Freeman Cebu Business

Circular economy

FULL DISCLOSURE - Fidel O. Abalos - The Freeman

A few days ago, we heard that a rural area in Southern Australia was covered with spider webs.  Yes, we are all familiar with spider webs. That should not come as a surprise. These are permanent fixtures in our homes. But when a huge area is covered with a “sea of ??silk” that should be scary. 

It happened in the countryside of Victoria, Australia (which was ravaged by floods early this month). As the spiders were threatened, they sought refuge on the higher ground and made these webs their temporary shelter. Heavy rains did it. Heavy rains that made environmentalists conclude as another consequence of climate change.

Yes, according to credible scientists, climate change does not only refer to rising temperature. Global warming is just one aspect of it. It talks about extreme weather that is caused largely by carbon dioxide emissions out of the production of fossil fuel and the use of it. So that calls for the shift to renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.) is given a vigorous push.

We may say, that’s big time. That this is too expensive to do and we, ordinary mortals, can’t do anything about it. But wait, if we care to go deeper into it, this initiative simply talks about minimizing our wastes. Why? Because climate change is caused primarily by our neglect and indiscriminate disposal of all kinds of wastes.

Undeniably, we all (individually) have wastes. That is why we’ve heard calls for us to recycle, reuse, repurpose, remanufacture, refurbish, share, etc. If you are keen enough, these are all aimed at reducing wastes and minimizing use of resource inputs (like raw materials coming from trees, mineral deposits, marine life, etc.). All part and parcel of what we call circular economy.

Simply put, as opposed to the traditional linear economy which has a “take, make and dispose” model, according to Wikipedia, the circular economy “aims to keep products, equipment and infrastructure in use for longer, thus improving the productivity of these resources.” Then, “waste materials and energy should become input for other processes through waste valorization: either as a component or recovered resource for another industrial process or as regenerative resources for nature (e.g., compost).”

As individuals, where can we contribute? Disposal of used clothes or should we say, preloved or preowned items. Some may just have a few but others, like trendsetters and fashionistas, have a lot.  Unless they opt to dump them in a trash bin and become pollutants, they can always sell them. In doing so, not only that they can recoup a portion of what they’ve spent  in buying them, the buyer will be delighted on the fact that those items were once in the hands of a trendsetter, a person who knows fashion.   

Obviously, a good number of buyers will go for preowned or preloved items. For one, it could mean buying a branded item and spending just a fraction of the price if it were brand new. Therefore, huge savings that can be used to buy other necessities. Also, it will be a good feeling for the buyer (especially if an environmentalist) to be able to support the green initiatives by avoiding further drain of our natural resources (for raw materials) in manufacturing new products. Not to mention, the consequential pollution during production. 

However, if you feel too little about buying preloved or preowned items, consider these facts.  Back in 2015, credible researchers “estimated that the wider circular economy was a US$4.5 trillion opportunity (this includes the many services as well as goods sold between people).” In November, last year, it was estimated that fashion alone was a US$5 trillion circular economy opportunity. 

That is why there are several platforms that are into these initiatives now. In Asia, Shopee and Carousell are on it. However, a unicorn does exist in Vinted. Established in Vilnius, Lithuania, in 2008, Vinted has operations across 13 markets — France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Luxembourg, UK and the U.S. Unlike Shopee, however, it is exclusively a preloved clothes and home goods marketplace. 

True enough, we are now in an era of fast fashion. So, if you are a trendsetter or a shopaholic, your closets must be awash with garments by this time. Your racks must be filled with shoes and bags to the max. So, instead of just letting those rats and termites feast on them or dump them in the landfill, sell them and recover a few pesos for your next buys and help prevent natural disasters.



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