What is The Circular Economy?


What’s made in Bartertown, stays in Bartertown

The circular economy, much like Mad Max‘s Bartertown, represents a model by which waste is not viewed as waste, but rather a source of power or material for something else. It’s essentially a closed loop system. The circular economy currently describes a pretty amazing representation of our desire to strive for zero waste, much like the natural world itself. Rather than the conventional means of manufacturing for a single purpose, with minimal thought to a product’s end of life, “the circular economy is restorative and regenerative by design. Relying on system-wide innovation, it aims to redefine products and services to design waste out, while minimizing negative impacts. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural and social capital.” – Ellen MacArthur FoundationThis means we can use more of what we create, more entirely, and find a better, more constructive use for what is left. Brilliant concept, for whom we have the planet to thank.

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Discoveries from the Sustainability Reporting Conference


The Toronto Sustainability Reporting Symposium

In the fall I attended a conference on sustainability reporting. It was held in Toronto’s swanky financial district (where they film Suits btw), where leaders in sustainability reporting, subject mater experts, corporate sustainability chiefs, and academics, congregated to share insights and developments with regards the current state of sustainability metrics. It was certainly an enlightening, although simultaneously disconcerting, experience.

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Getting Past the Plastic: Exploring Alternatives


A Worldwide Staple

Plastic is a pretty impressive material capable of providing society with all sorts of advantages, and yet it is also responsible for sitting interminably in our landfills, leeching into our soil and water sources, and chocking up our oceans. Its notable properties, that which make it so lightweight and durable, are also what make it so awful to the environment. For starters it is petroleum based for the most part, which means there’s the whole extraction factor to consider, but even beyond that, once it’s processed and manufactured into one of the countless objects we used daily, unfortunately it’s shelf-life outlasts our own.  It was designed to last, and yet it’s being used for single serving “disposable” items such as bottled drinks, product packaging, grocery bags, and children’s toys (to name but a few). Recycling isn’t quite the solution either. While it may lessen the environment impact to a certain extent, the ideal is to dramatically cut back on its use, and thereby avoid the recycling issue altogether.

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A Powerful Perspective

TED Recommendation

Sebastião Salgado: The Silent Drama of Photography

Great talk from an inspirational human being and photographer. Salgado is renown for having the ability to capture sentiment and substance within his images. This talk however goes beyond merely a discussion of photography and rather speaks to purpose, empathy, and inter-connectivity. He shares with us his insights and reflections, having seen so much of the world through is particular lens, and encourages us all to better understand our environment and the part we all play within it.

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Proof that Sustainability Makes Business Sense

TED Recommendation

Ray Anderson: The Business Logic of Sustainability

Ray Anderson has led by example. As founder and chairman on Interface Inc., he grew his company into one of the world’s largest suppliers of modular carpeting through the awareness and application of an increasingly sustainable business strategy (their aim is zero waste). As Mr. Anderson explains, business and industry have played the largest role in harming the environment, yet they also represent the size and scale best suited for providing solutions and amending the harm done to the natural world. It comes down to a matter of understanding.

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The Corporate Paradox

Film Recommendation

The Corporation (2003)

Understanding its Purpose

A powerful documentary about the role of corporations in modern society. Although a few years old already (as reflected in the graphics), the content is nonetheless very relevant and highly potent. It highlights the origins of the modern corporation, it’s stated advantages, and it’s very real disadvantages as displayed by some of the world’s biggest companies. The documentary raises the question (among others), that such misdeeds are not due to the some select bad actors. Indeed, some of these companies are still around, still churning out considerable industry. Rather, the filmmakers posit that it is the very nature of the corporation itself, as it is currently defined, that inclines industry to do bad.

If the corporation’s sole purpose is based upon an obligation to shareholders to maximize profit, does it not naturally follow that people and resources need to be exploited for maximum gain?  Despite being an immortal entity that is increasingly granted greater rights in society, a corporation has none of humanities’ morals and apprehensions – unless otherwise embedded.

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Waste Not, Want Not

Film Recommendation

Trashed (2012)


Jeremy Irons takes us on a journey through our waste, as he investigates it’s impact on our world. This is a moving documentary that will hopefully encourage a greater awareness of our trash and what it does to people and wildlife around the planet. There are indeed deeply saddening examples of those afflicted, as viewers bare witness to a small dose of the tremendous burden being carried by nature and the world’s poor. The documentary is effective in highlighting the glaring deficiency in the current status quo with regards our waste and the immense opportunity for it to be improved.

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Thinking for the Future

Book Recommendation

The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability

by Paul Hawken (1993)

The Ecology of Commerce

This book makes a powerful declaration for the role of business in sustainable development and environmental management and protection. Contrary to common belief, industry and ecology need not be at odds with one another. In fact, industry has the scale and potential expertise for effectively addressing environmental concerns, and as corporations represent the earth’s most prevalent establishments, they have a direct responsibility to do so. The author sets forth a clear series of fundamental problems present within the current system, as well as their corresponding solutions. Hawken admits that the issues are more profound and complex than his breakdown can attest, but he provides a clear and cohesive framework from which to work from and adapt. The book is very well written and easily digestible, and has been a staple to many who have sought to incorporate sustainable change within their organizations. Indeed, I first heard of this book after having watched a TED Talk from Ray Anderson (click to view), founder and chair of Interface, the world’s largest modular carpet manufacturer. Sadly, Mr. Anderson has since passed away from cancer, but during his life he would continually share with audiences how Hawken’s book had shaped both his life and his company. Continuing his excellent work, Hawken has since published other books and given numerous talks around the world as he inspires new generations of entrepreneurs and business leaders.

We encourage our readers to borrow books when they can, but if you choose to purchase a copy click HERE to order via Amazon, and support this blog in the process.