What exactly does “circular” mean?

Photo by and machines on Unsplash

We’re all familiar with shapes and the round shape called the “circle” is arguably a fan favourite.

The definition of a “circle” is as follows:

A circle is a round shaped figure that has no corners or edges. In geometry, a circle can be defined as a closed, two-dimensional curved shape.

The operative word in this definition is “closed”, in other words, a circle is constant. So, you can probably infer that designing for circularity involves designing products or services that operate on an infinite cycle.

The problem is that most of the world’s products and services that exist today, do not operate on a circular model, but rather they operate on models that are linear. The problem with “linear” models, is that instead of operating on an infinite cycle, it runs on a single dimension, that eventually has an end.

In the case of physical products, this end point, is the landfill.

Photo by Bakhrom Tursunov on Unsplash

With the vast amounts of products being introduced into the world daily at an unimaginable rate, you can likely envision how quickly these landfills are filled, ultimately contributing to the climate crisis we find before us today.

The concept of “circularity” may be new to us as citizens and consumers, but it’s an idea that the natural world has always understood. Remember the movie the lion king? And the catchy song titled “Circle of Life”? Those weren’t just lyrics written for the artists’ latest love affair. They were lyrics grounded on science that tell the story of circularity that exists and thrives across the natural world.

Circularity is Nature’s way of taking and giving back life to earth.

How might we as citizens and consumers adopt products that are regenerative by design? Products that are designed to operate infinitely, without ever having to meet their elephant graveyard, otherwise known as the landfill. In our next post, I’ll explore what exactly a “circular economy” looks like, and how it’s designed to benefit society and our planet.

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