Re-thinking the future

Dame Ellen MacArthur. Photo by Laura Kidd.

Dame Ellen MacArthur. Photo by Laura Kidd. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The video above comes from one of the most interesting and potentially world-changing sites that I have recently come across, namely, The Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

I came across the site by following a link to the new TedEd site, which is also a site well worth investigating and deserves a blog  post to itself! The specific link is: http://ed.ted.com/on/2Yy019iv

I was fascinated by the story of Dame Ellen MacArthur, the famous round-the-world sailor who gave up her life at sea in order to follow a plan to transform the way we make and use things which is called “The Circular Economy“.

In a nutshell the idea is that we are living in a world where we are wasting our resources and then throwing them away or burying them which will eventually come back to haunt future generations who succeed us. The present solutions of recycling are about extending the period before we run out of resources or totally pollute the planet and make it uninhabitable by our species.

The solution put forward in the circular economy is to follow nature’s pattern of a circle of life.In this model nothing is wasted, plants become food for animals that decay and eventually become part of the nutrients that feed the soil for the next growth of plants.

How then does this relate to the man-made world? Well, we do not have a circle of natural  production, use and re-use, but we could aim to make products that can be re-used again and again. The idea is to change our way of thinking and owning.

Take a washing machine for instance. At the moment this is made from materials that mostly cannot be re-used. The idea is to create a machine that can be re-made. In order to do this the concept of ownership needs to looked at. Instead of owning and then disposing of the fridge, you lease the fridge from the manufacturer and then return the fridge to the manufacturer who can use the materials to make a new machine.

This “circular economy” is certainly one that challenges our ideas about how we live and how we consume. It is already being looked at by a number of large industrial and commercial companies like Nike, Renault and Cisco.

I found a number of very interesting resources on the site that has led me to further investigate this potentially powerful concept. It is the sort of site that can change your way of looking at the world and maybe even your life!

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