What is the Circular Economy?

The words ‘circular economy’ are being used more and more in recent years, both in business meetings and in sustainability talks. While the popularisation of circular economy in the 21st century may be strongly tied to the progress towards sustainable development, its practices are nothing new and some date back hundreds of years.
In this article, let’s have a look at what makes circular economy different from its opposite – linear economy, and why it is so crucial to sustainable development. Lastly, let us share some of our favourite tips for how to engage in and support circular economy.

Circular in contrast with linear

To understand what circular economy is, we must first explain its opposite – linear economy – a system within which resources make their way from one end to the other, being disposed of once they are of no use. This is the economy of single-use items with an expiration date, which has for so long been perceived as most profitable, even though it does not have to be so.

We can repair the damage done to the environment by linear economy, for example by reforesting forests or removing plastic from the ocean, but it would be even better if these reparations did not have to be done. If we had a system where resources are not viewed and single-use and recycling or the use of renewable energy is the standard. Such non-linear solution is also becoming more important as we are slowly coming out of the Covid-19 lockdown and re-evaluating the world and its sustainability.

The benefit of circular

Enter circular economy – a system which keeps resources in rotation, designs waste out of the system and is a crucial element of sustainable development in the 21st century. This starts the minute a product begins to be designed to be most efficient and reusable and continues through the circular lifecycle. If the product does come to the end of its life, it is then recycled, reused in another way or returned to the earth.

The circular economy concept is being adopted by small businesses and, more increasingly, large corporations too. From smaller online stores like us, Rewinder, selling reusable solutions, to large enterprises introducing more circular solutions into their system (for example the many fashion labels launching recycling schemes).

How can you go circular

While introducing circular economy solutions is often up to businesses or governmental organisations, you as an individual can support those that you like and those you don’t. By choosing to take part in circular economy, you are casting a vote towards a future of sustainable development. So how can you do that?

  • Reusing is a big part of circular economy. Get yourself a pair of cloth shopping bags or other reusable alternatives that will last you years!
  • Learn to recycle correctly. Look up what items can and cannot be recycled in your local area and choose materials such as glass or metal which are recycled best.
  • Buy second hand – perhaps the ultimate circular economy solution! You can buy anything from clothing to electronics pre-owned and give it a new life.
  • Get your energy from renewable sources. Switch to a more sustainable energy supplier or invest and go off the grid with your own power sources!

This is not an exhaustive list – there are many more ways for you to support circular economy and sustainable development. All it takes is making conscious choices, one at a time.