This isn’t an ordinary Monday (but why it should be in a circular economy)

Let me share my vision for a circular economy and why we need to make #WhiteMonday just an ordinary day.

The transition to a circular economy depends on our creativity

If Mother Nature designed production and consumption processes, it would not create any waste. The question is: if Mother Nature can create abundance and prosperity without creating waste, why can’t we?

I believe we can. Yet, the transition to a circular economy requires creativity, because it forces us to think what could be instead of what is.

In my vision, we could have a society where there is no concept of waste. Instead of waste, we would have a source of valuable materials. Instead of waste treatment, we would call it material treatment. You get the idea. No waste would exist. This transition, however, from waste to material, from linear to circular, requires new ways of thinking, doing, and organizing. It’s a fundamental, large-scale, and long-term change in cultures, structures, and practices of society.

White Monday aims to spark that creativity

White Monday that takes place on November 25th aims to promote circular production and consumption, just before Black Friday–known for its shopping hysteria and linear consumption–occupies most of the stores.

White Monday (get to know more about the movement here) aims to create awareness around a circular economy and make the actors who are already rethinking and reshuffling our current production and consumption patterns more visible. Those actors are (1) designing out waste and pollution, (2) keeping products and materials longer in use, and (3) regenerating natural systems (source: Ellen McArthur Foundation). They represent the new ways of doing things, instead of the old “take-make-use-dispose”. Here’s how it looks like:

Solving the Rubik’s Cube of circular economy

In my PhD dissertation, I propose that the transition to a circular economy is like solving the Rubik’s Cube. We have all the elements existing already, but we need to cherish our creative problem-solving to get them in a new order. Just like solving the Rubik’s Cube, solving the transition to a circular economy is not easy. But then again: ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship.

Reframing Cube (Lahtinen & Sulankivi, 2019)

Our human brain is wired for puzzle-solving. We like to have puzzles, and we like the dopamine reward we get from solving them even better. So, just like we didn’t give up on solving the Cube as kids but instead, had our eyes on the prize and tried again and again until we succeeded, we can’t give up this time either. The Cube is gigantic, and definitely not easy, but this time solving it concerns the future of the planet and its species.

So I suggest us to keep our eyes on the prize and continue until we have succeeded. Until we have succeeded in turning White Monday just an ordinary day. An ordinary day, where circularity is a natural part of everything we do. Where materials are upcycled because it’s much easier, cheaper and smarter than throwing them away. Where new technologies like blockchain and AI are harnessed to facilitate transparency. Where the economy is restorative and regenerative. Where natural ecosystems are preserved. Where the cultures, structures, and practices of our society are changed.

I believe that if we use our creative capacity for solving this puzzle, we can build a society that creates prosperity, without creating any waste. Just like Mother Nature would.