Ikea Orlando opened last week, next to the Mall at Millenia, and has been flooded with shoppers each day since then. Although I was already a big fan of Ikea, I was impressed by some of the “green” qualities of the new store. I know what you’re thinking – how could a box that big be green? And, you’re right. It is a huge store, with a huge parking lot, and I’m sure it has a huge carbon debt to pay off. But, I noticed several eco- and family-friendly qualities that made a difference to me.
First, Ikea certainly seems to believe in reduce, reuse, recycle. There are recycling bins (separate ones for paper and plastic) alongside trash bins almost everywhere. They charge $.05 for every plastic shopping bag at checkout, or you can buy their enormous reusable blue bag for $.59 and fit in practically everything (they are great for the beach and carrying bulky items home from grocery shopping). They also carry a full line of compact florescent light bulbs, and many of their speciality lights take energy-conserving mini-halogens.
The flat-packed, do-it-yourself-assembly furniture that Ikea sells saves on shipping and storage costs and energy, and their self-serve warehouse keeps costs down and keeps everything under one roof. They sell their floor models and damaged pieces in their As-Is Furniture department (they even had used hard hats from the building construction for sale for $2.00).
Having catalogs available to borrow while in the store keeps customers from taking them just to throw them away, and their rugged covers ensure they are reusable (the catalogs themselves are made with some post-consumer recycled paper). I was even impressed with the toilets in the restrooms – they have two flush settings to conserve water (push the lever up for liquid waste, down for solid waste).
Ikea Orlando is also family-friendly, with a fantastic supervised play area for children 37″ – 54″, as well as several other children’s play spaces scattered throughout the store. The on-site restaurant serves kids’ meals (peanut butter & jelly, meatballs or mac & cheese), but even the adult menu offerings of steamed veggies and salad bar are value-priced options for healthy eaters. They sell jarred baby food and juice, and provide high chairs, bibs and children’s plates, cups and flatware.
Baby changing facilities are available in the main restrooms, in addition to the family facility at each restroom area. Strollers are plentiful and easy to steer. And, the very friendly staff members seem to be especially helpful to families with children.
Finally, it is worth noting that Ikea Orlando has chosen A Gift For Teaching to be its service partner, donating $10,000 to the organization. Happy shopping!
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