How Getting Organized Supports a Circular Economy

The items we purchase and dispose of have a huge impact on the environment and the economy. The life cycles of our “stuff” is often ignored. When you’re organized, it’s easier to be more mindful of what items you buy, how you take care of them and how you can extend their lifespan.

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What is a circular economy?
 

The traditional economy is linear -- we make, use and dispose.

Alternatively, a circular economy attempts to: “keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them while in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.” - The Waste and Resources Action Programme

This circular model has multiple benefits: it means less waste in landfills, sustainably sourced resources, better quality products for consumers, and companies that are forced to be more responsible with how they create products.

 

Small Steps to Support a Circular Economy:

 

1. Buy Less and Buy Responsibly

When your home is completely organized, you know what items do and do not fit your lifestyle. When you introduce new items into your space, you are more conscious of their quality and durability. When you’re able to be more selective with your purchases, you also have the time to consider their ethical and environmental context.  

Questions to ask yourself before you buy:

  • Where was the item made? Can I get a similar product that is made locally?

  • Is there an package free alternative?

  • What is the lifespan of this product?
     

2. Fix, Reuse and Repurpose

Once a product breaks, what do you do with it? Many of us automatically throw it out, but this is not our only option. Places like the Toronto Tool Library, Makerspace popups and sewing clinics are just a few options that not extend the life of your product and connect you to your community. When you’re organized and have less belongings, it’s much more manageable to take care of them properly and fix them when they break. It’s important to think about the whole lifecycle of what you buy and how it has an impact on the environment and the people who made it.

Questions to ask yourself when something breaks:

  • Can I fix it? 

  • Can someone fix it for me?

  • Can I repurpose the item for another area in my home?
     

3. Recycle and Donate Properly

If you no longer need an item, how can you responsibly remove it from your life? Finding local organizations that will upcycle items (like reBOOT in Toronto) is one option. It can be tricky to know what to donate and where -- that’s why we created a Donation Resource Page to help you get started. It includes a link to Waste Wizard Toronto which is a great resource that explains what can be recycled at home and provides you with a calendar of Community Environment Days for other items that are not accepted during weekly pickup.

It’s also important to remember that donating isn’t always the solution. We’ve worked with many clients that will drop off many of their used goods at their closest donation center without actually knowing what that specific center is in need of. While working with Boomerang Bags, I also see first hand how companies want to donate to dispose of their textile waste quickly instead of looking at ways to reduce waste in their process or reuse their own materials.  

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I disposing of my waste properly?

  • Am I giving to organizations that are actually in need of my donation?

  • Can I partner up with a neighbour to drop off items at local organizations?
     

4. Create Less Waste

Having less clutter means seeing what you have. When you see what you have, you use what you have. And this applies to every area of your home.

As mentioned in a previous blog, Canadian households are responsible for 41% of food waste found in landfills each year! Imagine if you never wasted money again on spoiled food. Being organized also gives you more time so you can plan your weekly meals and groceries. It also gives you the opportunity to buy less products and make simple ones at home like household cleaners (check out this blog for recipes!).

Questions to help you reduce your waste:

  • Can I recycle, reuse, or compost it?

  • How can I organize my kitchen and schedule better so that I have less food waste?

  • How can I buy my products without packaging?

  • What shops allow me to refill containers? (Karma Co-op, Big Carrot and Strictly Bulk are a few that are local places in Toronto)

 

Want to learn more about circular economy? Check out these articles and videos!

Ellen MacAuthor Foundation

Rethinking The Progress: The Circular Economy

The Story of Solutions

Tonia Cordi