What is a “circular economy” and how could it make you eco-friendlier?

Category: News

Each year, the fashion industry could fill Sydney Harbour with the amount of textiles it sends to landfill.

Not only is this a huge amount to throw away, but it’s also a massive waste of the natural resources consumed to make the products in the first place.

Traditionally, this is how industry works. We use the Earth’s natural resources to make products that we use for a short time and we then throw them away. It is this linear pattern that the circular economy hopes to break.

It does this using the three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle.

By reducing our consumption, reusing products rather than throwing them away, and recycling products at the end of their current life, we can all help to create a more sustainable future.

Here are some small steps you can take now.

The circular economy at home


Composting is a great way to cut down on the household waste you send to landfill. Food waste like potato peels, apple cores, coffee grounds and eggshells can be turned into compost, alongside some packaging – even plastic packaging – that contains plant-based materials.

With National Allotment Week fast approaching (7 to 13 August), now is a great time to build a compost heap and use it to fertilise your garden or allotment vegetable patch.

If you don’t have green fingers, check with your local council to see if you can dispose of your biodegradable waste in your normal weekly or fortnightly collection.

Reusing containers

The consumer surcharge for plastic bags came into force back in 2015. Since then, bags for life have become ubiquitous, but how many bags for life do you have tucked away?

Try to remember your bag for life each time you go shopping and avoid all single-use plastics.

While plastic milk cartons can be recycled, you might find your local area offers milk deliveries, allowing you to simply wash your pint bottles and leave them outside your door for collection and reuse.

You might be able to find secondary uses for other containers too – refilling empty jars with allotment jam, for example – so always think twice before you throw something out, even if it is going into your recycling bin.

Charity shops and upcycling

You can also avoid throwing things away by repairing and upcycling them. Showing love for an item that is past its best can be a great creative project and give you an enormous sense of achievement.

Equally, visit charity shops or online marketplaces and buy pre-loved items – clothes, furniture, and so on – to help prevent them from being thrown away.

As we’ve seen, the fashion industry is responsible for huge amounts of waste, with 85% of all textiles produced ending up in landfill.

Business Insider reports that the fashion industry produces 10% of all carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water. It also pollutes the oceans.

While the environmental impact of the fast fashion industry is now well understood, change takes time. Altering your buying habits, though, could be a much quicker fix.

The circular economy in your business

Whether you’re a business owner looking to improve your company’s sustainability credentials or you’re an office worker looking to encourage your colleagues to step up, there are plenty of changes businesses can make.

Identify single-use plastics and make changes

If your work environment has a water cooler with stacks of disposable plastic cups, think about encouraging workers to bring their own reusable bottles. As the boss, you might even buy and distribute them to staff yourself.

There could be single-use plastics and unsustainable practices that are harder to see at first glance. These might be in your supply chain, for example, or at head office.

Encouraging a whole-company approach could really help to multiply the positive effects of the changes you make.

Install recycling bins and educate colleagues

A simple way to incorporate the three Rs into your workplace is to install clearly labelled recycling bins.

Encourage your colleagues to recycle their waste, and also look into going paperless. Technology has made it easier than ever to cut down on the things we print, so if a message can be emailed, be sure that it is. And only print out emails or agendas if it is absolutely necessary.

Keep an eye out for other initiatives

If your company is large, consider an online marketplace for people to buy and sell used goods, with notice boards so that people can request specific items.

You might look to improve your company’s eco-friendliness in other ways, like through cycle-to-work or car-sharing schemes, or installing solar panels and electric car charging points.

Get in touch

Sustainability can stretch to your finances too. If you’d like to align your investments with your values on these issues, get in touch now. Please email hello@globeifa.co.uk or call us on 020 8891 0711 to discuss how Globe IFA’s expert financial advisors can help you.