The easiest joke to make about IKEA is that few of its products—from shelves to meatballs—are made from what they seem. But even particleboard still requires wood—and a lot of it, when you’re selling 100 million products every year.
According to Pacific Standard, IKEA uses a whopping one percent of the world’s commercial wood supply. That’s 17.8 million cubic yards, or 3.2 million cubic miles. If you laid it out in one inch-thick panels, it would cover 1.3 billion square miles—many times the surface area of the Earth.
Plenty of critics would argue that IKEA is unnecessarily depleting the world's forests, given the short half-life of most of its products. To its credit, though, IKEA seems pretty committed to sourcing its materials sustainably; 25 per cent of its wood is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which ensures that the wood is legally and sustainably sourced (the goal is to increase that figure to 50 per cent within the next five years).
It turns out that IKEA actually split its wood sourcing and production arm into its own company, Swedwood, back in 1991. Right now, it employs 15,000 people at 46 different manufacturing sites, where the engineering group sources, harvests, and readies raw wood for production. Now, if only some intrepid photojournalist would go visit. [Pacific Standard]