Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Heléne Loberg, the head of sustainability of IKEA. Let’s learn what’s happening at IKEA and how Heléne is making a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Hi Heléne, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through IKEA?
Heléne: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! IKEA has the ambition to become a fully circular business by 2030, and we want to contribute to thriving communities, be an inclusive and people-focused company and employer. We want to inspire and enable healthy and sustainable living, and ensure that our products are developed and produced with the least impact on our planet. Our products, and the packaging, will be made of either recycled material or renewable material.
Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?
Heléne: IKEA is part of the problem, and as we are committed to have a healthy business in the future (to continue to serve the many people with affordable and functional home furnishings), we have decided to do everything we can to be a circular business that is giving back more than we take. There are so many people in our world who deserve a better life at home, and we want to make a difference and contribute to positive change!
Spiffy: What is the impact of your work?
Heléne: IKEA is for many people, and we put special attention to people who are experiencing social exclusion, poverty, and other hardships. Our ambition is to create better homes for all people.
Spiffy: That’s great! Can you share a recent organization milestone or initiative, and the impact it has on your audience?
Heléne: We signed a three-year partnership with Furniture Bank (FB) in the greater Toronto area. We donate returned mattresses to FB who are supporting people transitioning from homelessness to their first home with access to furniture. A mattress is one of the most important items a person needs to be able to get a decent life. How can you go to school or manage a job if you can’t sleep properly?
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Heléne: Everyone needs to contribute and take (small) actions. By working together we can achieve a lot. Let’s action sustainable consumption, and how we can reduce, reuse, repair, and share to make things last longer. Let’s support vulnerable people and make use of what we already have. Do you know that you can sell back your IKEA furniture to IKEA? And we sell them at an affordable price to someone in need?
Spiffy: I didn’t know that! Thanks for speaking with me today, Heléne—it’s been an honor!
Heléne Loberg is head of sustainability for IKEA Canada, a world-leading home furnishing retailer. For more than 40 years, Canadians have welcomed IKEA into their homes and have been strong supporters of the IKEA brand, product range, and its vision “to create a better everyday life for the many people.” Heléne is responsible for the integration and implementation of the IKEA People & Planet Positive strategy. She leads the climate-positive, people-focused agenda and community collaborations. (First published on the Ladderworks website on October 18, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.