“Users can choose to buy brands that have transparent, sustainable supply chains; investors can choose companies with ethical manufacturing processes or innovative waste-recycling schemes; business- owners can create a market for better materials by choosing sustainable suppliers; NGOs can support local initiatives to decentralize production and teach repair skills; funding bodies can create initiatives to develop new materials, new manufacturing processes, and new distribution models; policy-makers can channel funding toward the development of a circular economy.”
Everything from smartphones to housing can be built without waste
By Chris Forman and Claire Asher, Fast Company, April 5th, 2021
To create a truly circular economy, we need to take a page from the natural world.
The rings of a tree tell a story.
A story about the life of the tree, and the environment in which it grew.
But what is humanity’s story?
Will it be a blackened layer of fossilized smartphones in the footnotes of geology?
Or will it be a story like the Daintree rainforest in Australia—one of the oldest surviving forest ecosystems in the world whose current inhabitants boast a direct lineage thought to be over 100 million years old?
To envision a 100-million-year-long story for humanity, we must imagine a world where every generation returns the materials they use to the soil, air, and oceans in a way that enables future generations to use that material too.
A world without waste or pollution.
The transition to such a system—called a circular economy—depends greatly on science.
Our current way of living is destined to change fundamentally in the next few decades.Exactly how that happens is a decision that will be made collectively by all of us.
The materials we use to create our new world will depend on the technology at our disposal, which will be determined by the science we perform today and the politicians we allow to govern us.
Balancing the long-term prospects of other people’s great-grandchildren against our own short-term interests is not a trade-off that many people give much thought to.
But natural systems suggest there is a way to provide technological luxury to us all, at the same time as guaranteeing a positive future for everyone’s children.