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Artwork for Circular Economy Podcast episode 131

131 Re-Action – Sharing: Serving more people with less stuff

This is #2 in the 5th Anniversary mini-series featuring the Re-Action Collective, and focuses on sharing and ‘pay to use’. We hear from the founders of three startups enabling people to have convenient and affordable access to high-quality outdoor gear: Anna Smoothy from Cirkel Supply, Rebecca Heaps from Tentshare and Bruce Leishman from KitUp Adventures.
The strapline for this episode – serving more people with less stuff – was inspired by Anna Smoothy at Cirkel Supply. I loved their aim, to serve more people with less products. and that aligns with one of my favourite phrases at the moment, about the need for businesses to do better, with much less.
Sharing, including ‘pay to use’ systems, is one of the 3 key circular economy strategies that I encourage businesses to focus on. Sharing can be a catch-all term for commercial arrangements that make it easy to use something for a short period, rather than owning it. These systems can help organisations to serve other organisations, to serve individuals, or for people to serve other users.
For decades, we’ve been happy to rent houses, holiday accommodation, cars, skis and bicycles, movies and more – and now people are branching out into other categories. Rental and subscription services are popping up for technology, fashion and accessories, home appliances, furniture and more, avoiding the need to buy things you aren’t sure you’ll want to use over the long term. Often, these are disruptive startups using online platforms to provide convenient, flexible ways to access high-quality brands at affordable prices.
Sharing is really coming to the forefront, in particular for younger people who want access to the stuff they need and see ownership as a burden, not a benefit.
Global revenue growth for sharing and renting is forecast to grow at 30% each year, and is key to helping us do much more, with much less. In other words, we get more use – or productivity – from underutilised assets – meaning we need fewer of them in the overall system. This is sometimes referred to as Decoupling. (The UN defines Absolute Decoupling as “a situation in which resource productivity grows faster than economic activity (GDP) and resource use is absolutely declining.”)

Circular Economy Podcast - Episode 106 Yael Shemer of Tulu - everyday essentials on-demand

106 Yael Shemer of Tulu – everyday essentials on-demand

In episode 106, we hear from another disruptive start up, helping people ‘get more, from less’ – shrinking the footprint of production and consumption by improving the utilization of under-used objects.
Today, I’m talking to Yael Shemer, an environmental entrepreneur and the co-founder and chief customer officer of TULU. Tulu is an on-demand service, enabling people to access things to help them cook, host, clean, and do DIY. Tulu operates in residential buildings and student housing, with customers renting things by the hour. It curates the kinds of items residents are looking for, installs a smart unit to display and stock the items, with a one-click app to manage access.
Tulu is already in 22 cities across 3 continents, servicing 70,000 households. It was founded in 2018, by Yael and her co-founder, architect Yishai Lehavi. Tulu is now part of the MIT DesignX venture program, and has already raised nearly $30 million dollars.
Yael Shemer has led several ventures in the field of urban communities and sustainable living. This year, Yael was selected as a Forbes 30 under 30.
We’ll hear how Tulu provides benefits for everyone in the system – landlords are able to create a better experience for their tenants, tenants get access to equipment and other things that make life easier or more enjoyable, and the equipment brands can create deeper, two-way relationships with customers.

Circular Economy Podcast - Gene Homicki - getting more from less with MyTurn

105 Gene Homicki – getting more from less with MyTurn

We’re going to hear about some amazing software that helps with the 2nd of the 3 key circular strategies I advise people to use… getting more, from less. Finding ways to get more use out of under-utitlized objects can have big benefits, especially by reducing costs.
When we think about it, there are probably lots of things – both tools and toys – that we don’t use all day, every day. Sometimes we only use these things once or twice a year! But often, we want to be sure we can have access to that equipment, or that product, whenever we want. Those needs might be planned, say for camping equipment, or unplanned – like repair tools.
Today, we’ll hear from Gene Homicki, founder and CEO at MyTurn, a B2B platform that transforms idle equipment into value. MyTurn helps organizations to optimize asset usage, reduce waste, and generate revenue by making it easy to offer rental, lending, and product subscription services.
Gene is a serial entrepreneur and technology strategist who is dedicated to advancing the circular economy and sustainable systems. Over his career, he’s led teams delivering cutting-edge solutions for organizations like SEGA, ABC News, The Economist, and the National Science Foundation.
Gene co-founded the West Seattle Tool Library which has helped provide affordable access to thousands of people in the community. After seeing how much stuff people had in closets, garages and storage (while others had too little) and knowing that businesses, universities and governments had even more assets sitting idle, Gene founded myTurn.
MyTurn’s customers include businesses, communities, universities, and public sector organizations, and it is a for-profit public benefit corporation.
MyTurn’s platform has a wide range of features, from admin dashboards to online marketplaces, helping organizations of all shapes and sizes to identify and rent underutilized tools, equipment and other resources – either within the organisation, or by collaborating with others.
MyTurn’s customers are seeing big benefits from this circular solution, often increasing product reuse by 10 to 100 times compared to traditional ownership.

