• Isra Qureshi

Circular Economy > Take-Make-Waste Economy

Updated: Nov 10, 2020

Imagine this, you’re walking your dog out in your neighborhood one evening and you are pleasantly greeted with a soft gush of wind that carries the delicate scent of flowers and fresh-cut grass planted by the sidewalk. You look around and see all sorts of trees arching over the walkway, you can hear the birds chirping and soft sounds of children playing in their back yards. You can feel life buzzing around you with all your sense, which fills you with tranquillity and releases the day-long stress of your job or school. What a wonderful feeling it must be to enjoy!

Sadly, the reality seems gloomier than that as many people do not even have the luxury of imagining such a thing where they live. No wonder the United Nations have made Sustainable Cities and Communities to be part of their 17 Goals of Sustainability. As it is a basic human need to be able to feel that sense of calm and peacefulness (#Envision2030: 17 goals). Since coming to America, I have been more aware of my actions regarding my contributions toward the landfills and plastics present in the environment and it is my belief that larger corporations not only have a bigger role to play but also possess the resources needed to improve the current environmental crises. Today, I am focused more on the e-waste particularly as that is the first type of waste-reduction, I can think of which can help the world become environmentally more sustainable.

Back in 2014 is when the gears in my head began turning as I was scrolling through Facebook and saw Phonebloks’ campaign for module technology. The company presents the concept of modular technology which can be replaced or upgraded per needs rather than disposing of the entire phone. You’d only need to replace that one part that is broken or needs an upgrade. I was genuinely intrigued by the three min video and decided to dig a little deeper (Hakkens). The campaign made me realize that every few months, a new phone or a laptop is being launched which entices, rather encourages people to discard the “old” one and “upgrade”. As if somehow we were defined by our abilities to have the latest technologies in our pockets or homes regardless of whether it was serving our purpose or not. Since then, my consumption of “upgrades” has reduced significantly but has not been eliminated entirely due to the software updates that force me to change my devices every few years. I thought to myself that something had to change if we, as a society are meant to change the world.

As I researched about how individuals can contribute towards reaching the #Envision2030 goals, I came across this TEDWomen video by Kate E. Brandt who is a sustainability officer at Google. Her talk centers around the idea of a circular economy which is not only energy efficient but also offers practical steps Giant Tech corps can take towards meeting our collective goals of a better world. She said that the way Google has put the circular model into action is by reusing and recycling their old hardware to make “new” ones (Brandt). To me, that sounds like a great idea in theory but is it something I can practice? I began testing the theory in my day to day by repurposing plastic containers as storage for my make-up and jewellery. I stopped using disposable plastic bottles and replaced them with refillable bottles and am currently working to use what I have so that I can make a better transition to an almost plastic-free life. It is more challenging because of the lack of availability of products that I can use which are produced by eco-conscious companies. This is where I believe the power of individual consumers can be tapped into by supporting a business that is making the efforts of becoming sustainable.

I believe change is inevitable however, it is up to the individual that decides the direction of it. We must become actively involved within our communities to become the change we all so desperately need. Join conversations and activities happening in your neighborhoods, if nothing is going on, then propose it yourself! Each of us must think about what we can do on our own to become the catalyst for improvement.


Sources:

Brandt, Kate E. “A World Without Waste” TEDWomen, TED, 2018, www.ted.com/talks/kate_e_brandt_a_world_without_waste/up-next


#Envision2030: 17 goals to transform the world for persons with disabilities” United Nations, www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/envision2030.html


Hakkens, Dave. “Phonebloks” Phonebloks, phonebloks.com/journey

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