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Circular Economy - Rejecting Take, Make and Dispose

In a search for innovative ideas that could help BREAK THROUGH the BARRIERS to every person being empowered to thrive, creating a Circular Economy should be near the top of the list.

One of the organizations that is tilling the fields to ready the world for a Circular Economy is the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Its Mission is to "accelerate the transition to a circular economy" and it "works with business, government and academia to build a framework for an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design."

In December of 2016, the Foundation released a comprehensive report that applies their Circular Economy mission to the soon-to-be largest economy in the world---1.7 Billion people by 2050. Titled Economic Growth In India - Transforming To A Circular Economy, this report is a wonderful source of information to envision the potential impact of a circular economy.

The Foundation describes India's choice as between a "'take, make and dispose'" model of growth and a "restorative, regenerative" model. The key word for us in this description is "regenerative." A truly effective and sustainable model has to be regenerative.

What is a Circular Economy?

As Peter Day, of the BBC NEWS, summarized the development of the Circular Economy model: "The concept has been developing for some time. In particular, the Swiss architect and economist Walter Stahel put forward the concept of a "cradle to cradle" economy in a paper he wrote for the European Union in 1976.

In contrast to the conventional economic system based on taking, making and disposing of things, he described a non-linear economy running in loops, reusing materials, and with big implications for job creation, competitiveness, resource savings and waste creation.

Mr Stahel went on to found the Product-Life Institute in Geneva in 1982, refining the idea of the circular economy and attempting to eliminate the idea of "waste" altogether. There is no waste in nature, goes the argument... waste is food... Other ideas have converged around this concept - a closed-loop system whereby factories send nothing to landfill and reuse their products at the end of their life."

In a similar vein, Janis Birkeland proposed back in 2008 (in her book, Positive Development) that the built environment should achieve "net positive impacts during its life cycle over pre-development conditions." Janis added, "No one suggests that buildings should be structurally unsound, yet we still allow buildings that are ecologically unsound…So called ‘green buildings’ have begun to address the human environment, but not the [effect upon the] ecology.”

She further points out that reducing the social and ecological impact of new construction by some relatively small percentage each year simply puts us further behind. "Green" buildings make up a small portion of the new construction that is coming on-line to serve a population that is expected to grow at an average rate of 82 million people every year. And, this new construction does nothing to address the human and broader ecological damage being done by the existing stock.

Applying the Circular Economy in MycoMesh Design

For MycoMesh, the Circular Economy and similar ideas are alternative business models. The goal is to make human enterprise and human life sustainable--along with "natural resources" and the species that inhabit the planet. We need to find solutions that address the whole resources-to-waste cycle and create net-positive results if we are to enable every person to survive and thrive and live in harmony with the rest of the species with whom we share this planet.

We also believe that real progress is achievable. The circular economy, positive development and other bio-inspired frameworks can show us how we humans can expand the pie for every human being by continuously expanding total ecological wealth. It is no coincidence that the mycelial Superorganism upon which MycoMesh is modeled has already shown us that continuously expanding total ecological wealth is possible. Contrast these bio-inspired strategies with the current one that increases consumption by stealing from one part of our ecological system to give to another. We also believe that these bio-inspired frameworks are powerful and optimistic and, when understood, have an appeal that can cross over ideological barriers.

Should our communities identify and adopt Circular Economy and similar approaches? Share your experiences, questions and ideas as COMMENTS to this Post. Join the conversation. Speak out!

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