The Case for Circularity

Posted by samantha jones on

This year, we've been talking a lot about circularity and the circular economy. 

But what is a circular economy anyway? What are the benefits of circularity? And what can we do to do our part?

We thought we'd take some time and go through these questions to explore why we are on a mission to normalise the circular economy. 

Let's start by defining circularity.  Circularity is the idea of reusing and repurposing items and resources so that they aren't completely discarded. This creates a loop where nothing has to be wasted.

The Circular Economy is a broader economic system that incorporates these principles. It would encourage reuse, sharing, repairing, and recycling for businesses, manufacturers, and individuals!

Compared to a so called 'linear system,' a circular economy would massively eliminate waste and keep resources in use for longer.  This kind of system would focus on regeneration, growth, and restoration, rather than blind consumption. 

If you want to learn more about a circular economy in detail, we highly recommend spending some time looking at these resources from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

What's the point?

So why do we need a circular economy in the first place?

Linear systems are present in just about every industry. And this has lead to cultures of overconsumption, and large amounts of waste and pollution.

A circular economy could benefit all kinds of contexts. From food to electronics, even cities have their own issues and can apply practices to become more circular.

Let's take a look at the fashion industry as an example.

 It's no secret that the fashion industry, particularly fast fashion, has contributed to staggering amounts of textile waste and pollution.

Fast fashion, with its many seasons and quick turnovers,  has contributed to huge amounts of low-quality garments being produced each year. One estimate suggested 100 billion clothing items are made annually!

The problem with this is that an estimated 73% of these end up going to landfill or being incinerated. Plus when these sit in landfills, they release a lot of methane as they decompose.  

And still, we are collectively buying more clothes than ever before.  


Going Circular

The are many ways to implement circularity in our daily lives. The most important thing is mentality because simply having a circular solution is not enough to bring about the changes we need to see in the world. 

We need to first prioritise buying quality products you know you'll use for a long time. The best thing you can do is keep an item in use or as long as possible.

These are the kinds of questions we need to start asking and normalise before we simply resort to throwing an item away.

Repairing or altering your clothes are a great way to keep them in your closet for longer if they're damaged or a clothing swap for items that still have plenty of life left. 

While you can also donate your clothes to op-shops. Estimates point to only about 10-20% of donated clothes being sold at the same location. From there, a lot is exported or thrown away. 

There are also increasingly more take-back and recycling schemes like ours. These programmes can take clothing and other textiles and recycle them into new fibres so they can be used again. All Little Yellow Bird products can be returned for free but we also take back other 100% cotton products, just purchase one of our take back bags next time you're doing a closet clear out. 



The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has a lot of amazing resources and principles for how we can build a circular economy. 

There principles are

1) Designing products that last and don't produce waste or pollution

2) Keeping products in use for longer

3) Regenerating natural systems

We hope this intro has given you an overview of a more circular world. A world where we produce less waste and cherish the items we buy. 

You can learn more from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Click here to learn about circularity in New Zealand.

And let us know what you do to encourage circularity and waste reduction.

Samantha rae Jones

Samantha is the CEO and Founder of Little Yellow Bird and is a sustainable fashion advocate.

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