What Goes Round Stays Around: Spreading the Rings of the Circular Economy
Good things are round. Apples, rings, hula-hoops and the circular economy. The principles are simple, instead of something — let’s say a shirt — being made, used and then thrown away unceremoniously, circular economy says: things don’t need to flatline — they can be re-used, recovered, refurbished, recycled and gain a new life — over and over again. Resurrection. We have the power to give mundane things a new life and a new meaning.
In our disposable society, where it is said that in the United States, on average a new garment is worn only seven times before it is discarded, these principles are particularly relevant. How worn can something really be after seven sessions of use? It’s not just about “recycling” or “repurposing”: turning the shirt into a dish rag or a cheese cloth, or a shirt to use when gardening, it is about re-instilling that things, even simple things like a shirt, have value.
Like so many others, I have been following the Marie Kondo phenomenon, and spent a few sessions saying thanks and goodbye to items that don’t spark joy. I love that. I love the acknowledgement and the respectful parting. But, can’t we begin that process earlier, like when we are about to make a purchase. Can’t we say — “you spark joy and I commit to keep you in my life for more than seven wears, and when we are done, I will find you a new home where you will be loved.”
If we bring the principles of the circular economy to our consciousness before we click the Add to Cart button, and let the product’s life cycle flash before us, perhaps we will buy things we love more, things that we will use more, and make new efforts to find ways for that item to stay amongst us for longer. If we reinforce the circular rings of the lifecycle of mundane things with respect and reverence, it is my belief that we will find more value in our own life, because what goes around, comes around. Or in this case, what goes round stays around.