of people with mental health problems say a housing situation has caused or made their mental health worse.

‘Housing and mental health are often linked,’ Paul Spencer, a policy manager at Mind told The Guardian at the time, ‘The lack of security in rented accommodation can be damaging for mental health and involuntary home moves can have a particularly severe effect … For those of us with mental health problems, it may also mean you have to move away from mental health services or other services in your community that were supporting you.’

Trapped in an unstable system that gives you little to no security, the fact we now can’t even keep hold of our furniture for more than a year is bleak. While the supply of loanable furniture may be progressive for the environment, the demand for it is anything but.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us