Recently, many of us have probably heard of the circular economy. For those who are unfamiliar, a circular economy is a term coined to change our current “take-make-waste” extractive industrial model. A circular economy, consequently, focuses on replacing this linear model with a circular one, in which the generation of waste is phased out entirely. The model is simple, highlighting reducing, reusing, and recycling, and aims to reduce 48% of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.
The concept of a circular economy has existed for decades, and with a recent renewed emphasis on practicing sustainability, the methodology has been gaining traction across industries and the public. With our current linear model reaching its limits and environmental pressures reaching critical levels, implementing a circular economy is essential to every industry. By practicing circularity, we have the potential to create a thriving world economy, benefiting the consumers, producers, and planet.
One of the main tenants of circularity is to view waste as a valuable resource, with non-biodegradable materials eventually being phased out. Other principles that define how this model should work include reintroducing used items, finding damaged products a second life, using energy from renewable sources, and focusing on sustainable designs.
But, the main concept of creating a circular economy aims to simply reduce waste. With this in mind, we need to change from the concept of cradle-to-grave and move into a cradle-to-cradle concept. A cradle-to-cradle design includes products that can be used for continuous recovery and reuse, resulting in less waste being produced. The following figure demonstrates the concept of a circular economy, created by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation:
Waste production is at an all-time high, with the average person generating about 1.5 tons of solid waste every year. Because Americans create over 200 million tons of garbage every year, we must put forth effort into reducing these statistics. Although the recent rulings on plastic straws have helped and is a great step forward, there are still vital changes we can make to lead to greater impacts.
Here are some simple ways to reduce the amount of waste you produce:
- Recycle and reuse everyday household plastics
- For example, instead of throwing out glass and metal jars, try reusing them for food preservation or even as vases
- Don’t throw out old clothes or bedding, repurpose them
- For instance, if you have old shirts you are thinking of throwing away, cut them up and use them into washable cleaning rags
- There are many ways to upcycle old clothes, click here for more ideas
- Buy less food and buy in bulk
- When you go grocery shopping, have a list ready to stop you from buying unnecessary items
- Buy in bulk to reduce the amount of plastic packaging used
- Use a reusable water bottle
- Using a reusable water bottle can be a huge step in reducing plastic, you can even use a mason jar
Being in the waste industry, HTS aims to reduce our impact on the planet to the greatest extent possible. Because of this, we commit to providing sustainable waste management solutions and hope to inspire others to follow. To fully eliminate waste and pollution by using renewable energy sources, we need to reconsider how we design things to optimize production methods. Waste is created through all of our activities, yet we can control the threats it poses to ecosystems and human health by proper waste management (which includes recycling and reusing).
For more information on things you can do to help, please visit the Ellen MacArthur Foundation here. This site provides extensive information on the beginnings of the circular economy and ways to implement better practices into your everyday lives.