Our current linear consumption model otherwise known as the make–take–use–dispose scheme is without a doubt leading us to a global catastrophe. A circular economy, which is often called one of the best possible solutions to our problems, consists of 5 consumerism-altering concepts – Reducing, Reusing, Refurbishing, Repairing and Recycling.
Reduce. We, as a society, have limited resources. What is more, we also have pretty few needs to survive. So, why are we increasing our consumption if neither we as the consumers nor the Earth as a source benefits from that? That’s why our choice should be clear – we must reduce our consumption. This can be achieved by sharing and renting. Instead of buying new goods the possibility to rent or borrow an item should always be considered.
Reuse. A circular economy is based on designing items that have multiple ways of use by either changing their primary purpose or not. For example, your previously pickle jar can be used again either as a jar to store and conserve food or it could end up as a vase, a candle holder or anything else that your creative self can think of.
Repair. Items created while following the principles of circular economy are created from materials that can be easily repaired. It not only includes choosing high-quality materials but also designing the product in an easy-to-be-repaired way.
Refurbish. It might be a little bit tricky to sense the difference between refurbishing and repairing. Refurbishing includes fixing the original item by changing its old parts with new ones. One of the best examples of easy refurbishment is the German shoe brand Birkenstock. These sandals are designed so that all of their details can be easily disassembled by a shoemaker. It means that if needed, all of the components that this shoe consists of can be changed. In that way, the original product continues to exist and by changing its parts its lifespan of it can be easily prolonged.
Recycle. The last R of circular economy is recycling. Only when certain items or materials can not be used again due to them being worn out, the recycling of the old material can happen. Because of the recycling process, used materials that would be considered waste can be transformed into new ones.
How can you start following the rules of the five Rs? Without asking yourself if you really need a new item you should also do research about the design and the materials used to make the product. If it can go through the principle of the five R‘s, the item can be considered circular.
ReGeneration 2030’s Circulents project focuses on educating youth in the Nordic and Baltic Sea region on circular economy. If you want to join this working group, fill out the volunteer form.