Traditional style incandescent light bulbs will be dropped from Ikea's shelves by New Year's Day. Starting on the first of August, the Swedish furniture and home decor retailer will phase out these bulbs in its U.S. stores, according to an announcement from Mike Ward, Ikea USA's president.

The move by Ikea, which has over 300 stores in 37 countries, comes ahead of US legislation that will start to phase out the sale of incandescent light bulbs in 2012. Ikea's decision has been praised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Alliance to Save Energy.

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Claiming the title of being the first retailer to completely stop selling the old, environmentally unfriendly tungsten filament "balloon" bulbs, Ikea has undertaken several other "green" initiatives in recent years, such as charging a small fee for plastic bags at the checkout registers, urging customers toward reusable bags, and offering consumers a safe way to recycle compact fluorescent bulbs.

"We also believe our customers are looking for everyday environmentally responsible solutions for themselves. Eliminating incandescents is a simple way to lead the charge for Ikea customers to use energy-saving light bulbs, thus reducing energy consumption and reducing the amount of greenhouse gases. It's a little step with a big impact on our planet," Ward observed.

Consumers have other options aside from incandescent bulbs, such as LED bulbs (20 time longer lasting, 70% less energy) and compact fluorescent bulbs (up to 10 times longer lasting, 80% less energy). Also this fall, Ikea will begin selling halogen bulbs that can be used in standard light sockets. Halogen bulbs use 30% less energy last up to four times longer.

"By only putting good options on the shelf, retailers can make it easy for customers to do the right thing, in this case reduce their energy use and impact on the environment," commented Jason Clay, senior VP at the WWF.