The world we know today is based on a take, make and waste economy. Everything from our smartphones to our televisions to our sofas to our toothbrushes are made with an expiration date. Once these possessions reach their shelf life, we dispose of them and they become garbage.
All of this garbage then goes on to waste away in some landfill. It only makes sense to wonder what happens when these landfills overflow.
This system we’ve become so accustomed to has started to take a toll on the planet we call home, yet most people don’t really pay attention to this fact. There are, however, many environmental experts, foundations and organizations that do, and they are working diligently towards a sustainable future.
What is a circular economy?
We must ask this important question first. Is there a feasible way to reverse the damage that has already been done and reset the system?
The answer is yes. The solution lies in the implementation of a circular economy.
A circular economy is an economical structure that reduces the amount of waste we create and increases the use of renewable energy and recyclable resources. It would start from the ground up with the gradual elimination of the depletion of our planet’s natural resources and the global crossover to solar energy.
A shift like this in the backbone of our society would also entail existing companies, or new ones, making some major changes in the processes of production. This includes switching to the use of reusable or biodegradable materials and thinking differently about the functionality and design of their products.
With a circular design in place, we would see our planet’s natural ecosystems regenerate and thrive. The future would look much brighter and greener for generations to come.
The following list lays out the plan for this sustainable system and the necessary changes to be made.
#1 Building Smarter
Reduce, reuse, recycle. We’ve all heard it before. However, in 2020, this means more than separating your plastic water bottles and soda cans from your compostables.
In order to evolve into a more sustainable society, design companies must begin building products with the planet’s well-being in mind. This means using materials that are either biological or technical.
Biological materials are ones that can return to the earth and decompose. I’m sure you’ve heard the term biodegradable before. Materials like this include cotton, wood and other raw or natural resources.
On the other hand, technical resources are ones that can be reused. If companies focus more on remanufacturing, repair and reusing these materials, it would help tremendously to lead us towards a system of waste prevention.
Another essential factor in transforming our linear economy into a circular one is altering our business models to focus on building products that are designed to last longer and to be refurbished and resold at the end of their shelf lives. Producers and manufacturers would receive their own used or damaged goods and reuse the materials for new products.
A major change like this would require huge companies with high-value market shares to put these practices into action. A large-scale shift in our economy like this calls for some powerful players to get involved.
#2 Renewable Energy Resources
In addition to building and designing with the environment in mind, we must also think about our energy consumption. It is crucial that we transition away from our current means of obtaining fuel and the detrimental effect it has on our planet.
Applying the structure of a circular economy would bring with it the transition to solar energy, or the harnessing of the sun’s light and heat to generate energy.
The use of solar energy around the globe would put an end to wasteful exhaustion of our planet’s natural resources. It is becoming a more and more accessible option for homes, businesses and factories as we strive to achieve sustainability.
#3 Introducing a New Industry
As we change the foundation of our manufacturing companies and refigure the way our devices and gadgets are designed, we will witness a reversal of the destruction our linear economy has caused. We will also see the rise of a new industry.
It is important to not only restructure from within these companies, but to also ensure that the proper systems are in place to guarantee the success of these new practices. This process requires new skills and would create jobs. Environment-focused careers geared towards the operations of a circular economy will bloom.
#4 Choosing Sustainability
So how can you do your part to reach this goal of a circular economy? There are a few ways. Start by choosing to work with or buy from companies that are implementing these changes.
We are still a long way from a sustainability driven society. By voting for the right policy makers who are working towards turning this concept into reality, you can help guide our society in the right direction. You can also offer financial support to foundations and organizations that are involved in the research, education, and advancement of this societal transformation.
The benefits we can reap as a society from the acceptance of a circular economy are massive. However, a transition to renewable energy, reusable resources and design-to-last production is not only favorable but it is also a necessary step that we must take to hold our place on this earth.
If we take a tip from nature, we can achieve a harmonious, natural way of living that reduces our impact on our planet. Think of an animal. It lives off of the earth and when it dies, it’s body either rejoins the earth, decomposing and depositing nutrients into its soil, or it is repurposed as food for another animal.
We, as humans with all of our worldly possessions, must work to emulate this act in nature in order to protect our world and its future. By ditching our linear way of creating and implementing a circular economy, we can work towards this balance.