True to my word, here is the second installment in the series exploring the meaning behind the seemingly innocuous words The Circular Stage – and the significance thereof to my consultancy and clients, and to the planet as a whole, as it turns out. Don’t believe me? Read on and let me know if you agree with my stance…

What’s in a name (Part 2) of The Circular Stage

Coming up with a unique, relevant and catchy name for one’s start-up can rival, in some ways, the stress of choosing a name for one’s firstborn child. So when settling on The Circular Stage for my new consultancy, I rejoiced when lengthy searches turned up no similar entities with the same name (fingers still crossed), and delighted in the multiple layers of meaning that could be derived from such a moniker… ones that relate so closely to the consultancy’s key focus areas.
In Part 1 of my ‘What’s in a name’ post, I referenced theatre in the round while supporting Shakespeare’s hypothesis that the whole world is indeed a stage, and we are all actors with important roles to play. In this second post about The Circular Stage, we apply different meanings for ‘circular’ and ‘stage, as in this statement: “At this STAGE in the global climate crisis, we need to rethink, restructure and redesign as many of our systems and products as possible to become CIRCULAR”.
Circular in this post and in the context of a sustainable materials economy is good because it’s the opposite of linear (which in this context is bad). One of the reasons our planet is in such a terrible state these days is because the way we extract raw materials from nature, use them to make non-renewable products and then trash them when we don’t want them anymore is what we call a linear economy.
The sketch at the bottom of this post provides a simple explanation of the difference between a linear economy, a recycling economy and a circular economy and their respective impact on the amount of waste produced. The key take-home message here is to keep materials out of the waste stream by ensuring products are designed for ongoing re-use, repair, repurposing or reclamation with few to none of the materials ending up in landfill. Another word for this is closed loop production.
I highly recommend watching The Story of Stuff video, just one of the resources on their cool website https://www.storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-stuff/. The video goes into a lot more detail behind why our insatiable appetite for new things is depleting the planet’s finite resources at an alarming rate and producing more waste and pollution and suffering than humanity and nature can survive in the long term.
For those wanting to take a deeper dive into the topic of the circular economy, you can’t do better than to spend some time with the acclaimed Ellen MacArthur Foundation https://ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/. I was fortunate enough to attend one of the Foundation’s courses, Inside the Circular Economy, and to immerse myself in their impressive library of resources. Their Circular Design Guide, for example, includes a Circular Opportunities worksheet that guides us through the process of identifying potential opportunities for making products, services and other offerings more circular and thus more sustainable.
The questions run as follows:
  • Can your product become a service in some way?
  • Can you make it easier for your users to repair your product themselves?
  • Can you design your product to be more modular so individual components can be upgraded or replaced easier?
  • Can you provide a maintenance service to sustain the life of the product?
  • Can you work directly with your manufacturer to restore your products after their first use cycle?
  • Can you utilise waste or recycled materials for your product?
  • Can any of your materials be sourced more locally?
  • Can your production be more localised?
  • Can you minimise the waste stream your product produces?
  • Can your product contribute to the biocycle in some way?
This circular stage is both an exciting and a daunting time for companies, I realise – which is why I chose to launch a consultancy to help guide organisations through the complex thought processes involved in, well, evolving in this manner. There’s so much potential for improving the way companies use natural resources and production inputs and for ensuring that nothing goes to waste, which in turn helps prevent degradation of the environment, biodiversity loss, unequal distribution of wealth etc. Adopting a circular way of thinking and producing also contributes to better-designed, more efficient and profitable businesses, so feel free to make contact if you are interested in exploring this concept further.