Agustina Bluthgen  /   08/01/2021

What is a circular economy? Sustainability beyond Reduce-Reuse-Recycle

Waste management has become a trending topic during the last few years. Most countries are updating regulations promoting more sustainable models. We as citizens are also becoming more aware of climate change and trying to help from our side. Sometimes, new information, the news, and opinions overwhelm us. Here is where the circular economy comes in to bring us a solution. Even the basics will help us fight climate change and contribute to a healthier economy.

Entending the life cycle of your favorite products

The main purpose of a circular economy is to extend the life cycle of products. It’s a model of production and consumption. Remember the 3 Rs? A circular economy goes way beyond. It includes sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling existing products and materials.

A circular economy aims to close the gap between the natural ecosystem’s cycles and human production, on which we depend. It opposes linear economy, where raw natural resources are taken, transformed into products, and then thrown as garbage. The latter now sounds a little old-fashioned. As we are becoming familiar with a circular economy, even without knowing exactly what it means, we find almost unbearable the idea of take-make-consume-waste.

There are some basic principles to keep in mind. First, we have to all agree that energy and resources are gold. If we don’t value them now, we will in the future when they are scarce. Additionally, we have to follow nature’s cycles and designs. The biological cycles are economic models of biologically-based materials. These are designed to feed back into the system. Have you tried composting? If the answer is yes, you are helping to regenerate living systems. These provide renewable resources for the economy. 

However, technical cycles deal with products, components and materials that are not biologically based. These are not able to be brought back to nature and have to be reused or recycled. At last, renewable energy is the basis of a circular economy. With it, we decrease resource dependency and increase our systems’ resilience.

How you can help

If you don’t know yet how to help a circular economy, here are some practices you can follow:

  1. Consider waste and reduce it as much as possible. When going shopping, take your bag! Avoid using straws with your liquids, walk to work instead of taking the car. There are a lot of good practices!
  2. Give products from non-biologically-based materials a second use. You can create further value after its original function. Think about plastic products, like bags, containers, bottles, and so many others. We buy them as packaging, but we can give them a lot of other uses after that. Let’s use our creativity!
  3. Always separate your waste! Check your local regulation on how to make this happen in accordance with local rules.
  4. Try composting biodegradable waste.
  5. Cut out the use of chemical substances. Check the chemicals within the products you buy. We have to be more conscious about our consumption.
  6. Use renewable energy sources when possible.

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