Green Business: IKEA Adds “Restore” to Sustainability Goals

Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Good start. But we need a few more letters.

On the front end, I propose, let’s add an R for “Refuse.”

The world’s climate change challenges aren’t going to be solved by doing better while we still take and make too much. Speaking as a First World citizen, at the heart of it, we have to use less. Of everything.

With that out of the way, let’s look at the back end. After the R for Recycle, let’s make room for Rot.

As in, whatever you can’t recycle, please send to compost. (Feel free to quibble to be had that composting is already rolled in to Recycling, but I feel it bears special attention.)

Which brings us to the most important R of all: Restore.

There’s a compelling case to made going past doing less harm, or slowing the rate of harm, or ceasing the harmful activities entirely.

If the next generation is going to have a world that they can thrive in, or any world at all the ways things are going, we have some cleaning up to do.

The next active step is to heal, to fix, and Restore our natural world, ecosystems and communities to sustainable, balanced health.

I’m starting to see examples of  this in the business world with Sustainability commitments that explicitly address Restoration.

As an example, IKEA just issued new 2020 Sustainability targets to increase the availability of clean water where it operates.

Via edie.net:

IKEA to become ‘water positive’ by 2020
IKEA Group has revealed its new sustainability strategy which includes measures to balance its water footprint and contribute to the increased availability of clean water in the communities where it operates.

A Restore mindset is about leaving the world a better place, which is exactly how American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson defined success:

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot, Restore.

I’ll be on the lookout for more Restore examples like this one from IKEA.

Green Living: Fix that Leak

In honor of the EPA’s national “Fix a Leak Week” (yes, that’s a thing), here’s a household tale of a quick flood and a slow leak.

I don’t know why my husband and I decided to come home early, but I’m glad we did. The second we opened the door, we both heard the ominous sound of running water.

We bolted down the basement stairs to discover about an inch of water covering half the basement floor.

The supply tube that brings clean water into the downstairs toilet had given way and water was spewing out across the floor. A quick turn of the stop valve right next to the wall stopped the flood so we could survey the damage.

We were lucky that we got home so soon after the flood started. Mopping up took only an hour. With a new $5 supply tube from the local hardware store, we were back in business.

It got me thinking about how much water we wasted that day down the drain and how much impact it would have on our monthly New Jersey American Water bill.

That math was complicated by my discovery that the upstairs toilet also was wasting water with a slow leak from the tank into the bowl.

The EPA says that an American home can waste, on average, more than 10,000 gallons of water every year due to running toilets, dripping faucets, and other household leaks.

Considering that one out of 8 people on this planet do not have access to safe drinking water, that’s a crime.

An easy way to check for tank leaks is to place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after 15 minutes, you have a leak. (Flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining the tank.)

Since I wanted to know how much water I was wasting, I checked the water meter before and after a set period when no water was being used.

In one hour, the meter showed three gallons of water gone.

Three gallons of water doesn’t sound like that much, but over a week, it adds up to over 500 gallons of clean, processed water gone literally down the drain. At a few pennies per gallon, over a month, that’s another $5 on my monthly bill.

Fixing this problem required a few tools and a $15 replacement valve and float kit from the hardware store. No more running water, no more leak.

To learn more about fixing common indoor leaks, visit the EPA’s WaterSense site and download New Jersey American Water’s Water Leak Detection Kit.