Have you stopped and observed nature anytime? If yes, then you must have surely been amazed at its beauty and vibrancy. But, what most of us fail to observe is the cyclicity in nature. Confused? Let me explain. The earth rotates on its own axis and revolves around the sun. This results in day and night, and the seasons, which are also cyclical in nature. It doesn’t just stop there. The forests, the lifecycle of all species, the ecosystems – are all synchronized to follow this cyclicity. And how much waste do these natural ecosystems produce? Zilch! Surprised? You should be! Nature has zero waste. It has its own ways of recycling and reusing, in an endless cycle of effective and efficient utilisation, leading to long-term sustainability.
However, it is unfortunate that we humans are refusing to learn from nature. Our increasing population, with a tendency to consume cheap, has been putting an enormous pressure on our limited resources. And our “buy-use-dispose” attitude has not been helping the situation either. While this linear structure has worked in the past, it cannot be our way forward. Absolutely not.
And this is where the concept of circular economy kicks in.
Circular economy is an economic system, where there is no waste. Can such a system exist? Yes, it can! However, it demands a fundamental redesign of our processes – our entire value chain – with a focus on creative thinking and innovation. The manufacturers are expected to be accountable for the end-disposal of every component in their product. This would mean optimum utilization of available resources and designing/re-designing for long-term use, re-use and recycle. Sometimes, this might require working backwards – How would this product be disposed? – and then connecting the dots of marketing, distribution and production to complete the value chain. Sometimes, this might also mean changing the entire business models. It demands a complete and critical re-look at our policies, trading and advertisements.
But, until there is an acceptance of the urgency to do this, primarily at the leadership level, it would be impossible to expect this seed of thought to percolate into the lower echelons of the business world. This is where the society can make a difference. We need to start going more ‘local’, look at value vis-a-vis the cost, functionality vs glitz, and ultimately, need vs want. And before we make our final decisions as consumers, explore our options. Our options are not limited to just ‘buy’. Maybe, we can borrow or swap or make or thrift. It’s just a matter of going beyond our ‘don’t have-will buy’ mindset.
Circular economy will succeed only when we realise that all of us are its stakeholders and that we play an equally important part in the success or the failure of this proposition. It is not easy to change. But today, our future depends on this change. We might have moments of doubt and failure, but perseverance on this road, is our only way to growth and sustainability.