Does the circular economy support sustainability? This two-part series begins by unpacking the root causes of the ‘wicked problems’ causing our sustainability crises, and then calls out some of the false solutions emerging from businesses around the world.
Rae Stanton is the Earthcare Retail Lead for Lush Cosmetics UK and Ireland, using Permaculture principles to provide environmental best practice insight and guidance on packaging, sourcing regenerative ingredients and much more.
We find out how Lush embeds Permaculture and regenerative agriculture approaches into its business practices, and why Lush realised it needed to ‘own the packaging solution’ instead of relying on municipal recycling collections. Rae explains how Lush engaged its customers in designing ‘bring-back’ solutions, including asking them how much the reward should be.
Laura Meijering, a designer, fashion lover and entrepreneur from The Netherlands. While studying, Laura watched the True Cost documentary – something inside her snapped and she realised she wanted to be part of a better fashion system. Laura founded Unravelau in 2017, to unravel the threads of fashion and keep only the good parts. She wants to pioneer a new way of designing the clothes we wear. As Laura says, unravelling the fashion industry is a big job, and so Unravelau starts by cutting the crap and spreading awareness of the impact we have on the planet. Unravelau uses only organic and second-hand materials, and produces for customer commissions, so there is no dead stock.
Paraskevi Fotoglou is Sustainability Engineer at Camira Fabrics, a UK textile manufacturing company for task and soft seating.
Paraskevi has expertise in circular economy projects and innovative design ideas. She is exploring new sustainability paths and enhancing circular initiatives with the design, innovation and manufacturing teams across the business.
At Camira she has developed a broad knowledge on environmental accreditation, VOC emissions, the use of chemical substances used within each stage of fabric manufacture, and the incorporation of sustainable fibres.
We talk about some of the sustainable fabric developments, ‘Technical Knitting’, how Camira is developing Environmental Product Profiles, and why sustainability isn’t enough to engage customers and build a successful business.
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. Richard kindly wrote a brilliant piece on Biomimicry for the 2nd edition of Catherine’s Circular Economy Handbook.
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! Richard explains how nature uses structure for colour, which leads me to ask whether some of these developments are actually encouraging consumption.
In this episode, Catherine talks to Dan Dicker,the Founder and CEO of Circular&Co, the new brand name for ashortwalk Ltd and rCUP®.
Dan began his career as a product designer at Dyson, but had a strong desire to live and work a short walk from the sea. So, back in 2003, Dan founded a pioneering Circular Design practice ‘ashortwalk’. Now Circular&Co invent solutions that keep our materials and finite resources in use for as long as possible, whilst preventing them from ever reaching landfill or our oceans.
As well as their range of award-winning products available across 38 countries, they advise, develop, and deliver circular solutions for global brands worldwide, reinventing today’s waste into tomorrow’s Circular products.
We discuss Dan’s design approach, and how Dan believes that businesses going circular have everything to gain financially, as well as environmentally.
Geoff van Sonsbeeck is the Co-Founder and CEO behind the direct to consumer womenswear brands BAUKJEN and ISABELLA OLIVER, and has been at the forefront of the slow, sustainable fashion movement for over 15 years.
We talk about how the two brands are building on their durable and timeless design ethos and evolving a range of circular practices. These include takeback schemes, resale, and rental. Baukjen is also switching to more sustainable fabrics – even moving away from organic cotton.
We also discuss how consumer attitudes are changing, including the growing interest in fashion rental.