Exponential Change

 

Say there's a piece of algae that doubles in size every day. Let's say in 30 days that algae grows to cover the entire surface of a pond. Which day of the month was half of the pond covered by algae? 

If today were day 30, half the pond was covered just yesterday, on day 29. Why? Exponential growth. Some of the most basic organisms on earth live by this. Given, infinite resources and left to their own devices, they'll ramp up. 

NASA published some jaw dropping data recently. It shows that February 2016 was the hottest month on record, beating January 2016 (the previous record holder) by an equally alarming margin. What's worrisome is that most models follow these same exponential curves as the algae in pond. Massive change comes seemingly overnight. Our earth is a biological system and will behave as such. 

Last year alone, we gorged ourselves on the equivalent of 1.5x worth of earth's biocapacity. Assuming the current trajectory, by 2050 we'll be consuming 3x worth of earth's capacity annually.   

The really good news is we absolutely have the capacity to fix this by taking a systems based approach to designing sustainable, regenerative solutions to this environmental emergency. 

Subscription box services, like the one here at Cozey 7 exemplify one such solution. The diagram below explains it as "Netlfix of Clothing" which is rather accurate. 

Children's clothing represents a disproportionate amount of waste contributed to our landfills annually because of children's growth rates. Having the ability to more effectively loop these garments and increase their total lifecycle will have profound effects. By looping one of our garments through the system just one additional time will reduce the environmental impact by 50%. Having three successful loops reduces the impact of that one garment by 75%.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimated the value of an "advanced" circular economy scenario – the basis for our business model. Their detailed product-level modelling showed that for fast-moving consumer goods (e.g. food & beverages, clothing and packaging), the economic opportunity was estimated at more than USD $700 billion annually on a global scale, or materials savings of roughly 20% by 2020.  

Simple systems based approaches to the way we use our resources can make a profound impact on the world we live in. Better understanding the way exponential growth works offers a compelling argument to make seemingly minor, better decisions profoundly powerful.