Jan 2020 | Why is the circular economy important and how do I participate?

Welcome, friends, to 2021, year of the circular economy. (We'll try our very best.)

We have so much to celebrate already! We almost have 3,000 people in our little movement AND much more importantly, environmental legislation in the United States has a brighter future due to Georgia's Senate race results. This is a big deal for the whole world.

Our topic for January is going to be "The Circular Economy." I mentioned in December that we would be focused on waste and plastic β€” that'll still be a significant part of our actions, but I wanted to apply a slightly broader lens as we enter a new year.

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Fight climate change in a way that works for you.

πŸ’Œ Thinking about sustainability can be overwhelming after a busy workday, so we're here to help. Join over 3,000 other busy people and subscribe to Changeletter, a bite-sized action plan that'll take you 3 minutes or less to read every week.
"The info is always timely, actionable, and never stale." - Aishwarya Borkar, Change.org
"Making social change always felt so overwhelming until I started reading this newsletter."Β - Meghan Mehta, Google

Read:Β What economy are we in right now?Β Why circles?

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The take-make-waste progression of resources taken from the ground, making products which are used, and wasting those products when they are no longer needed

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Listen:Β The Story of Stuff

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All you have to do today is watch a short 20-minute movie about the Story of Stuff. This video's been around since 2009, and is still one of the BEST videos I've seen about production and consumption.

You cannot run a linear system on a finite planet indefinitely. β€” Annie Leonard, The Story of Stuff


They alsoΒ have a fact sheet that took me ~30 seconds to read and I've included video highlights below.

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In last week's module, we described the linear economy as a take-make-waste model. The Story of Stuff puts it in different words:

  1. ⛏️ Extraction (aka "take") β€” we're running out of resources. In only the three decades prior to 2010, one-third of the planet’s natural resources base have been consumed. If everyone consumed at US rates, we'd need 3 - 5 planets.

  2. πŸ”© Production (aka "make") β€” we are putting toxins in our workplaces, schools, and homes. In the U.S., industry admits to releasing over 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals a year. (Key word: admits.) The linear economy has serious health repercussions, not just for the earth but for our own bodies.

  3. πŸš› Distribution (kinda a continuation of "make") β€” do you wonder why, even though our products travel across the world faster than they ever have, we're paying lower prices than ever? These products aren't magically cheap. It's just that company owners externalize the costs β€” instead of charging higher prices, they pay via exploiting the earth and human laborers worldwide.

  4. πŸ‘• Consumption (the heart of take-make-waste) β€” The average U.S. person now consumes twice as much as they did 50 years ago. 99% of the stuff we run through our linear system is trashed within six months!

    I highly recommend watching the video to understand how government and corporations worked together to create this system β€” it didn't happen on accident.

  5. πŸ—‘οΈ Disposal (aka "waste") β€” According to the Story of Stuff, for every one garbage can of waste you put out on the curb, 70 garbage cans of waste were made upstream to make the junk in that one garbage can you put out on the curb.Β 


That's it for today. I hope you enjoy the video!

Act |Β Coming 1/20

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Reflect |Β Coming 1/27

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Fight climate change in a way that works for you.

πŸ’Œ Thinking about sustainability can be overwhelming after a busy workday, so we're here to help. Join over 3,000 other busy people and subscribe to Changeletter, a bite-sized action plan that'll take you 3 minutes or less to read every week.
"The info is always timely, actionable, and never stale." - Aishwarya Borkar, Change.org
"Making social change always felt so overwhelming until I started reading this newsletter."Β - Meghan Mehta, Google