Traditionally, circular thinking has been considered a negative thing that represents inefficient analytical skills. However, when applied to the economy, circularity is actually considered a positive thing as it refers to sustainable production and the recycling of old products.
Maximizing circularity has become more important than ever as scientists are beginning to uncover the damaging effect of unsustainable forms of production on our environment.
In this article, we offer a brief overview of two different approaches to the economy, emphasizing how a circular economy is the best approach for the future.
A Brief Overview of a Linear Economy
In recent years, there has been much controversy over the consideration of corporations as people. The idea is that abstract things differ from the concrete, sensuous nature of the human experience.
However, adopting this human approach to the economy can be helpful when analyzing the lifecycle of a product, for after all, anything that stems from the natural world is alive in some sense.
In traditional linear economies, the lifespan of a product is cut short by inefficiency. The underlying components of the product are sought typically from manipulating nature in some way. Then, the product is produced, sold, and used. Finally, when it is no longer desired, it is disposed of.
Occasionally, products are recycled, but usually, this is reserved for the packaging of the product. Even if the product is recycled or re-used by another customer, eventually it wears down, or some less enlightened customer eventually decides it’s time to be thrown out.
Where does it go? Typically to a landfill, where it is either burned, compressed, or left to decay. All of these consequences are undesirable, as the product itself has not actually disappeared. Instead, it has simply changed form.
But this form can be utilized.
A Brief Overview of a Circular Economy
Circular economies, on the other hand, engage in circular design thinking. This entails designing products in a way that they never become obsolete. They might lose their original functionality, but these kinds of products can always be reused in some way for the production of future products.
This kind of circular innovation means considering the type of material used, how this material is manufactured, the form of the product, the intention of the product, and the demographic using the product.
This way of thinking even encompasses the various services that will accompany the purchase of the product to allow for proper recycling. Many companies that engage in this approach to design enact programs that allow them to recover their products, while some companies are simply content with encouraging any kind of recycling.
This way of thinking is relatively novel in the world of business, as many designers have been trained to think solely in terms of what customers will want to buy with little regard for the whole of the planet. These designers do not realize that sustainability can actually translate to increased profits if the proper marketing strategy is employed.
Economic Benefits of Circular Products
Modern customers are beginning to align their morality with their purchasing decisions, so circular products are actually in demand and lead to greater profits and exposure. But, customers are responsible just as much as businesses are.
Circular products are also profitable because they save companies’ costs down the road when they are reused to create new products. This frees up more money for investing in innovation and cutting-edge technologies.
Environmental Benefits of Circular Products
The idea behind circular innovation is to create products in a way that natural resources will rarely have to be tapped. Even if producing circular products requires some expenditure of energy, the idea is to reuse whatever byproducts are created in the future production of products.
One benefit of the circular approach is a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions which stem from inefficient manufacturing processes. These emissions can lead to ocean acidification, degradation of coral reefs, and rising sea levels, which could wreak havoc on our society. By taking a circular approach, we can avoid this fate.
Traditional economies are circular in a sense, but the circularity involves the extermination of humans. Balance is restored to the earth eventually, but it requires the absence of humans or the complete annihilation of our societies.
Our Final Thoughts on Circular Economies
We think this approach to design and manufacturing will change the world. Even though excess is often viewed as a luxury, we think that it is actually an indication of inefficiency and unsustainability. We think there is so much excess in the world today that natural resources should never have to be mined ever again.
We think this approach will also naturally limit the human population, as we think overpopulation is a result of excess and imbalance. Once we put a strict limit on the production of future goods, the planet will naturally return to a state of health and balance that is ideal.