Circular Economy

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.

 

 

Why Our Subscription Service Matters: The Circular Economy

As it stands, our economy is linear. We take resources, make them into a product, sell that to our customer, who then disposes of it. To do that again, we must start the process again from the beginning. 

Let’s think for a moment what that process means. At scale, in order for that linear “take, make, and dispose” system to be effective, it relies on large quantities of easily accessible resources and energy, and as such is increasingly reaching its physical limits on earth. 

What if we could bend that line process, instead connecting the two end points to make a circle? It’s called a circular economy. Pioneered by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, they provide essential framework foundations for an effective transition from our current linear extractive (take, make, and dispose) economy into a regenerative circular economy. 

Three principles encapsulate this new economy.

  • Preserve and enhance natural capital
  • Optimize resource yields by circulating products
  • Foster system effectiveness by revealing and designing out negative externalities.

 

At Cozey 7, we internalized this circular value system – and we’re implementing it through our subscription box service. 

Instead of purchasing a new garment each time our garments no longer fit, we'll take the garment back (sending a new one back that fits, of course) clean & sanitize without using water (thanks to our friends at Tersus), and send the garment out to another family for use. Treating clothing as a long term asset allows for looping, extending the lifetime through multiple cycles. This is a fundamental change to the way the vast majority of apparel companies treat their products. Look towards "fast fashion" as an example at the opposite end of the spectrum. 

Our subscription service is a manifestation of deploying a solution that embraces circular economic values, delivering customers improved value and service while simultaneously using fewer resources than ever before. 

We hope our vision is compelling for anyone concerned with the current trajectory of the global economy and the limited amount of time we have to make significant changes and augment that path towards a robust environmentally regenerative system for our children.