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Circular Insights #26 – the Transformational Twenties?

A belated Happy New Year! I hope you are managing to stay positive through the ongoing bad news from the pandemic and the assaults on democracy in the US and Hong Kong. I’ve managed to recover the feelings of hope and optimism as we moved from 2020 to 2021.

I’m seeing bits of commentary in the press about the ‘roaring twenties’. You probably know that’s referring to the 1920s, the post-war period of industrial prosperity and cultural change that ended with the Great Depression in the 1930s. Interestingly, there were many technology developments with increasing take-up, including cars, phones, radios and electrical appliances in the West.

I don’t think any of us expect (or want!) yet more growth, with its resulting pressure on our planet and people. However, you’re probably seeing massive changes happening around us, and in ways we would have struggled to imagine just a few years ago.

So I’m going to start thinking of this decade as the Transformational Twenties: transforming our thinking about what’s important, and how we CAN make it happen. This theme runs through my recommendations for this week. I’ve changed (transformed?!) the format of the newsletters too, so they should be easier for you to read and pick out what’s useful.

A new podcast series…

39 Ways to Save the Planet is a new series on BBC Radio 4, in partnership with the Royal Geographical Society. Tom Heap (presenter of Costing the Earth) takes us through ideas to relieve the stress that climate change is exerting on the planet. There is a wide range of topics, from climate-friendly rice, why educating women is important, and how wood is being used for modern construction materials.

Tom says “In 25 years of reporting the environment patch I’ve never been so convinced that the world has the potential to change.” It’s about business, politics, timing and ideas – an “eruption of climate change solutions”. Now that sounds transformational!

An uplifting book…

I’ve just finished The Future we Choose, by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac. You might remember that I often recommend episodes of their podcast, Outrage and Optimism.

They say “the actions we pursue are largely defined by the mindsets we cultivate in advance of the doing”, and they set out a number of ways we can change our mindsets. One leapt out for me: the need to abandon thinking about the win-lose scenario. Instead, it’s time to think about a new ‘zero-sum’ game – where we all win together, OR we all lose together. It’s an easy read, hard-hitting about the consequences of doing nothing, but with lots of suggested actions applicable to our work and personal lives. It’s a call to arms – “We know what we need to do, and we have everything we need to do it” – we have to act now.

And a film…

Peter’s local sustainability group held an online screening of the documentary Kiss the Ground, about regenerative agriculture. It’s narrated by Woody Harrelson, and I really enjoyed it. However, be warned that the first 20 minutes are tough going, with all the bad news we pretty much know about from industrial agriculture. After that, there are plenty of inspiring stories about how easy it is to lock carbon back up into our soils, and at the same time improve the health of all living things – including us humans!

The blurb says “by regenerating the world’s soils, we can completely and rapidly stabilize Earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems and create abundant food supplies.” The film shows that “by drawing down atmospheric carbon, soil is the missing piece of the climate puzzle. This movie is positioned to catalyze a movement to accomplish the impossible  to solve humanity’s greatest challenge, to balance the climate and secure our species future.”

It’s on Netflix, or rent it for $1 on Vimeo.

And finally, the Circular Economy Podcast update! We’ve been a bit irregular with emails over the last few months (sorry). That means three podcast episodes have been published since the last newsletter – highlights below.

Coming up! The next episode will feature Peter Desmond, talking about some of the ways he’s helped startups and circular entrepreneurs over the last few years.

Episode 42 – Brian Bauer Of Algramo

Brian Bauer explores how we can use circular approaches for plastic packaging, so we get the benefits of plastic, without the impacts of mismanaged plastic waste. Algramo is a Chilean startup that refills product by the gram from vending machines. These refills provide better value for money as well as offering convenience and reducing waste. Algramo is working with Unilever, Colgate Palmolive and other brands, and is expanding to the US and Europe

Episode 43 – Richard James Maccowan On Biomimicry

Richard is the Founder and Creative Director of the Biomimicry Innovation Lab, with a mission to inspire and share how the natural world can deliver unique solutions by radically reducing the need for resources.  We talk about different aspects of biomimicry and how it can inform the design of objects, systems and much more, including Structure and materials, Swarm behaviour, 3D Printing & termites, Self-repairing and ‘exotic’ materials – and why origami is useful!

Episode 44 – Tamsin Chislett Of Onloan

Tamsin Chislett is cofounder of fashion subscription startup Onloan, which, despite lockdown, has grown strongly in 2020. Customers can enjoy all the newness and variety of fast fashion, but without the waste, and with much better clothes. Onloan is a bit different from other UK fashion rental options because it partners directly with top contemporary fashion brands, and it does all its garment care and logistics in-house.  We find out why fashion subscription works so well for the customer and the brands, why Onloan’s customer base doesn’t fit typical demographics, and how Tamsin convinced those first few brands to come on board.

Have a good week, and practice your ‘transformation’ mindset!


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