Here at LWM we advocate a more locally focused and sustainable approach to how we structure our society and economy, the ‘Circular Economy’ (read more about it as a theory here)  is one of the many emerging models of economic activity that can help achieve this by replacing the current ‘TAKE, MAKE, DISPOSE’ model of the ‘Linear Economy’ to one where we extract the maximum value from products through long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing, and recycling.

A key aim of the ‘Circular Economy’ is to achieve zero waste! Some of the economic benefits like new employment opportunities can be found here, but there can also be broader benefits such as improved self-esteem and greater local community cohesion. We think changing our economic model is a no brainer, especially when you consider the long term sustainability of our ‘Linear Economy’ model, that is based on depleting earths finite reserves to create disposable products that end up in landfill or incinerated.

We know that instigating the systemic changes our economy needs will take concerted action by national, regional and local government and so can often feel beyond our control, but it will also need us to make changes, and we can make different choices today at an individual level. Just remember these three key principles REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE and try and incorporate small changes into your everyday habits.

Reduce your consumption and waste by being mindful about what and how you consume, so for example: avoid single use plastics and take away coffee cups. Invest in better quality items made to last rather than cheaper disposable fashion and clothing. Think about how you consume: Do you use a national chain supermarket vs local shops/co-ops and markets? You could seek out and eat seasonal food grown locally. Do you make deliberate choices to make purchases of ethically soured products? Reduce your food waste as much as possible (this article has great ideas to achieve this) and save money at the same time. You could even grow some food at home, no garden needed and growing is even proven to support positive mood and wellbeing, bonus! Finally, think about why you buy things, do you buy what you need or what you want and do those ‘things’ really add value to your life?

Could your household items and clothing be better maintained and repaired? For instance why not get your shoes re-heeled, clothes repaired and electrical items refurbished, maybe take them to a ‘Repair Café’ or even better learn to fix it yourself and start a repair cafe!

When replacing products do you need to purchase new or could you buy refurbished, second-hand and upcycled goods, you can also consider renting expensive electrical items like a TV or washing machine. There are a range of alternative ways to shop where you can re-use goods including: flea markets, car boots, vintage, second hand and charity shops. Online on Gumtree, Freecycle or other sites – or find a local swap meet.

Remember re-use and recycling are not the same. When you can’t repair or re-use anymore – then it’s time to recycle.

Those systemic changes are hapening too! In March, the European Commission published a comprehensive report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan, announcing that all 54 actions under the Circular Economy Action Plan launched in 2015 have now been delivered.  

You can read more about it here