Anne Raudaskoski – we are all shapers of the future
Author: Anne Raudaskoski, Ethica’s circular economy strategist & co-founder, member of Syklo Oy’s board of directors.
Imagine a future where goods “flow” from one user to another, waste has become a raw material that is utilised endlessly, greenhouse gas emissions are minimal, and people, nature, and other living beings flourish. A future in which we use only the resources that our one and only planet can provide us instead of wasting the four planetfuls of resources we do today. This is not a mere utopia, but a completely possible future through various circular economy solutions.
People have certainly always lived through exciting times, but the current times are particularly interesting because Finland is transforming from a linear economy to a circular economy. In many ways, this means that “we can do more with less.” Familiar phrases such as “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and “ashes to diamonds” take on a whole new meaning in a circular economy: In the future, we will need fewer and fewer virgin raw materials, for example, because companies have learned to keep materials in circulation as early as from the design table, and consumers have become users and experiencers while the burden of ownership is reduced. Already, according to studies,* more than 60% of 11–42-year-olds say they prefer to buy second-hand clothes instead of new ones. So the transition toward a circular economy is already well under way.
Each of us can make many easy circular economy choices in our everyday lives. Hopefully sorting waste into different recycling bins is already in our DNA, and in addition, the maintenance, repair and renovation of and investment in long-lasting products are the keys to becoming adept circular economy citizens. At least my own manual skills are so modest that I prefer to use the help of service professionals, from shoemakers to tailors and bicycle repairers, simultaneously supporting the local economy.
When I travel to speak at international arenas, the audience’s impression is the same without exception: Finland is a pioneer in the circular economy. That is always nice to hear, but it is and is not true. Finland is a pioneer in many areas: We have national, numerical targets set for a circular economy by 2035 and a huge number of publicly funded innovation and development projects, not to mention regional circular economy roadmaps (in Finnish only) (did you know that Oulu has one too?). Similarly, the number of companies doing business in a way that conforms to the circular economy is growing rapidly. However, the gauges of progress in the circular economy show that in basic recycling, we are below the EU average, use natural resources in way too wasteful a way per person while belching out greenhouse gas emissions into the sky, and the degree of the circular economy of materials, i.e., how much we can replace virgin raw materials with recycled materials, is not very high either. For now.
So there’s a lot to do. Start today, because each of us is a participant in shaping the future.
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