The circular economy isn’t just the latest buzz word in the environmental scene. It’s a new way of thinking that can be mutually beneficial to your financial wellbeing and planetary health. Report by Dr Nicole Garofano, Head of Circular Economy Development at Planet Ark.
Planet Ark is Australia’s leading environmental behaviour change organisation. Since 1992 we’ve been helping Australians reduce their impact on the planet through positive environmental actions. Now we’re on a mission to bring the circular economy from theory to action! We want to help Australia transition away from our current linear, take-make-dispose economic model – which has significant impacts on our planet and future – to a model that keeps resources and materials in use for as long as possible and at their highest value.
We recently partnered with Australia’s favourite online community marketplace, Gumtree, to raise awareness of how easy it is for everyday people to participate in the circular economy. The partnership will help us share just how important reuse and repair is in reducing our collective environmental impact, as well as amplify the social, environmental, and financial benefits of circularity.
Gumtree users or ‘Gummies’ actively participate in the circular economy, whether they are aware of it not, and you can too through their online marketplace. Gumtree’s latest research report, Trading in the Circular Economy, found Australians saved 110 million items from landfill in the past year alone through online trading. Despite this impressive number, 87 per cent of us are still holding onto pre-loved or unused items that could be sold through circular trading.
And there’s money to be made in online trading. The report estimates the average Australian household is holding onto approximately $5,300 worth of pre-loved items they could sell. Collectively, the value of trading in the circular economy in Australia could be worth more than $48 billion!
Keeping products in use for longer is imperative to retaining the value of the product in the economy. This can be done by making a commitment to buying pre-loved items where possible rather than always buying new. Pre-loved vehicles are a great example of how a product kept in use for longer can provide much greater long-term value, as maintaining a vehicle provides a higher return on the resources invested in manufacturing it. Additionally, buying a pre-loved vehicle is more often than not significantly cheaper than buying new, offering environmental and financial savings.
Planet Ark’s ‘Reuse Hub’ on the Recycling Near You website – Australia’s one-stop shop for recycling information – provides information on the importance of reuse and repair and lists resources to help Australians get involved in this growing sector.
We really need to rethink our current model of how we use and consume products. The linear approach is no longer working – we have finite natural resources on the planet, despite our increasing extraction and consumption of these resources. If we want our future existence to even closely resemble our current standard of living, we need all Australians to realise the advantages of participating in the circular economy.
The Carousel would like to thank Dr Nicole Garofano, Head of Circular Economy Development at Planet Ark, for her story.