The circular economy –at home!

Posted on 16 February 2017.

No need to be a start-up boss, inventor or designer to get involved in the movement! Here are some ways we can all apply circular economy principles on a daily basis.

Without needing to turn into Béa Johnson – the mother who is now an emblematic figure in the Zero Waste movement - everyone can reduce their waste by keeping the three Rs in mind: reduce, reuse and recycle.

Reduce, first, the quantity of products likely to be thrown away. The aim here is to limit the use of single-use items (plastic bags, disposable cutlery, coffee capsules, etc.), hunt down waste, especially food waste, and even make your own cleaning products and cosmetics.

Then reuse all or part of any products that have come to the end of their useful life. Worn objects or broken appliances are too easily thrown in the trash – but maybe only one part needs changing. You have a number of options:

- Re-use: many associations, recycling centers, and even individuals, will be delighted to have your old clothes, books, toys, appliances or electronic devices in working order.
- Repair: automatically take your worn shoes to be repaired, your damaged smartphone to a repair café and why not even learn to repair it yourself? A dedicated and active community exists to help you.
- Deposits: they are back in fashion in some countries having spent years out of favor!
- And finally recycle any materials to make new raw materials that will be used to make new products. You can make it easier by carefully sorting your waste (in the kitchen as well as in the bathroom), and you can also recycle your organic waste yourself (green waste from the garden, leftovers, cat litter) by composting it.

Consuming differently

The circular economy not only calls for a change in production patterns, but also for a new way of consuming.

Responsible consumption - purchasing products or services that are more environmentally friendly and made under fair social conditions - is based on several principles: buying only when necessary, getting information and making deliberate choices such as eating only fruit and vegetables that are in season and are produced close to home, eating sustainably fished fish, buying fair trade products and food with little packaging, and wearing organic cotton clothes made in Europe.

Some people go further and opt for alternative distribution channels such as recycling centers and local farm shops. With their cloth bags and glass jars, they get their supplies from shops where goods are sold in bulk, usually buy second-hand furniture and clothing, and buy direct from the producer whenever possible...

Finally, collaborative consumption, which in some ways is like the functional economy (use predominates over ownership), makes it easier for neighbors to share a drill or a washing machine for example.

Are connected objects good friends?

Saving energy or water (or even generating energy or recovering rainwater) at home is also part of a circular way of life. It means adopting sound day to day habits and using some special equipment (photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, eco-generators, etc.).

Some connected objects are useful because they give better control of consumption and optimize heating and lighting. The idea is to adapt to the real needs and habits of users, as well as to any variations in their environment, and provide only what is necessary. You just have to be able to tell the difference between a gadget (likely to make the mountain of electronic waste even higher) and something that will actually help you reduce your electricity or water consumption!