Circular Economy Front & Center During Pandemic | Reduce

Washington (GGM) Analysis | March 24, 2020
NWHillReport-Pic by Noreen Wise

It’s inspiring to realize how well the circular economy principles of reduce-reuse-recycle-upcycle line up with what we’ll need to do to pull ourselves through the covid-19 pandemic. Do I dare predict that five years from now we’ll pinpoint the economic shutdown of 2020, and staying at home to save lives during the coronavirus, as the turning point that enabled us to reach our climate action goal of lowering atmospheric carbon levels and saving humanity. Let’s do everything we can to make this happen. We have three months to nail this.

REDUCE

With empty store shelves and no end in sight, considering how many parts are made in China with their factories all shut down, we’ll just have to get by with less. Not that anyone feels comfortable spending any money. But still, the reality is that the supply of products has significantly diminished and there are very few alternatives, so the only solution is to go without.

In a week’s time, I was able to reduce my stress by figuring out all the things I could eliminate from my daily and monthly routines, saving myself hundreds of dollars. Stress weakens our immune system. We all need to stay strong and healthy so let’s share ideas.

REUSE

There are many examples of just what a savior reusing has become, particularly in dealing with urgent medical supplies such as face masks and swabs, but these medical heroes need a shout out for their ingenuity. Crafting face masks from office supplies didn’t make it on the evening, but hundreds of patients and medical professionals in that hospital are surely singing their praises.

Incredibly, this innovative reusing of office supplies surely kept many from becoming infected and likely saved lives. Let’s keep our eyes wide open in the upcoming weeks and months to find ways to more of this at every opportunity. Resourcefulness will keep us optimistic when the challenges seem too daunting to overcome.

Clothing is another excellent example. Second hand clothing stores specializing in designer labels, some of which have never been worn, have become a passion.

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RECYClE

Let’s rethink recycling while we’re stuck at home and have more time to focus on it. Currently, there’s way too many things wrong to let it go unaddressed.

  • With only 9% of plastic actually being recycled, plastic waste must be tackled. Now’s our chance. Refuse to purchase products packaged in plastic, especially condiments. When I did this with ketchup last fall, and had to hunt down a replacement for Heinz, my life changed forever. I found that I could actually succeed at it. I had to switch to BBQ sauce for a few weeks when I couldn’t find a real alternative. But now, I absolutely love my fav organic Red Duck ketchup packaged in glass.
  • Composting should be at the top of every household’s “To Do” list while we’re all sheltering in place. It’s such an immediate feel good. Creating a bin for all food scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds, lint and yard trimmings, old leaves, etc that can be added to the soil in our yards and nearby forests to enrich the ground with nutrients that enable the soil to store much more carbon. Many towns are establishing compositing drop off and pick up stations at farmers markets. Again, we should be all over this.
  • Shipping packaging needs to be overhauled. Paper labels must be used for paper envelopes and cardboard boxes as well as paper tape on paper shipping containers, and plastic tape on plastic shipping. Further, we can no longer manufacture bubble envelopes that are manilla paper on the outside. There are multiple alternatives, so this is now unconscionable.
  • Innovation. I’m really excited about the prospects of LOOP taking off during the covid-19 crisis month,s and modeling the benefits of shopping through a company that sells name brand products in reusable containers that are dropped off and picked up on a regular schedule. The most stunning aspect of this service is the array of personal care products, including tooth paste. Game changer.

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UPCYCLE

And the cherry on top, is the artistic piece. The upcycling. Creative reuse. Taking old shoes and turning them into flower pots. Glass ketchup bottles, becoming storage containers or vases. So many possibilities. Let’s get creative.Three months to practice.

The coronavirus pandemic is our golden opportunity to lay the groundwork for converting our current linear economic system of take-make-pollute&waste to that of the carbon reducing alternative of reduce-reuse-recycle-upcycle.

We’ve GOT THIS!~

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