Circular Economy Podcast Episode 88 Alexandra Rico-Lloyd - the Bike Club

88 Alexandra Rico-Lloyd – the Bike Club

Alexandra Rico-Lloyd is one of the UK’s circular economy entrepreneurs, and is passionate about inspiring the next generation to get active and outdoors.
Alexandra says there are over 12.5 million unused kids bikes, just in the UK. That spurred her on to create Bike Club back in 2016, to provide a better way to cycle; better for the environment, better for parents and their children.
Bike Club has revolutionised the traditional model of ownership, aiming to change family cycling forever. It’s had over $40million of funding and reached 40,000 cyclists so far, and Bike Club says that makes it the largest micro mobility network in the UK – larger than Uber and Santander Cycles (what we used to call Boris Bikes).
Alexandra, who was recently listed in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, shares the story of how the Bike Club grew from a self-funded ‘minimum viable proposition’, with a few bikes packed into an attic spare room. She explains how it’s delivering deeper levels of value for customers, and how its collaboration with one of the UK’s leading retailers has opened up its next development phase.

Circular economy rebound qualitative vs quantitative

Circular economy rebound – is it always problematic?

Unpacking the tricky topic of ‘circular economy rebound’: when circular solutions end up causing MORE production and consumption, not less. But is it always a problem? I suggest that some forms of circular economy rebound could be a good outcome for people and planet. I bring in research on rebound, and highlight examples of rebound for clothing, mobility, and smartphones.

Circular Economy Podcast Episode 65 Charlotte Morley – thelittleloop – the UK’s first shared wardrobe for kids

Episode 65 Charlotte Morley – thelittleloop – the UK’s first shared wardrobe for kids

The UK’s first shared wardrobe for kids – Charlotte Morley founded thelittleloop to offer a solution to clothing waste with convenience, choice, quality and value. Charlotte grew up being an advocate for sustainability, and found becoming a parent was a watershed moment. But, when it came to dressing her children she couldn’t find a satisfactory solution to the waste that rapidly-growing mini-humans create. Hand-me-downs were haphazard and offered no choice. Buying new then trying peer-to-peer resale was incredibly time consuming and didn’t recover much of the original cost. Charlotte was intrigued by how to incentivise children’s clothing brands to create garments that would last. Shocked by the problems of under-used clothing and frustrated by the lack of convenient solutions, she decided to solve the problem by working with children’s clothing brands to create a rental service, thelittleloop, offering a solution to clothing waste with convenience, choice, quality and value. The little loop works hand in hand with brands, who take a share of the rental revenue, sharing responsibility for the lifespan of the garments, and receiving data to help improve their production standards. Charlotte’s business is already winning awards, including from Marie Claire and Junior magazine, and was featured in the Guardian last month.

Circular Economy Podcast Episode 55 Anthony Burns ACS

Episode 55 Anthony Burns – ACS

We meet Anthony Burns, Chief Operating Officer of ACS in Scotland. ACS started out as a formal-wear hire business, and is now an internationally recognised and award-winning circular fashion enterprise with clothes rental offerings for woman, men, children and babies. It is now working with a wide range of fashion brands, acting as their Circular Service Provider. We find out how the business has evolved, its progress towards B- Corp status, and about some of its innovations in packaging and garment cleaning. We also hear what ACS is doing to be a good neighbour in its local community.

Circular Economy Podcast Episode 44 Tamsin Chislett - Onloan

Episode 44 Tamsin Chislett of Onloan

Catherine Weetman talks to Tamsin Chislett, cofounder of fashion subscription startup Onloan, which has grown strongly this year despite lockdown.
Onloan is a bit different to other UK fashion rental options because it partners directly with top contemporary fashion brands, and it focuses on ‘elevated daywear’ rather than occasion wear. Onloan is also different because it does all its garment care and logistics in-house. Onloan offers its customers a way to enjoy all the newness and variety of fast fashion, but without the waste, and with much better clothes.
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.

Circular Economy Podcast Episode 28 Chris Diplock - The Thingery

Episode 28 (revised) Chris Diplock – The Thingery

Chris Diplock is the Founder and CEO of The Thingery, the parent organization of neighbourhood Thingery branches, and a leader in Vancouver’s collaborative economy. You could describe the Thingery as a ‘library in a box’ – the box being a shipping container! The containers are solar-powered and so can be sited in disused spaces near the communities that will use them. Technology allows people to access the container and then use the built-in systems to easily log what they are borrowing or returning. That means it is less reliant on volunteers, and can be open 24/7 if needed. Chris wants to make it easy for any community, worldwide, to set up their own Library of Things. We hear about the concept, the funding model, and the practicalities.