A magazine article in 2017 first introduce me to the concept of a circular economy. It was mentioned several times in a meeting last week with the Minister of Conservation and Climate.
The concept is gaining momentum.
The circular economy is a major change in the assumptions about economic growth.
Traditional thinking believes economic growth happens when more people use more stuff and energy – a straight line.
A video called ‘The Story of Stuff’ describes how our thinking about stuff is often a line – take resources from the earth, make something, sell that something, use it and throw it away. The video describes how that story is really much more complex.
Google it. The twenty minutes is worth it.
The magazine article described the new circular economy that finds ways to loop used stuff back into usefulness by repair or making something new.
Repairs are encouraged by making manuals easy to find. Companies sell a process that their machines do rather than selling the machine. The company replaces used machines, refurbishes them and sends out to do the work again.
Recycling is a great example of looping. Instead of sending stuff to landfills mills recycle it into new stuff. Plastic becomes car parts and carpets. Aluminum cans become new aluminum cans or the body of an airplane. Cardboard becomes new cardboard.
Some other examples are using old cement for aggregate in new cement and recycling old drywall into new drywall.
Self-serve car rental is making it easier to get around without buying a car.
Thinking in circles is important as everything we have comes from the earth. We can’t just keep throwing it away.