IKEA launches homeware made from rice straw to help reduce India's smoke problem

IKEA launches homeware made from rice straw to help reduce India's smoke problem

IKEA will launch a collection of home accessories made from rice straw that would otherwise be burnt by India's farmers and pollute the air. 

Called Förändring, which means change in Swedish, the homeware collection comprises around 15 lampshades, vessels and mats made using a variety of techniques that use up leftover rice straw. Once rice is harvested in India, the straw is commonly burnt by small-scale rural farmers to make way for the the new crop. This smoke contributes to the smog peaks that causes numerous health problems for the population of northern India, where nine out of 10 of the world's most polluted cities are situated.

Instead, IKEA is collaborating with rice straw collectors to make products with the Swedish company's existing suppliers in the region. The project was unveiled today as part of this year's Democratic Design Days, IKEA's annual conference, at the company's headquarters in Älmhult, Sweden. "This is a completely new material for IKEA," explained Helene Davidsson, IKEA sustainability manager in south Asia. We work with small-scale farmers and local authorities to see how we can change habits and make a positive change, to stop burning and instead show that we can take care of it by collecting the straw and making these products,"

Akanksha Deo, an IKEA product designer based in India, worked with suppliers on two methods of using the rice straw waste. Her lampshades and vessels are made from a pulp that is a mix of rice straw and fabric waste, while for the mats and rugs the lengths of straw are twisted into a cord to be woven. The mats come in three different sizes.

The designer used cotton for the warp of the larger rug, in a gradient of blues from light to dark across its surface. Cotton has been woven into the rice straw cord for some of the smaller rugs to make them more durable and comfortable underfoot.