Look. We’re big fans of IKEA. We might be slightly beyond the, “Hey, let’s test our relationship by spending our Saturday afternoon (and half the evening) putting together this bookcase” stage, but we’re not above hiring someone to do it for us, to be honest. And, if you really know your IKEA merch, you may just recognize a couple of candle holders, picture frames, dishware, and assorted other knickknacks throughout our place.
But, sometimes IKEA does something extra cool that deserves attention, and this is one of those times. The company has developed your next must-have item: A curtain named GUNRID that essentially uses photosynthesis to clean the air in the room. Not only will you want to swap our all your other window coverings for this new curtain, but its introduction could also have important health consequences all around the world.
“Air pollution within the home causes 3.8 million deaths a year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO),” said EcoWatch. “A recent University of Colorado in Boulder study reported by The Guardian found that cooking a full Thanksgiving meal could raise levels of particulate matter 2.5 in the house higher than the levels averaged in New Delhi, the world’s sixth most polluted city.”
In fact, air pollution is the greatest environmental health risk on Earth, per WHO, causing everything from cancer to heart and respiratory disease to stroke. “And if you think you’re safe at home, you’re wrong: Indoor pollution can be five times worse in some parts of the world,” said Fast Company. “WHO says that while outdoor pollution kills an estimated 3 million people per year, indoor pollution kills 4.3 million.”
Lena Pripp-Kovac, Head of Sustainability at Inter IKEA Group, said in a company news release that this product, which is expected to ready for market next year, is intended to impact both actions and understanding. “Besides enabling people to breathe better air at home, we hope that GUNRID will increase people’s awareness of indoor air pollution, inspiring behavioural changes that contribute to a world of clean air,” she said. “GUNRID is the first product to use the technology, but the development will give us opportunities for future applications on other textiles.”
GUNRID uses a “mineral-based surface treatment” that can break down air pollutants in the home when the curtain comes into contact with light. As the company notes, “Other versions of this photocatalyst have been around before, but IKEA’s version is the first that can be activated by indoor light—not just sunlight.”
This isn’t the first effort IKEA has made to be more eco-friendly. Per the release, “For many years, IKEA has been reducing air pollution from its own operations by phasing out hazardous chemicals and reducing air emissions. Last year, IKEA launched the Better Air Now! Initiative, aiming to turn rice straw – a rice harvesting residue that is traditionally burned and contributes heavily to air pollution – into a new renewable material source for IKEA products. IKEA has also committed to becoming climate positive by 2030, reducing our overall climate footprint by 70% on average per product (compared to 2016).”