We use cotton in many of our products, from sofas and cushions to bed linen and mattresses. It is a soft, durable and renewable fibre that breathes and is good at absorbing moisture.
All these great qualities make cotton one of our most important materials, but it isn’t without its challenges, much having to do with conventional farming methods that negatively impact the environment and poor working conditions for farmers.
With our size and production volumes, we want to drive change in the cotton industry. By only using recycled cotton or cotton from more sustainable sources, working with partnerships and initiatives on the ground and prioritising compliance, we believe that we can make a positive impact in the world of cotton.
When a new born baby’s eyes open for the first time, the central nervous system is still not yet fully developed. The eyes cannot see a distance of more than 20-40 cm, about as far away as the nursing mother's face. But by interacting with a variety of impressions, like colours, shapes, touches and sounds, the development of the small child's brain is stimulated. This is explained by researcher Krister Svensson, who has studied children's development, play and learning for many years.
"But resting is just as important as the stimulation. The brain occasionally needs rest from the impressions in order to sort it all and relate everything to what it previously registered."
Toys adapted to the small baby can contribute to these important impressions which stimulate the brain's development. But what is it that really makes a certain toy enticing to the child?
"Often it's something that stands out in their surroundings and draws attention to itself", says Krister. "Maybe black dots on a yellow giraffe or the sound of a rattle."
Designer Malin Unnborn, who designed the KLAPPA toys collection, wanted to find those specific details that could create curiosity and lead to play.
"For example, for the picture book and the ball I used colours with strong contrasts and fabrics with different structures, such as glossy and matte, soft and rough."
On the snuggle blanket, the play mat and the baby gym, Malin made shark fins, ears and other details that stick out just enough for small and curious fingers to pinch them.
KLAPPA became an entire world of imaginative animals, plants and planets to explore.
”Maybe it’s not that important for the baby that it's a crab looking up at the edge of the play mat”, Malin says. "But it can entice an older child to play with their younger sibling."
Krister feels that toys also play an important social function in the child's development.
"They act as tools for social interaction between you and your child, and it's you who gives the toys life and meaning."
For example, by naming a rattle 'a yellow giraffe', you can talk about it, and when you take turns holding the giraffe, an understanding in the child arises as to how they themselves are a part of a context. Play is based on interaction and is quite simply a necessity for a human being’s development, says Krister.
"To become a human being requires interaction with other people."
Since 2015, all cotton in IKEA products is either recycled or comes from more sustainable sources*. This means that we only source cotton grown using sustainable farming practices that reduce the use of fertilisers, pesticides and water, improve working conditions and earnings for farmers, and benefit ecosystem health and biodiversity conservation. We have set up a system that enables use to trace all our cotton and ensure that the final product is from approved, certified sources.
*Cotton from more sustainable sources commits to the following schemes: Better Cotton (as defined by BCI, including their equivalence in various geographies), cotton from farmers working towards the BCI standard (TBC).
Each year, IKEA uses around 0.5 percent of all cotton grown around the world. This may not seem like a lot, but the number is big enough to drive change in the industry.
For many years, we have been working with partners and stakeholders globally to transform conventional large-scale cotton farming and set social and environmental standards for cotton production. As an example, we helped set up the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) who runs the world’s largest cotton sustainability programme. BCI exists to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector’s future. Today, more than 110,000 farmers have adopted more sustainable farming practices within IKEA projects.
All IKEA products are produced in accordance with the IKEA IWAY Standard, our Supplier Code of Conduct. It sets out the minimum environmental and social standards expected from our suppliers, including compliance with local laws. We do not accept any form of forced labour, child labour or treatments in breach of our supply chain requirements.
Our cotton teams across the globe ensure that all cotton used in IKEA products meets the demands of compliance in our supply chain. By having teams on the ground in areas where it has previously been challenging to work responsibly, we can challenge the traditional ways of working and improve the industry.
If we discover that we are acting in places where we cannot ensure our requirements are being met, we follow-up on the ground and drive change.