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Clothes that Grow, 3D Printing from Waste and More: The Circular Economy in Practice

Earth Overshoot Day - the day we use up more resources in a year than the earth can regenerate - fell as early as  August 8th  this year. 
Recent posts

The Circular Economy is Not "Recycling on Steroids"

Written by Kruti Munot , with Pavithra Mohanraj and Priyal Shah  as part of a series with Infinitive . Cross-posted from Linkedin .  Over the last year, we’ve discussed ideas around the circular economy (CE) with a range of people - from students and mentees, to companies and government stakeholders. When we start introducing the CE , the most common response is “ do you mean better recycling? ” But (in the words of Ken Webster ), viewing the circular economy as simply “recycling on steroids” ignores some of its most powerful aspects. This post is an attempt to demystify what the CE really is (and isn’t) - based on conversations we’ve had with multiple stakeholders from our work at Infinitive. Q: Plastic bottles are recycled. Isn’t that part of the circular economy? It is circular to recover waste and put it back into production, but very few materials actually get recycled this way. Most are “down-cycled” into products of lower quality and functionality. Ultimately

Environment versus Development? Reflections on an LSE Lecture

I'm currently pursuing an MSc in Environment and Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. This is a reflection I wrote recently, cross-posted at the LSE Blog .  As a student of Environment and Development, I often leave my lectures feeling slightly unsettled. It is difficult to confront the complexities of the environment-development nexus without a sense of inevitable doom – the future of our existence on the planet seems bleaker by the day as more people adopt resource-intensive lifestyles fueled by the extractive economy. The culprit of this catastrophe is described through a range of catchphrases: institutional failures, climate change, unchecked capitalism, resource scarcity, socio-economic inequality … Where do we begin to address them? How do we disentangle and understand these issues in the first place? Dr. Barbara Harriss-White’s talk at the LSE last week did just this. Dr. Harriss-White looked at the bigger picture to exp

What Religious Growth Can Teach Startups About Scaling

Some say startups are like new religions, and I wouldn’t disagree. Now this metaphor is a precarious proposition for the fact that there are so many ways one can interpret it. Here’s one way to look at it: Most mid-sized new ventures are famously obsessive about their own company culture, baptize new employees into this culture through inductions/bootcamps, and their company rituals and norms reinforce their dedication towards this religion. On the other hand, religions are, in some ways, like (social) ventures themselves. They start to bring a change into the world. Some grow across countries, some don’t. Some lasted the test of time and a massively changing external environment, while others failed and died out eventually. There have been hundreds of religious groups and movements throughout history, but only few survived over time and continue growing even now. Religion grows as a result of a religious movement; studying how these religious movements spread can give ideas o

Everything is interconnected: Dropping cats and thinking in systems

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... Oh wait, this isn’t fiction. Or Star Wars. A not-so-long time ago, on an island not-so-far away, it literally rained cats. Cats in parachutes.                                                                                             Yep. ( image source ) In the early 1950s, Borneo was affected by a serious malaria outbreak. The World Health Organization, as part of their antimalarial campaign, sprayed houses on the island with insecticide DDT to kill the mosquito vector responsible for the spread of the disease. And it worked, the number of cases of malaria reduced. However, there were some other serious consequences. 

The Circular Economy: An Introduction

A term that often pops up while reading about sustainable development, efficiency or growth is "circular economy". We should aim to shift towards a circular economy model to reduce our environmental footprint, optimize costs, produce efficiently... and so on. But what is  the circular economy? Why should businesses, industries and people care? This post should serve as a short introduction to the concept.  Essentially, the circular economy is the more sustainable alternative to our current "linear" economy system.  What most industries do right now is: Take, Make and Dispose. Extract resources, process them into products, dispose off after use as waste. This is a linear system, the waste after use ultimately goes back to the earth and is, more often than not, toxic, unusable or takes long to biodegrade. Our economy runs on this linear chain of events. In the long run, this is definitely not a sustainable approach, since we can only &

On Being a Teen

[Edit: Nearly two years after writing this, I  realize how quickly I've grown and thoughts have changed over time, I feel quite differently about being a teenager now! I'm pretty sure I'll say this again next year...] Someone asked what it feels like to be a teenager in 2014.  I'm 17, and I can say, being a teen is something I like as much as I dislike: There are way too many  opportunities  today in 2014, but way too much  competition  too. The idea of being "above-average" has been drilled into our heads, it seems like a normal average person can get nowhere today. There's a bundle of  expectations  from us kids. I have self-set expectations too. Seeing so many people do brilliant things at this age makes me want to be like one of them too. I feel  connected . Technology arrived the right time for our generation, in my opinion. I am Indian, but the whole "global citizen" concept means a lot to me. The internet has helped me connect