A few years ago, Alexandra Galef, Sustainability Development Leader at IKEA, brought home an air sensor to get an understanding of the indoor air quality in her home. She was surprised to see that her air wasn’t as clean as she thought.
“Indoor air can be worse than outdoor air. Even though you can’t see or smell anything in the air, there could be very small particles or invisible gases like formaldehyde present,” says Alexandra.
Alexandra Galef, Sustainability Development Leader at IKEA.
According to the World Health Organization, air pollution is estimated to kill seven million people worldwide every year. Globally, 9 out of 10 people breathe air that exceeds WHO guideline limits for air pollutants. Air pollution is a leading cause of heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and cancer. Recent research also links air pollution to dementia, diabetes and low birth weight.
“Particles released from frying food, using a fireplace, or from outdoor air pollution seeping inside can pose a significant risk. The smallest particles are the most dangerous, because they can’t be filtered easily by the human body. These particles make their way into the lungs and eventually enter the bloodstream damaging the vital organs,” says Henrik Telander, Product Owner at IKEA.
While using an air sensor in her home, Alexandra saw that even a small shift in behaviour could make a big change. Airing out your home by opening windows when the outside air quality is good can make a big difference.
“It’s important to use healthier cleaning chemicals and to choose furniture that has emission limits and non-toxic components when you introduce new elements into the home,” she says.
Henrik Telander, Product Owner at IKEA.
Both Alexandra and Henrik work with indoor air quality at IKEA. Based on studies and research they have gotten to know how our actions impact the indoor air quality and how can we deal with it in everyday life at home.
“Healthy air is everyone’s right, no matter who we are or where we live. That’s why we at IKEA decided to look into how we can contribute to helping as many people as possible to breathe clean air,” says Henrik.
The work has now resulted in the air purifier FÖRNUFTIG, launching in China this fall. FÖRNUFTIG is specially designed for small space living.
“Breathing clean air is essential for a healthy life,” says Henrik who has been using an air purifier for the past year.
IKEA doesn’t only work with indoor air solutions, there’s also a work done to eliminate the root cause of the problem. This is done by reducing air pollution from our own operations, such as by transitioning to cleaner renewable energy, and phasing out chemicals to avoid any harmful effect to people’s health or the environment throughout the product lifecycle.
What is special about FÖRNUFTIG?
“We know that air purifiers are not affordable for many. By using less material in a smarter way, we tried to make FÖRNUFTIG an affordable product. Another ambition has been to ensure a low running cost for the customer. To enable that we have managed to significantly lower the energy consumption and to make the filters affordable. If the filters aren’t affordable, you will hesitate on changing them regularly, and then you won’t be able to continue breathing healthy air,” Henrik says.
In what way has the development of FÖRNUFTIG changed your habits at home?
“I was awakened while working on this project and became more careful in my everyday life. Now, I know how I can keep the air in my home healthy, even while cooking or cleaning.”
What was the most challenging part of developing FÖRNUFTIG?
“To make the product and its parts affordable while not losing its quality and performance.”
Can we expect more products connected to clean air in the future?
“We take the topic ‘Clean air at home’ very seriously, and this new range is a long-term commitment for us. We can say already that we will launch a couple more products during 2021,” Henrik says.
FÖRNUFTIG will be launched firstly in China mainland in November 2020, and rolled-out in other IKEA markets starting from February 2021.