The government and many organisations, charities, and activists are actively finding ways to live cleaner, greener, and more resourceful lives, this involves supporting and working towards a more circular economy. Many of us will have heard this term before, but knowing exactly what this means and how we can achieve this will help us on our way to living more economical lifestyles.
What is the circular economy?
The circular economy is an advancement of the way the world produces and consumes both goods and services. This circular economy is an economic system of closed loops in which raw materials, components, and products lose their value as little as possible. The overall aim of the system is to waste less of the earth’s resources, by extending their life through reuse and recycling.
The circular model redefines the economy and the earth’s resources, around principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use for as long as possible.
The 3-R approach:
- Reduce (minimum use of raw materials)
- Reuse (maximum reuse of products and components)
- Recycle (high-quality reuse of raw materials)
What a circular economy means
The circular economy means changing our actions and attitude towards waste, ensuring that we are minimising it as much as possible. Currently, many consumers’ approach towards products purchased, is to buy, use, discard – a cradle to grave scenario. The circular economy was introduced to change these habits, ensuring all products life is extending far beyond their supposed capability, through, reduce, reuse and recycle strategies – changing to a cradle to cradle life-cycle.
This can be achieved by redesigning products to be more durable, reusable, repairable, and recyclable, and therefore kept in circulation for as long as possible. But this will only work if the consumers change their mindsets towards waste, and think of every product they purchase as valuable, and in turn rethinking consumerism as a society.
What are the benefits of a circular economy?
A circular economy offers a wide range of social, economic, and environmental benefits.
By maximising the lifetime of our products and materials and helping to reduce waste, this will mean the there will be a reduction in the demand for raw materials, which in turn will reduce the environmental impact associated with obtaining them. By using recycled raw materials will take less energy when manufacturing products, therefore reducing carbon emissions. In turn, whether we are reducing the levels of raw materials in the first instance or recycling them – there is far less of an impact on our environment.
The circular economy, if done right, both shrinks harmful activities such as carbon emissions, air pollution, and toxicity exposure, and increases positive actions such as habitat restoration, renewable energy, and cleaning the air.
Small steps make a big difference
You do not have to move mountains, nor make drastic lifestyle changes to pledge your support towards a circular economy. Small, sustainable steps make a big difference to the planet. This could be in the form of, advancing your recycling methods, learning a new trade or skill to help re-use or repurpose items, even reducing the levels of products/waste you produce. All these things are easily achievable and are effortless yet resourceful lifestyle changes. Take a look at our Cromwell Literature Bank, to guide you towards becoming a greener version of yourself.