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Henley Beach

South Australia

I create for a better future.

Be Bold.

© LOU DOS. All rights reserved.

6 Astonishing facts you didn’t know about the Circular Economy

You’re into sustainable products, and you want the best for this planet. That’s amazing. Love it.

I hope to inspire you in this blog on one growing contemporary trend - the Circular Economy. Perhaps you already know what it is. Great as well. If not, I’ll give you an explanation. I’m also going to provide you with 6 facts that you probably didn’t know yet, even if you’ve heard about the circular economy.

Why this blog?

Most importantly, choosing a home décor that is circular designed reduces your footprint and helps the future of this planet.

Our current way of dealing with any products is a linear one – where we make, use, and dispose of them. In this linear world, products end up in a landfill.

In the circular economy, however, waste is eradicated. Products are created with an approach that all the materials used in products are made from natural products. They are built with high quality and reused at the end of their life. It uses renewable energy and materials.

We have a long way to go to make this really happen. However, businesses are slowly changing their focus on quality instead of quick sales, according to HBR as consumers are requesting organizations to make more sustainable products.

What is the problem?

If it weren’t for humans, there would be no waste. Any other species use the waste of another one. Things grow, die, and return to the soil. That’s a never-ending natural circular cycle.

We, humans, live almost contradictory to other species. We create and use many non-natural materials, use products until they brake, and then throw them out.

Landfill keeps increasing as we keep making things that can’t be reused, recycled or repurposed. Often, we just don’t even try to, as our society finds it normal to dispose and never look back.

Everything you see or own has been created by a designer, artist, engineer, or someone else. Your computer, your phone, your water bottle. These products used to be created with a linear-thinking hat in mind.

Once the design of a product is complete, and it’s hard to reverse the impacts of those decisions. We can’t undo what’s already in the shop. As Radjou and Prabhu, in their book, Frugal Innovation, argue, “over 70% of a product’s life-cycle costs and environmental footprint is determined during its design phase.”

Now imagine you are a designer eager to create something sustainable, and the company you work for give you the task is to create a new candy. It must be as cheap as possible though.

The first step to create a new candy, is to understand customers. When you interview them, they will tell you they love sweet, sugary candy. You think about the food itself, the packaging, and your stakeholders.

As the packaging needs to be cheap, the only choice you have is plastic. The food needs to be sugary – and what’s more affordable than sugar?

As a designer, you are conflicted – you want the best for the planet, but you can’t create within a timespan or budget out of your hands.

Without the right frameworks, you will struggle to create a sustainable design, as the eco-system has yet to develop to one fully embracing eco-consciousness and putting money making at its first place.

And because many designers are in a similar situation as described above, things won’t change that quickly.

How is it changing?

A circular economy incorporates a world where resources are kept in use for as long as possible. They are then retaken and regenerated at the end of their service life.

Nowadays an increasing amount of eco-conscious designers and artists are thinking through and creating products that fit within circular design within each step of a design process:

  1. Understanding the users and the system

  2. Defining the problem they’re solving and the key intentions

  3. Creating, ideating, and prototyping many versions of the product

  4. Testing it with participants

  5. Releasing it to the broader audience

Throughout these stages, decisions are made about which material to use, how long it should last, the colours, who will be using it, and where it gets bought. All these choices affect how we use things. Do we get it to quickly replace it with something else? Is it valuable enough to keep for a long time?

From my 7+ years of experience in the design industry, products used to be about that first step Understanding the users and their system. There was a particular focus on creating according to what users/customers wanted. This used to be good because it led to what people wanted. 

However, it is terrible if or when the planet is not taken into it. It has been often people vs. the world. Nowadays, sustainability in products is more and more important in all design steps.

Your stake

If you think helping the future of our wonderful planet, not be enough for you to choose circular designed products, I have some other reasons for you.

First, circular designed products have a longer lifespan, meaning that in the long term, you’ll save money.

Secondly, if we buy more eco-conscious products and tell organizations we want this, businesses will respond to this, as they need accepting consumers. Meaning increasingly more circular products will be created, which is a massive win for all of us. Read more about it here.

Thirdly, how about the future of your children and your grandchildren. Do you want them to live on a planet full of waste? I reckon not! Choosing circular products helps to create a better life for them.

In Australia, the most recent National Waste Report (2018) reveals that, of the 54 total megatons of waste produced in 2016/17, 21.7 megatons were sent to landfills. About 40% of all waste materials are disposed to landfills, equating to roughly 880kg per person.

This is a massive waste of valuable materials, but the waste also harms the environment where more toxic waste is being spread.

It’s up to us to create a brighter, greener future.

The facts about the circular economy

Based on scientific sources.

1. We're using about 1.6 earth. 

According to the World Economic Forum,  which is much more than the earth can handle.

If we continue with a linear process, this number will only grow and grow. There will be more waste and less material and energy to use.

2. 80% of consumer good waste is burned and landfilled.

Because of poor design and/or lack of end-of-life collection options, according to Planet Ark.

If that 80% of goods were circular products, we’d have so much more materials and energy left.

3. Currently, our world economy is only 9.1% circular.

Leading to a massive circularity gap, says trvst. The take-make-waste model is still in place for most businesses. Let’s fill the circularity gap.

4. The circular economy directly created jobs that employ 3.9 million people.

Estimated by The European Commission (EC). This means choosing circular won’t only help our planet but also provide many people with an income.

5. 88% of businesses in Australia find the circular economy necessary. 

Says the Circularity in Australian companies 2021 Perceptions report. This includes 34 per cent who identified the concept as extremely important. This is a significant jump from the 21 per cent who thought it extremely important in 2020.

6. Only 27% of these businesses could correctly identify the definition of the circular economy 

When presented with a list of options, according to the Australian Circular Economy Hub.

This leaves a gap between saying and acting on it. Luckily this percentage is increasing year after year.

To sum it up

Choosing circular designed products is not only great for our planet but also for your children, grandchildren, and your wallet. The facts show that we still have a long way to go to be in a world with only circular designed products and that both businesses and consumers need to step up in their choices. It also shows increasing awareness of the circular economy, with more people choosing circular products over linear products.

If you’re interested in more circular-designed products, look at mine on this page. All home décor pieces are upcycled to extend their lifetime.