Circular Economy 101
Written by Teghan Acres
North Americans dump 12 millions tons of textile waste into our landfills each year1. To visualize this volume, that weighs in as 2 million adult Orca whales. Yet, we just keep buying more and more clothing, with the average Canadian purchasing 70 new items annually1.
This doesn’t just apply to adult’s wardrobes. We own, on average, one to two hundred pieces of clothing for our little ones when they actually only wear about twenty-five items or less of that.
These facts are describing our current linear economy. This is a model of producing that follows a ‘make, take, waste’ system where the majority of materials are taken out of our economy after a single use.
Caption: Illustration of linear economy versus a circular economy model, credit: Plan C
The circular economy reinvents this idea of consumption to better serve our planet and ourselves. It follows the lead of natural systems in how to handle waste - don’t create it in the first place! ‘Waste’ does not exist in nature - water, nutrients, and minerals are constantly reused throughout ecosystems. Waste is merely a human design flaw that can be eliminated through rethinking how we extract resources, manufacture products, and treat our possessions.
In the circular economy, waste is designed out to keep products and materials in use indefinitely while regenerating natural systems.
This new system puts the responsibility on producers to provide products and services that keep our planet’s resources in use for longer. It also opens the door for new business models that move away from individual ownership of items that could be shared throughout communities.
Caption: Illustration of different economy models, credit: Government of the Netherlands
This is the idea that Tradle is built on. By offering children’s clothing as a service rather than something to buy and own, we are removing the burdens of high cost, clutter, and disposal from the consumer. Most of our everyday products are built upon planned obsolescence. However, Tradle’s wardrobe stock will be kept in use much longer as the clothes are designed for longevity and durability. Tradle collaborates with brands that provide clothes that are responsibly made, with parents to ensure the clothes are responsibly used and with the planet to ensure the clothes are responsibly circulated/returned.
The transition to a circular economy will involve actors across society - government, industry and consumers. We must make this transition together, to build social, economic and environmental sustainability across our communities.
Caption: Comparison of linear and circular economy models, credit: Oliver Wyman