It’s one of those terms you hear more and more these days: the circular economy. But what exactly is it? How does it relate to daily life, and why is it important for kids to know about it, too? Here’s all you as a parent should know about this new movement.
The circular economy in its basic form is a very simple concept. Its execution can be more complicated, however, because it often requires some extra awareness and conscious effort.
It all comes down to the idea that we should try to keep products inside this circle as much as possible:
Put in even simpler terms, in a circular economy, people Create –> Use –> Return instead of the more linear Create –> Use –> Waste. Of course there will always be some waste involved in the consumption of products, but the circular economy tries to keep this to an absolute minimum, by recycling, repairing and reusing items as much as possible.
Let’s make it more concrete and use an example. Say you have a product, like a baby monitor. The product has been produced by the manufacturer and you bought it in a store. You use the product until your baby has grown up enough so you don’t need it anymore. If the product is still functioning fine (which it probably is), in a circular economy you would then pass it on to someone else who has just had a baby. They would use it, pass it on, and so on, until at some point it breaks down.
When that happens, instead of throwing it out, the product is returned to the manufacturer, who either repairs it, or, if it is beyond repair, takes it apart and uses all the bits that still work to produce a new monitor. The other parts are recycled for their raw materials, or, if there is no alternative, disposed of. This way, the vast majority of all the bits that made up the original product stay in the circle of Create –> Use –> Return.
Now of course this concept is important for every single person on this planet. After all, we want to preserve our beautiful earth as long as possible, and not waste valuable resources or pollute its nature. However, as a parent, it is even more vital.
Why? Research has suggested that the number one best thing to do for the environment is having less children. And while that is very radical, the point is clear: every new child is another consumer, waster and polluter for the earth. Of course that doesn’t mean we should give up on having children altogether!
What it does mean, however, is that how we bring up the children we put on this planet is of great importance. For the planet, but also for themselves. After all, if we collectively raise our children to become conscious, responsible citizens, the world will look a lot brighter by the time they are older.
So what can you do, as a parent? First of all, tell and teach your kids about the circular economy. You don’t have to use that term, of course. Teaching them basic values and simple things about about consumption, waste, recycling and energy will train them to become more conscious about the world around them.
If you do want to introduce the concept of a circular economy to your little ones, there are lots of kid-friendly resources available online. Take a look at this video (created by and for secondary school children) for example:
Or this one, which uses the simple concept of a chair:
We’d like to help, too. That is why, over the coming weeks, we will be publishing a series of blogs on how to become more sustainable as a family, and adopt habits that are in line with the circular economy. We’ve compiled lots of practical tips, useful information and fun inspiration to tackle the transition step by step. Because a concept is nothing but a theory if you can’t put it into practice!
Becoming a Greener Household: coming soon on our blog.