The endpoint of a linear economy. (Photo: Movement)
Welcome back, Gentle Readers!
How are your allergies? For those also suffering in New England, there is the additional friendly visual reminder of fine yellow particles covering everything from windows to cars plus other outdoor inanimate objects.
It’s been pretty bad. We might be counting bodies after allergy season is over.
You may insert Ten Plagues of Egypt joke here.
But I digress.
So, we are here because we have wanted to broach the subject of a circular economy for some time.
For one, a quick search online for “circular economy” returns many academic-y results that aren’t exactly user-friendly or exciting reading material for us everyday folks.
Second, we believe the circular economy is meant to be common knowledge.
It will only work if enough people can understand and get behind it.
Knowledge guides our actions. Knowledge is power because each of our actions can collectively determine an outcome that is much greater than us.
In this case, the outcome will be the course of our planet’s future.
Therefore, it’s time to power up.
So let’s begin by introducing circular economy’s antithetic archetype, the linear economy.
Look at it this way, don’t you hate it when you go to the bathroom (literally already on the throne) and there’s only one square of toilet paper left?
You know, the sad single square that’s essentially useless because half of it gets stuck on the cardboard roll anyway?
What could be worse?
How about realizing there are no more rolls in the house?
They say we never appreciate what we have until it’s gone. Toilet paper makes a fine example.That is basically how a linear economy works (explained in a very First World problem sort of way).
A linear economy designs a product’s life cycle to travel from raw materials as a start point to waste as the endpoint.
Therefore, start point ≠ endpoint.
A linear economy is how we are consuming right now.
If you have come this far, you probably don’t need a refresher course on waste being very, very bad for our environment.
At the same time, we are rapidly depleting materials and energy from nonrenewable resources. Very soon the whole world will run out of toilet paper and worse.
A circular economy mimics Nature. Nature creates no waste. Why should we?
Think about the Earth’s water cycle. We have all seen that chart in school – you know, the one showing different stages of water transforming continuously into liquid, solid, vapor, and then back to liquid, etc.?
We have legit been drinking and bathing in the same 4.5 billion-year-old water as our ancestors and their ancestors before them.
That is how a perfectly circular economy works.
Check out this simple but incredibly nifty illustration from Circular Flanders depicting the three types of economies. (Image: Circular Flanders)
Per the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a global thought leader and champion of this model, the circular economy is based on the following three principles:
- Design out waste and pollution
- Keep products and materials in use
- Regenerate natural systems
Waste and pollution are uniquely man-made. No one else on the planet can reverse the damage except for us.
By “us” I mean everyone. We need all hands on deck.
Consumers cannot be in this fight alone. Companies must step up to rethink and redesign how we consume.
Policymakers must unite different interests to focus on the same agenda.
By spreading the concept and sharing your knowledge, you will give the circular economy a greater chance in becoming a viable solution.
Our knowledge is our power.
We hope today’s post has empowered you to join the fight in ending environmental pollution.
P.S. For a more in-depth understanding of the circular economy, please visit: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/