The Circular Economy
What is it? Why does it matter? Explore the philosophy and mindset required for Circularity.
As more changemakers reinvent systems to use the power of creation to reverse the damage and preserve the planet, the idea of building a thriving circular economy is taking a more concrete shape. Let’s run over some key ideas that form the base of a circular economy.
1. The Circle
In essence, circularity is about keeping materials at their highest value for as long as possible - it’s about designing out waste such that there is minimal waste. Discarding the conventional idea of “take, make and replace”, it prioritizes making more and taking less. Using and reusing waste materials, repairing, recreating, and finally reducing the use of virgin natural raw materials.
2. Embracing the Indian Circular heritage:
Remember the time when old clothes were exchanged for new utensils and then those old clothes were sold further at cheaper prices and then repaired and used multiple times? Fundamentally Indian patterns of consumption have had circular practices in them always. One single product is used multiple times, then is sold/bought by waste collectors, given a new life or form, and is sold again. Whether it is intentional or not we have been doing things in an inherently circular way all this while, and now there is a need to formalize these circular systems to encourage and support those who work responsibly to create using natural raw materials.
3. Design the Waste
Resources are kept in play for as long as possible to ensure that every bit is used and is used multiple times. The process begins with designing things in a way that designates a clear path toward an ongoing use of all materials and parts involved. The end of one use marks the seamless beginning of another.
4. Value is not equal to Consumption
The Circular economy requires that value creation be decoupled from the consumption of natural resources. How valuable a product is, is defined by its ability to last for multiple diverse uses and to minimize both waste as well as the use of finite natural resources. Inspired by the natural world, where each organism ensures that the earth remains a stable, self-contained ecosystem like how nutrients that are metabolized by life processes are generated from other living systems after their death.
Mindless consumption has led to a disconnect between the environment, communities, and consumers. The distance between users and creators of a product has allowed a system of inequity to perpetuate. A single purchase starts a cycle, a ripple effect, that starts with you.
What choice are you going to make?