Why Homeowners should care about circular economy

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Why Homeowners Should Care About the Circular Economy

The circular economy is a concept that’s gaining lots of attention. It’s a way to address pressing environmental and economic challenges in meaningful ways. The circular economy is an alternative economic model that’s designed to be regenerative and sustainable. Not extractive and wasteful. The circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.

Sustain South Carolina describes the Circular Economy as “the process for complete recycling. Waste materials, including energy, become inputs for other processes. This regenerative approach, aimed at eliminating waste, is in contrast to the traditional ‘take, make, dispose’ linear economy model.”

Linear Versus Circular Models

Infographic so homeowners can understand circular economy

The linear economy that has dominated our economic system for decades is based on a model of take-make-dispose, where resources are extracted from the earth, turned into products, and then discarded as waste. This isn’t sustainable. It’s not a political issue either. It’s ugly and lazy. It’s designed to drive vapid consumerism and max profits. And it’s leading to environmental degradation, climate change, and resource depletion. There is an alternative model.

The circular economy offers a solution to this problem by shifting our focus from the end of a product’s life cycle to the beginning. Instead of designing products for disposal, the circular economy encourages us to design products with their end-of-life in mind. This means using materials that are biodegradable, recyclable, or reusable, and designing products so that they can be easily disassembled and repurposed.

Patagonia's Quest for Circularity

Trash and Stash signature Patagonia overalls.

“The idea was to create a line that never ended up in a landfill. Return, recycle and reuse every single polyester fiber… It would be a rebuttal to the preindustrial hunger for scale and speed that was inundating landfills with clothes most didn’t need in the first place.” This is the concept behind their Common Threads Garment Recycling Program.

More about Patagonia’s approach to creating a closed loop economiuc model here. >>

Another important reason why the circular economy is important is that it has the potential to create significant economic benefits. The circular economy is a regenerative economic model. It’s designed to keep resources in use for as long as possible. This means that the circular economy can help to create new business opportunities and jobs, as well as reducing costs and increasing efficiencies for existing businesses.

Companies that are able to design products that are more durable, repairable, and recyclable can reduce their costs by reducing the amount of waste they produce, and by creating new revenue streams from the materials they recover. Companies that are able to develop new technologies for recycling and repurposing materials can also create new business opportunities and jobs in the circular economy. Take for example All Green Recycling here in Charlotte who recycles end- of- life electronics (e-waste) with a zero landfill policy.

The circular economy is also important for promoting social equity and inclusion. The linear economy is based on a model of consumption and disposal, which often leads to the exploitation of people and resources in developing countries. The circular economy, on the other hand, is based on a model of sustainability and regeneration, which has the potential to promote social equity and inclusion.

By creating new business opportunities and jobs in the circular economy, we can help to create more equitable and inclusive economic systems. We can also help to promote the development of sustainable communities that are based on local resources and local needs.

Environmentally, the circular economy creates real answers to  pressing global challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and resource depletion. 

Trash and Stash recycling metal at Rock Hill scrap yard

By promoting a regenerative economic model that’s based on sustainability and resilience, we can help to create a more just and sustainable future for all.  It’s a solution- centric approach with real- life benefit rather than political posturing.

Why Homeowners Should Care About the Circular Economy

The circular economy emphasizes the reduction, reuse and recycling of resources in order to create a sustainable, closed- loop system. It’s a concept that is increasingly important for homeowners to understand and embrace, as it has the potential to transform the way we live, work, and consume.

The traditional “take-make-waste” model of consumption relies on the continual extraction of natural resources, the production of goods and the disposal of waste. It’s not a sustainable long- term model. By contrast, homeowners interested in implementing closed- loop consumption behavior take a more sustainable approach to home design, renovation, purchasing and maintenance.

Sustainable home design considers energy efficient systems and appliances. Using eco- friendly materials, native landscaping and renewable energy sources.

Environmentally responsible home renovation maximizes the use of existing materials and minimizes waste. It’s repurposing existing materials.

Homeowners embracing the circular economy may change their buying habits. Rather than focusing on cheap and disposal, they may focus on quality and longevity when making a purchasing decision. Products that may cost more initially, but that are built to last. Or products (like energy star appliances) that will save energy and money over time (consider inflation and ever increasing costs of energy). You may also purchase eco- friendly or recycled (and recyclable) products.

Charlotte, NC: An Aspiring Smart City

Charlotte is not only one of the US’s fastest growing cities it’s becoming one of the greenest. Organizations like Trash and Stash, Envision Charlotte and others are “proving that environmental consciousness can walk hand- in- hand with economic prosperity.

