What is the circular economy?

2021-08-31 02:25:31 • Daisy YipTong-Grenade

The circular economy is an alternative system to the current economic system. What society is doing today is extracting-producing-consuming-throwing away, and this current system is destroying our ecosystem, eventually leading to a disaster for people.
Mauritius is vulnerable to climate change (https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/reducing-climate-change-and-disaster-risk-mauritius) and our landfill, Mare Chicose, is almost full, so we need to take a look at how we can do things differently. 

When we look at nature, things work in cycles. Water evaporates to form clouds, it rains, and water goes back to where it came from. Plants come from the soil, they grow, their leaves fall and provide nutrients to the soil, another plant can grow. The circular economy is a way to make our life imitate what nature has been doing for centuries. 

Current economy:

  • Products are manufactured with little thought to what will happen after its purchase. Focus is on profit: What will sell the most for the least cost? 
  • Products are designed to be replaced quickly (planned obsolescence).
  • The main goal is to make products with high market demand at an effective cost. 

Circular economy: 

  • Products are from the start designed to make them easy to repair/compost/upcycle.
  • Products are kept in use as long as possible, making them cycle back instead of following a straight line to the landfill.
  • Products are made so that they can have a good impact on nature – just like a dead leaf can restore the soil. 

The success of today’s economy is measured by the value of goods and products, in other words how much money is being made. The ecological and social effects of how that money is being made or who is making that money (is it being fairly distributed?) are not part of the equation. 

The aim of the circular economy is to broaden what is measured in the equation of a successful economy to include environmental and social health. 

To transition from a linear to a circular approach, there is a radical shift we all need to make: Towards collaborating, towards demanding better products from manufacturers, towards demanding better policies from our government. We can also exit the current economy where we can and join movements: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/join-in . 

The circular economy is a great way to bounce back from covid’s effect on our economy: it would be a way to create jobs, to put Mauritius back on the map, to make sure that we transition to an economy where everyone can thrive, including our kids. 


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