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Learning to Live LAGOM with IKEA

Ikea Manchester

I have been selected to join Ikea’s Live Lagom project this year. The goal is for participants to become more sustainable, healthier, and more environmentally friendly. Second is the intention to motivate and inspire others to start their own journey towards a Lagom lifestyle, so I will be sharing my journey on my blog and Instagram page over the next 9 months.

 

What is Live Lagom?

Lagom comes for the Swedish phrase “Lagom är bäst, which means, ‘the right amount is best.’ It’s about finding the right balance between enjoying what you love, while not taking more from the planet than you need.

With support from a dedicated member of IKEA staff, the aim is to save money, energy and water, reduce waste, and live a healthier lifestyle. We have each been given £100 of IKEA products to help us reach our goals. We will also attend workshops that focus on key issues such as cosy homes, sustainable Christmas, and upcycling.

 

Why does it matter?

“The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.” (Gandhi)

I applied to take part in the project after feeling guilty about the amount of waste we produce since having twins, with a view to repaying some of our nappy dept, and hopefully saving some money too.

The more I think about it, the more I feel that the way we treat the environment is linked with responsible parenting. I hold this view for two reasons.

Firstly, as parents, we take a great deal from the environment to bring up our children. Think about nappy waste, uneaten food (the amount my weaning twins throw on the floor each mealtime), and excesses of washing. Then consider the volume of plastic that makes its way through your children’s hands in the form of toys, cups and plates, bibs, high chairs etc, much of which is ultimately destined for land fill.

Secondly, scientific evidence confirms that climate change will impact on us all, in our lifetime, and, more importantly from a parental perspective, in our children’s and grandchildren’s lifetime. I know I don’t want to have to look my children in the eye and give them feeble excuses about why we didn’t do more. The sooner we make the environment part of our everyday thinking, the more our children will model our behaviour; changes that seem awkward for us at first, will become second nature to them.

It is predicted that we will run out of growing space in our children’s lifetime, yet about one-third of all food produced around the world is wasted; 35% of fish and seafood and just over half of all fruit and veg. This is enough to address hunger across the world.

The world has already exceeded scientists recommendations for CO2 in the atmosphere. This means hot sea water, mass destruction to rainforests, extreme weather, devastating food shortages, which will lead to mass migration, and stagnant seas giving off poisonous hydrogen sulphide gas.

It was reported last month that the world may have already crossed a series of climate tipping points, which means that particular impacts of global heating have become unstoppable. 

In 2018 the intergovernmental panel on climate change said that if we want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees c, we have 12 years to implement, “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes…”

With very recent reports of Greenland ice melting seven times faster than it was in the 1990s and of the earth’s temperature rising at an alarming rate, climate concerns are finally entering day to day conversation.

The time to take action on climate change is now. 

 

If governments don’t even take the climate seriously, what’s the point?

I have to confess that I have not given climate issues as much weight as I should have done. My thoughts have echoed those voiced by a friend of mine who told me recently, “I don’t have the head space for it at the moment.” And that’s an easy line to take, one that makes you feel better about doing nothing. After all, bringing up young children is time consuming and the mental load that comes with it is significant. It’s so easy to put environmental issues on the back burner for a later date.

This position is even easier to justify if you think about the lack of impetus to make policy changes from the worlds biggest polluters. America is currently reversing its climate change policies and in the UK, the climate was given little more than lip service in the general election. So why should we as individuals bother to make changes that are just a drop in the ocean?

The problem with this way of thinking is that climate change will not slow down. While we continue to bury our heads in the sand, we continue to harm the planet at an alarming rate. 

I am currently reading “How to save the world for free” by Natalie Fee. I’m about half way through and what strikes me so far is that she makes a really good case for individuals to take action. She cites plastic pollution as a great example of the impact that telling a story enough times can have. When Sir David Attenborough talked about it on BBC’s Blue Planet II, the government realised it could win votes by doing something about it, manufacturers realised they could win customers by changing their products and change happened. There’s still a long way to go, but even the biggest change has to start somewhere.

Natalie Fee points out that, “If 100,000 readers aged around 25 decided never to buy plastic bottled water again, that would be around 1.14 billion plastic bottles saved and around 86,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions stopped. That’s the same amount of carbon dioxide generated from powering over 10,000 homes for a year. And that’s from taking just one simple action.” (page 13)

 

Where do I start?

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” (Gandhi)

In the early newborn days with twins we used a ridiculous amount of nappies, sometimes several in one changing session. Every parent will have experienced the little showers and poo explosions that happen mid nappy change, just to keep you on your toes. Double the number of babies and the number of nappies is more than I care to mention. With the amount of work and washing involved in using reusable nappies, I don’t feel like it is a practical option for us, but the guilt I feel about our nappy debt is nagging me.

We already recycle everything that can go in to our recycling bins but I know that this isn’t enough, that we need to make more noticeable changes to ‘give something back’.

Finances are another motivator for us. Becoming an unexpected family of five means we have to spend money a lot more carefully – the cost of childcare for two babies at once is considerable for starters.

Tall Dad and I have an ongoing conversation about making changes, cutting back on a few things, and thinking more about the amount of plastic we use.

When I received an email from IKEA inviting Ikea Family Card members to get involved in their Live Lagom initiative, I filled in the application straight away. I found out at the end of September that I had been selected from thousands of applicants to take part in this year’s project. And that’s where my journey begins. 

 

The Live LAGOM products I’ve chosen

As previously mentioned, in order to kickstart the project, each participant has been given £100 worth of IKEA products.

So what have I chosen?

  • Glass bottles – We have to run the tap for ages in our house to get cold drinking water so I now fill two and put them in the fridge to reduce the amount we waste.
  • Ikea 365+ food containers – Over time I want to replace our tupperware collection with these dishes, which are available in a variety of sizes. They are perfect for storing and freezing leftovers and they can go straight in the oven. No cling film required!
  • Vaxer growing kit – This is a bit of an experiment. I am hoping to grow fresh herbs all year round rather than waste the ones I buy from the supermarket (as well as the plastic pots they come in).
  • Knitted throw – I have put this on our bed so I can snuggle under it when the twins inevitably end up sharing with us and we have to push the duvet away from them.
  • Storage box with lid – I plan to use this to store packaging that I know can be recycled but takes a bit more effort than dropping it off at the supermarket. I discovered the Recycle Now website recently that tells you where to recycle various types of plastic that can’t go in your home recycling bin. This includes details of schemes that accept washing tablet bags, cat biscuit bags, the pouches that hand wash refills come in, and various other bits, but it doesn’t make sense to take them every time something runs out.

 

Ongoing

It saddens me that climate change is still not seen as a priority by people who could make a significant difference, but the more I think about it, the more I understand that any step I take, however small, is a step towards changing the world.

A lot of emphasis is put on recycling, but more important is to reduce the sheer amount of stuff we buy, then reuse what we have before buying new. I’m not very good at it mind you as I am a sucker for buying things I’ve seen on Instagram.

I hope that participating in the Live Lagom project will keep me motivated to change my lifestyle for the benefit of the environment and our household finances. It would be amazing if I could inspire other people to do the same.

To that end, look out for my next blog post where I will let you know what changes I’ve made so far towards a Lagom way of life.

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Becci Johnson

Hi, I’m an almost 6 ft, thirty-something living in Manchester. Writer, blogger & mum to twins plus one.

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