8 weeks to a Circular Economy | Week 1

September 2, 2018

 

What is Circular Economy amongst all the other green movements?

 

We are constantly confronted with numerous green buzz words; sustainability, footprint, depletion of fossil fuels, soil erosion, polar ice caps that are melting, climate change, the list goes on and on and now it is circular economy. Many believe that these are mere propaganda schemes in a consumerist society in order to create new products to sell. These believers are then [maybe] wrongly dubbed the pessimists in light of our responsibility towards Earth. I aligned myself with the former view for a long time, but believing in a way that it was a natural progression of Mother Nature correcting herself and we are doomed no matter what we do. Hence the pessimistic nature of these thoughts.

 

Then I found myself being Switzerland because with no physical proof to back up my thoughts, in the sense that I am no scientist or historian to be able to analyse and interpret the various data, I am not qualified to make such a decision. Believing that my opinion was naive at best so why should I align myself with a specific thought. 

 

When you stop looking and actually start seeing how a culture or mindset can influence the world around you in big ways, then these questions and a deep niggling starts to claw its way to the surface where you feel so uncomfortable in your skin, something has to be done

 

What makes one society place recycling and green energy on the forefront in every choice they make? Moving from one side of the world to the other and seeing these differences has awakened this responsibility in me. Coming from a culture where the simple act of littering is believed to create jobs as someone has to pick it up, to the total opposite mentality where every street block has three recycling bins dividing plastic, glass and other waste which almost naturally encourages every household to follow this practice. This simple inclusion of a 'green' process down to the individual act has a ripple affect on a whole society.

 

Of course one would argue that not everyone will conform to this practice and this is where legislation comes into play. When these rules are taxed and implemented as a standard practice, can it still be called responsibility? Becomes now it seems more like an obligation?

 

As an architect and designer we have to conform to this legislation and apply these obligations in everything we design/ build/manufacture. 

 

When does something stop feeling like an obligation? When it becomes a part of who you are; becomes something you believe in. I am embarking on a 8 week journey of finding out what exactly circular economy is and how or even if I want to align myself to this cause. 

 

Circular economy is restorative and regenerative by design, moving away from the linear process our current society knows of taking making and discarding (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2018).

 

The circular economy is derived from numerous schools of thought. These include the functional service economy (performance economy) of Walter Stahel; the Cradle to Cradle design philosophy of William McDonough and Michael Braungart; biomimicry as articulated by Janine Benyus; the industrial ecology of Reid Lifset and Thomas Graedel; natural capitalism by Amory and Hunter Lovins and Paul Hawken; and the blue economy systems approach described by Gunter Pauli. 

 

We need to design products that can be made to be made again. How would this translate to professions which offer time? Such as architecture? Sure we can make decisions in all of our designs to exploit materials that are made aligned to this principle, but in terms of how we run our own business, time wise, that is interesting...

 

This will follow with research into what others are doing towards a Circular Economy. Until next week!

 

References: 

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation. S.a. [Online]. Available from: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org. [Accessed: 02/09/2018].

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