The circular economy is an essential tool in mitigating the negative impacts of the climate and ecological crisis. We in the Global North need to do more than anyone, given that we created the problem in the first place. By taking on board the principles of a circular economy, engage in conversation with those around us, lobby people in power and take circular actions in our businesses and homes. This will mean we can move away from our current linear economy as well as reducing carbon emissions which will improve prosperity, enhance the reputation of business, and create healthier lifestyles to the benefit of ourselves and our planet.
Social benefits from circular approaches, including regeneration of local resources, creating jobs for disadvantaged or excluded groups, social enterprises, and so on.
ApparelXchange is a Scottish social enterprise aiming to make it easy to reuse school uniforms, instead of wasting them. ApparelXchange works with schools across Glasgow (age groups 7-18) to gather uniforms, and process them so they can be reused. There is an online shop, a store in Glasgow plus pop-up shops in schools. We discuss how to make reuse and pre-loved clothing cool, how to persuade people to opt-out of fast fashion, and some of the subscription models popping up for clothing.
Episode 10 is our first circular economy highlights compilation! Perfect listening to spark your ideas for building a better business in 2020. This would be a GREAT episode to share with someone new to the podcast, or new to the circular economy.
We explore the food circular economy, with Lucy Antal of food campaigning charity Feedback Global. Lucy explains Feedback’s aim to regenerate nature by transforming our food system. Feedback promotes a circular economy approach to food surplus – using it to feed people, animals and the soil. We talk about farm gate waste, overproduction and ‘gleaning’, supermarket labelling and Feedback’s work with community groups and children. We discuss the importance of food citizenship and connecting food, people and our environment. We chat about some of Lucy’s projects, including a new social enterprise, Alchemic Kitchen, and Regional Food Networks.
Elaine Kerr, Deputy Director of International Synergies Northern Ireland talks about industrial symbiosis and how it ‘oils the wheels’ of the circular economy. Elaine explains what industrial symbiosis is, and how International Synergies provides research and facilitation for ‘resource matching’, helping organisations of all types and sizes. We discuss the multiple benefits of industrial symbiosis: reducing waste and pollution (and associated costs); creating valuable new by-products, jobs, and social value; together with securing access to future resources by setting up local ‘ecosystems’ for materials. Creating new, local feedstocks from redundant resources can also bring widespread benefits for the local economy, helping improve economic prosperity and resilience. We talk about changing attitudes and the ways young entrepreneurs and social enterprises are creating value from what we used to think of as ‘waste’.
Adam Fairweather and his partner Rosalie McMillan run Smile Plastics, a circular economy business that reimagines local waste streams to make beautiful materials for the built environment. We talk about Adam’s approach to design, and his ethos that ‘material language’ can communicate messages to people through design, creating socially, emotionally and industrially durable products. We explore some of the wide range of projects Adam has been involved in over the last couple of decades. Adam tells us about his plans for decentralised manufacturing, forming an industrial ecosystem to reimagine waste.