Circular Economy and How it helps the Environment

Many moons back, our clothes iron’s thermostat gave up the ghost. When we went to the service centre to get it repaired, we realised that the cost of repairing it was more than the cost of purchasing a new iron. Similarly, when the old refrigerator starting giving us problems, it was easier to replace the refrigerator than to get the old one repaired. Haven’t we all experienced more and more instances of this in the past few decades? From the “kifayati” 1980s, where things were repaired and rarely replaced, the past few decades have seen a rise in consumerism. There has been an increasing trend to use and throw things, be it appliances, devices, clothes, furniture. The markets are filled to the brim with devices, appliances, products. Things that we don’t really need, yet we consumers are tempted to buy. What we don’t realise when we give in to consumerism is the amount of strain being put on our natural resources to produce such goods. Moreover, by using and throwing products, we are creating more waste, adding to our landfills. This was when I came across the term “Circular Economy“. 

But what is Circular EconomyCircular Economy is a system of closed loops in which raw materials, components and products lose their value as little as possible. Renewable resources are used and system thinking is at the core“. This sounds complicated, right? The basic tenet of the circular economy remains the 3R’s (Reduce-Reuse-Recycle). In simpler terms, in a circular economy, there is a push to avoid waste, to re-purpose raw materials(the re-use of 3R’s), and eventually cut the mountain of trash we produce. 

Let’s take a simple example. The rise of fast fashion has meant that we have more clothes in our closets than we actually require. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries, gobbling up resources at an alarming rate. This is where the circular economy can help. The industry needs to pay more emphasis on the quality and material of the clothes. Less wear and tear of clothes means lesser need to replace clothes frequently. The materials used must be sustainable, to avoid strain on natural resources. After the clothes are discarded, they should be repurposed again. While repurposing, the energy and the resources used should also be (ideally) renewable. One important aspect of the circular economy is building durable products. If the appliances do break down, then it should be easier and more cost-effective to repair them. Another aspect of a circular economy is to rent goods rather than owning them. All the steps taken in a circular economy are with the final aim to eliminate or minimise waste. This, in turn, reduces the stress on natural resources.

Of course, for the circular economy to succeed, the corporates and the consumers need to work together. When consumers pick products that are sustainable or recycled, a message is sent to corporates, that yes, they can help the environment and make a profit too. Corporates need to offer sustainable, viably priced products to consumers instead of promoting consumerism. Companies like IKEA, Adidas and H&M are leading the way in promoting a circular economy, and I think it is time the other companies joined in too. 

image source: https://themasites.pbl.nl/o/circular-economy/

If you want to read more about the circular economy here is a list of resources that might like.

https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/concept

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/article/how-a-circular-economy-could-save-the-world-feature

https://www.interregeurope.eu/circpro/news/news-article/8457/circular-economy-in-textile-sector/

This post is part of Blogchatter’s #CauseAChatter – #EnvironmentTalks campaign

One thought on “Circular Economy and How it helps the Environment

  1. Very well written and informative. The good news is that our next generation has realised how mercilessly we have been devouring our planet through consumerism and they are more sensitive on buying only what they need rather than what they desire.

    Liked by 1 person

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