What is a circular economy?

What is a circular economy?

July 28, 2023

Remember the public school slogan: reduce, reuse, recycle? 

A circular economy focuses on the middle action. It keeps materials, products, and services in circulation for as long as possible compared to the typical model when resources are mined, made into products, and then become waste. 

The United Nations' International Resource Panel concluded that natural resource extraction and processing contribute to about half of all global greenhouse gas emissions. 

Companies which reduce material use, redesign materials, products, and services to be less resource intensive, and recapture "waste" as a resource to manufacture new materials and products show higher profits derived from additional savings.

We as individuals should also be mindful of water, electricity, and other resource usage. What can we do to reuse, recycle and participate in the circular economy?

Let's think about clothes. Some of my clothes are second-hand, the things that I love, and you would never guess where I bought them. Our old jeans are accepted at the Madewell store or picked up by Zappos and used as an insulating material for building efforts, pet bed inserts, and thermal insulation used in sustainable food and pharmaceutical packaging.

I'm in three book clubs, and some books are unavailable at my library. I buy used books that likely were read once by someone else.

TerraCycle's website is my favorite. It offers many opportunities to recycle for free. I collect all kinds of things. For example, I have a box under my sink to collect used toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes. Once a year or so, I mail the package to Colgate using the shipping label they provide. Same with Gilette. They accept all brands of razors, razor blades, and packaging. I also collect Brita filters and bring UPS envelopes back to the UPS store. There is a coffee bag and pod program. Old Nike sneakers are accepted at most Nike stores. Shoe rubber is used to make kids' playgrounds. 

I encourage you to check out the TerraCycle website and recycle more stuff to be reused for other purposes and support the circular economy.