The Circular Economy is a way of looking at how we can look to begin to model human industry on natural processes… Still not clear? If you think about the natural world, the way of things is that a plant/animal is born, it lives, it consumes the nutrients it needs to survive, and then it dies. When it dies, it becomes the earth again and contributes to the growth of new plants - or as food for animals higher in the food chain. A circle if you will.
However, humans have adopted a linear approach to our resources, we TAKE raw ingredients, we MAKE what we need and then we DISPOSE of the item once used. If you take a moment to look around where you are sitting right now, what can you see? When that phone/laptop needs upgrading where will it end up? Most people will replace it with a new one, and dispose of the old one - perhaps to landfill. The clothes that you are currently wearing, where did they come from? Bought new? What will you do with them when you don’t wear them anymore? Will they end up in the bin? The recycling?
The Circular Economy is the idea that the items that we use, once we have finished with them, can find new life and be reused - perhaps as the same item in a new setting, or perhaps broken down and reused for new purposes. It’s an idea that goes beyond mere recycling, we are looking to upcycle our items. As such, the things that we use become everlasting - I love the term “cradle to cradle” from MBDC, the image of items getting reborn and reused over and over and over.
But What Can I Do?
Hopefully, this has explained the idea of the Circular Economy to you a little more clearly and now you're wondering how you can begin to be a part of the circle. If you are anything like me, you find the bigger picture of climate change concerning, but the need to “do something” without knowing where to start can be overwhelming at times. What can I as one person do? What impact can I really have? You read an article - like this one about the Circular Economy - you understand the concept, but how can you apply it to your life and begin to make changes?
One Person Can Change Their World
The fact is, by already reading this article, by visiting the POW site and supporting this cause, you are already part of something; of a bigger community of individuals who all BELIEVE in something bigger than themselves. This is the first step in educating yourself, helping you to understand the ‘bigger picture’ and making informed choices as you move forward.
This is often where people hit a roadblock. How do we turn the idea of ‘doing something’ into action, the first thing I am going to say to you is to stop overthinking it! Stop thinking about the endpoint, the goal (the bigger picture) and just focus on yourself and your world.
Educating yourself is the first step in moving forward on your path - remember, one step leads to the next one - and then the next one. Remember, you can never really know where your journey will end up! But if you keep learning and making small, changes along the way, just imagine what the future could look like.
On your sustainable journey, think back to the earlier days - whether it was yesterday or last year. What influenced you to begin educating yourself? To learn more? When I speak to my peers, the answer most of the time is a person in their life - a teacher, family member, friend or colleague. The space that trusted people have in our lives is powerful - and the space that you have in others lives is powerful.
Think about it like this. If you are looking to try a different restaurant, what source would you trust more: an online review site; the restaurant’s social media channels or a good friend who tells you how fantastic/terrible their menu is? Odds are that the friend is the more credible source.
If you then apply this idea to your own journey, you can - and will - influence those around you. You might not have an Instagram following of thousands, but this doesn’t need to be the goal. Start small. For me, it was my husband and close family. From sharing the things I was learning, and talking with passion and conviction, I inspired them to join me on the journey and try out their own ideas.
This is how small - but real - changes can be made in the wider world. You can make a difference to those around you, without even realising it. By being passionate and authentic about a cause you truly believe in.
How to Participate in the Circular Economy
At POW we are aware of how hard it can be to make changes or create new habits. Our desires to become more sustainable can often be in conflict with our resources. POW want to help with this and so we have created a series of blog posts to break down the circular economy. We will take the core concepts and provide you with some ideas and examples on how you can start to apply them to different areas of your life e.g. clothing and fashion; plastics; food and more.
In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the Circular Economy, the Ellen Macarthur Foundation is an excellent source of information to educate yourself and also on how to keep making changes in your life.
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