‘Peak curtains’ isn’t a phrase I ever thought I’d hear, and out of context it probably doesn’t make much sense either.It was uttered by the head of sustainability for Ikea, Steve Howard, who told a Guardian conference that consumption of many standard consumer goods was at its limit.
In other words; we’ve bought enough.
Howard said the world’s largest furniture store is now ‘building a circular Ikea where you can repair and recycle products’.
This is a laudable aim although I can’t help thinking it’s at odds with the business target of doubling sales by 2020.
I can only think that Howard’s ‘too much stuff’ comments are directed at the west as in the east, where Ikea has a far smaller presence, there is still a large opportunity to export Swedish flat-pack design.
But I digress, let’s get back to his original point. While ‘peak curtains’ is supposed to be a rather tongue-in-cheek way to say we own too much homeware, it holds a far more serious underlying message for us all to think about.
Do we even know when we’ve had enough?
In our last home, and while I was in my previous consumerist mindset, I don’t think I would ever have been satisfied, I never had enough.
It took a huge upheaval for me (including a year spent living out of two drawers) to realise I had had enough of stuff, of collecting, of buying, of keeping, of measuring my worth by the items I owned.
But I wouldn’t have reached that place without the upheaval. I would likely still be collecting and buying, and stalking the aisles of Ikea and coming away with tea lights I didn’t need.
We have been conditioned to think we need new and ‘must-have’ items (from businesses like Ikea!) but if we take a step off that treadmill and think about why we’re purchasing, what we believe those new items (that we often don’t need) will bring us, and whether we could do without, the answer will probably lead us to realise we have enough.