Increasingly in sustainability circles you've likely been hearing about a circular economy. In our modern world, it has become impossible to separate sustainable development and economics—hence the idea of a circular economy is deeply embedded in strategies to draw-down our environmental impact as it is a way for sustainable ideas and change to participate in an already established system. If you're wondering exactly what that means, the neat thing is that you are likely already participating in some facet of a circular economy, we just need to take this model and scale it. Many of the decisions we make every day, and nearly all of the products we sell at Sustain naturally support a circular economy, as do the consumer habits we are working to share and spread.
Also, as our global waste output continues to rise, we are faced with little choice but to reduce/eliminate before there is no turning back—waste reduction strategies rely on the development of a circular economy, as opposed to the linear one that exists today.
Here are the main differences between a linear and a circular economy:
•relies on single-use products destined for landfill
•demands very little responsibility from the manufacturer to ensure their products can be properly disposed of
•relies on raw materials
•relies on existing recycling infrastructure as well as access to it, which not everyone has
•makes change slow and difficult
•products are designed so that resources can be reused and reinvested in new products again and again (waste is designed out of the process)
•demands that manufacturers be more responsible for the materials they use and products that are made
•decreases reliance on raw materials, relieving stress on the environment and regenerating land
•recycling infrastructure will be augmented by manufacturers that accept their products back for recapture/recycling after end-of-use
•repair and reuse become viable options
•consumer behaviour shifts towards reusables
Sustain carries a huge array of products that support a circular economy and a reusable culture. When we select a product for the store, we investigate what it's made of, and how it's disposed of at the end of its useful life, taking great care that virtually nothing from the store ends up in landfill. We also ensure that we offer very high quality goods so that each product enjoys many years of use before it wears out.
To learn more about the circular economic model, we recommend the Ellen McArthur Foundation. Find their video below, called 'Re-Thinking Progress':
There's a world of opportunity to rethink and redesign the way we make stuff. 'Re-Thinking Progress' explores how through a change in perspective we can re-design the way our economy works - designing products that can be 'made to be made again' and powering the system with renewable energy. It questions whether with creativity and innovation we can build a restorative economy.