Circular Economy, designing for abundance

Going beyond sustainability, designing with an intention that has a vision for abundance and the principles to get there.


Candice Quartermain, Circular Economy Australia - 4th July, 2014


Circular Economy Article



This week we returned to the inspiring and visionary work of William McDonough and Michael Braungart. Their books, Cradle to Cradle and The Upcycle demonstrate the need to go beyond sustainability and aspire for a world which is designed for abundance.

A big idea, yes and naturally your first instinct is to jump to the challenges and issues, sure. What if we focused on the possibility and instead asked how?


You want an abundant lifestyle

Today life is abundant with love, sharing, knowledge and access. In today’s world, many are living longer and healthier lifestyles than ever before.

However instinctively when discussing the future, the conversation quickly turns negative. Challenges, risks and issues become the focus.

Often design is reactive to problems requiring immediate solutions, resulting in creation which is constrained by the present.

What if we were to design with an intention that had a vision for the future. What if that intention was as William McDonough and Michael Braungart identified:

“To design for all the children of all the species for all the time”

What could our future be like then, what would we design today and how could our intention benefit the health of ourselves, those we love and the environment we call home?



Let fear become your courage

Fear is something that we as a species have to accept is part of our DNA. It is what allows us to instinctively know what feels right and wrong.

Nelson Mandela describes fear as something that is not overcome but instead accepted, using it to build courage which can bring triumph.

Our world today is full of challenges and things are continually changing, sometimes very quickly. Moore's law sees our technical capabilities doubling every 2 years.

Everyone of us feels fear daily, many using it to create excuses to hold us back and keep us in our comfort zones.


Get passionate

Your career is something you should be passionate about. It should provide you with a purpose and creative expression which facilities your ability to contribute positively. It should be something you deeply value and care a lot about.

What if you were to stand up today and express a need to change something you cared about in your job? What if someone agreed with you or even suggested a way to achieve it? What if someone else offered to help make it happen?


Embrace the good

Today the world is full of initiatives where real change is being created from the ground up. Good, Pozible and even the Awesome foundation are great references for good ideas being backed and supported by others. 

Pymble Ladies College worked with Circular Economy Australia to find ways of reducing waste at school. Together they designed a water bottle program where new students received refillable stainless steel water bottles which they could design themselves.

Derek Sivers said that if you care, start something or get the courage to follow something you believe in. Maybe that first step is a TED talk?


Have a vision, design with an intention and deliver to principles

Rodin Genoff and associates believe that having a vision is the key to creating a future that works. Once you have a vision, a big idea or a dream, then you can begin the journey of identifying the activities to get there.

The key to these activities is maintaining an intention which provides the core benefits we as humans need. Clean air, soil and water.

As Dr Guy McPherson say’s “try holding your breathe while you count your money”.

The principles then become the key indicators from which you can assess the relevance of your strategy and identify if they are meeting your vision and intention.

These principles remind you of your objectives and keep you focused when you dive into the detail and metrics of any project.

This is where the circular economy becomes the leading guide to achieving goals.

What if our vision for the future was a world where our products, organisations, cities and governments provided 100% safe and healthy products and services with systems that offered added benefits just cause they could? What if our intention was to design for all the children of all the species for all the time?

Could we create a circular economy future where nothing is wasted, resources only regenerate into systems for continual reuse, where our products and services go beyond function or purpose, adding benefits like clean air, water or food? Where everything is powered using renewable energy?

Companies like Desso, Herman miller, NASA and Method are all adopting this approach and are seeing great successes as they transition gradually towards this great vision. 

Our future can be abundant, just like nature is. We have the knowledge, resources and capability to transform our world into this vision and now the exciting journey of a circular economy is quickly gaining momentum.

Join us in our pursuit for a future where our world is designed for abundance, where we go beyond sustainability, beyond zero emissions and instead aspire for brilliance that benefits us all. 

All you have to do is ask how, turn the fear into courage, get passionate and find some good. Let your vision lead your intention and your intention drive your circular economy transition. One step at a time and progress will continue to be made. 

Join the network of pioneers coming together on the circular economy. Learn, share and contribute in the conversation.

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