In this blog post I am going to talk about the big picture, various types of economic concepts each having a huge impact on the environment and consumer behavior. We are conditioned to live our lives as part of a specific economic system as it benefits the main actors in that system.
Let’s start with linear economy. This is the standard form of economy across the world today, It is based on the “Take, Make and Dispose” model. Roughly the steps are
1) Resources/Raw materials are extracted.
2) Products are made out of these raw materials.
3) Products are disposed and send to landfills.
4) New products are made.
This type of economy is focused on spending and hence producing more goods is encouraged. Buying new products or stuff you don't need via holiday sales and discounts; constant ad cycles have distorted the supply and demand chain. The beneficiaries of the linear economy are no doubt big corporations whose business model runs on this kind of consumerism.
A Reuse economy is an improvement on the linear economy. Old products are used to make newer products. For example, old paper is reused to make new paper. Although raw materials are still not reused and non-recyclable waste is also produced.
A circular economy is the ideal state for a sustainable society. It is based on “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” model. The amount of raw materials used is reduced, Products are designed to be reusable so when they reach end of life they are recycled. Circular economy is ideal as it reduces usage of raw materials and promotes recycling and reuse.
The circular economy follows the biological cycle set by nature where various organisms are in a symbiotic relationship of life and death. I would like to share a couple of very informative videos from "The Story of Stuff Project" and "Ellen MacArthur Foundation" which capture these concepts quite well.