Taking green initiatives to another level, the circular economy aims to eliminate all waste, through purposeful design and the continual reuse of resources. The circular economy’s ultimate goal is to maximize the use of everything.
While it has broad applications for economists and business owners, the average person can also get involved in the circular economy to go zero waste.
Circular economy concepts take the common saying “reduce, reuse, recycle” much further. Rather than simply recycling plastics or cardboards and being conscious about how much you’re purchasing, the circular economy also emphasizes clever upcycling and attention to natural resources.
Use these following circular principles to get the most out of what you buy and help the environment:
For any green lifestyle, you want to avoid buying anything that is directly harmful to the environment or can’t be recycled. However, in a circular economy, even recycling should be utilized sparingly because it takes a lot of energy and eventually degrades the quality of the material.
Therefore, you would also reduce your consumption of any plastics or materials that can’t be repurposed, composted, or used by someone else.
This introduces the next most important part of a circular economy. Instead of recycling or throwing out something that served its initial use, think of ways for you to repurpose the item. Since recycling does produce lower and lower quality products over time, it’s better to find a new use for the item in your home.
This prolongs the time before the material is wasted. For example, instead of recycling a glass food container, reuse it as a vase or storage container in your home.
This doesn’t mean you can never get rid of anything, however. Even if you don’t have any use for an item of clothing or piece of furniture, it’s important to ensure it can be reused by someone else, rather than being sent to a landfill or destroyed. Consider donating clothing that you no longer wear or household knick-knacks.
On the other side of reusing items is reducing the number of truly new items you buy. Instead of buying a new set of clothes or a brand new sofa, consider purchasing thrift items and taking the time to make them like new, like having clothing tailored to fit you. This has the added benefit of saving you money as well.
One of the last steps before the material is recycled or thrown out is the recovery of energy. Just like being wise with the energy you use in your home, you should consider that every item you own has energy stored in it, from the raw material and manufacturing applied to it.
To ensure our natural resources continue to be restored, we must do our best to return that energy and any nutrients back to the system. In your home, this means instead of throwing out food scraps or recycling old cardboard, you can compost those things so the can eventually be broken down and enrich the soil.
The final step is one you’re familiar with. Once an item has been reused and repurposed as much as it can be, and the energy cannot be recovered at home, then you can recycle it. Take time to brush up on the types of plastics and which can and cannot be recycled. For certain plastics, you may need to take them to a separate facility to be properly recycled.