The Costs to Consider of the Circular Economy

There are financial benefits for homeowners interested in adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. In some instances, there may be higher upfront costs but both direct and indirect long term savings.

Old white refrigerator sitting outside

For instance, there is an upfront cost to purchasing energy star appliances, installing energy efficient lighting, improving insulation, implementing renewable energy and using water saving plumbing. 

Long term, these improvements will save money month to month (quite significant savings when you consider the future cost of energy and the increased value of your home).

Purchasing high quality products means your replacement costs will be less. Furthermore, these items still hold value even when they’re no longer useful to you (either through resale or recycling).

A more efficient house is a more attractive home to future buyers. Sustainable home improvements will increase the value of your house if/ when you ever decide to sell it.

An indirect benefit of participating in the circular economy is to your health. Sustainable living often involves reduced exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins. This leads to better quality of life and fewer healthcare expenses.

7 Ways Homeowners Can Participate in the Circular Economy

Homeowners participating in the circular economy need to make intentional choices to reduce waste, extend the lifespan of products and minimize their use of finite resources. Here are 7 ways to get started…

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle

The first step is to reduce waste. Avoid using single- use products and packaging. Reuse as much as possible and recycle what can’t be reused.

Buy Sustainable Products

Choose products made from sustainable and renewable materials that are designed to last longer.

Repair & Repurpose

Rather than throwing away items that are broken or no longer useful, fix them or find a new use for them. If you can’t use it, consider donation.

Buy Second Hand

Shopping at thrift stores, garage sales and online marketplaces reduces waste and extends the lifespan of those products (often while benefitting charitable organizations and your local community).

Compost

Composting keeps organic materials out of the landfills and minimizes the need for synthetic fertilizers.

Renewable Energy Sources

Renewable energy sources (like solar) reduces your reliance on finite resources and lowers your carbon footprint. It’s also a hedge against predatory energy companies and their ever- inflating energy costs.

Community Sharing Programs

Participate in community sharing programs where neighbors can borrow and lend items like tools, kitchen appliances and books to reduce waste and limit unnecessary purchasing.

Circular Economy & Junk Removal

It may seem counter intuitive for a junk removal company to be promoting the circular economy concept. After all, our job is to get rid of waste, trash and junk. We don’t see it that way though.

We started Trash and Stash as an act of resistance. To strike back against rampant consumerism and predatory marketing tactics. We want to do what’s right. But we also see it as a business tactic that separates us from our competitors (both reasons we’re pursuing B Corp Certification). We see it as a sound business strategy to stay at the front of the bell curve. We’re looking to create our own service category based on responsible disposal practices. Something different than junk removal.

By promoting the circular economy, we’re positioning ourselves as leaders in the sustainability movement to attract Charlotte area businesses and customers who are looking for eco-friendly solutions. 

Adoption of the circular economy is also allowing us to expand out business offerings. By partnering with local recycling facilities and other businesses, we can offer a wider range of services that cater to the needs of customers who are looking for sustainable solutions.

Here’s more about how we’re participating in the circular economy…

  • Donate and reuse items: Our first instinct is to resell or donate rather than dump. We resell what we can with sale proceeds going to the Isabella Santos Foundation as part of our 2nd Life Program. If we can’t resell, we have a roster of donation centers we work with.
  • Recycle materials: We partner with recycling centers or companies that specialize in recycling specific materials, such as electronics, plastic, metal or construction waste to keep recyclables out of the landfill.
  • Offer eco-friendly options:  We are a service business spending most of our time on the road. We’re working on creating more efficient routing models to minimize fuel consumption and decrease our carbond footprint. We also have no warehouse. We work from coworking spaces and shared storage facilities. This allows our operations to grow and contract seasonally with minimal utility exposure.
  • Educate customers: We help educate our customers about the importance of reducing waste and promote sustainable practices such as composting, recycling, and upcycling (see this blog post).
  • Collaborate with other businesses: We’ve created partnerships with other businesses, artists, tradespeople and organizations in the community to find innovative ways to reduce waste and promote sustainability.

the circular economy is an alternative economic model that’s designed to be regenerative and sustainable, rather than extractive and wasteful. It offers a solution to some of the most pressing environmental, economic, and social challenges of our time, and has the potential to create significant benefits for individuals, businesses, and communities around the world. We’re proud to be part of this new economy. It’s meaningful to us and impactful to our community. It’s consistent with our “think local, act local” philosophy. Small everyday choices add up to big changes. 

Want to know more? Here’s more about the circular economy.

Give & Save

Get 10%* Off junk removal & moving help when you donate $25 or more to the Isabella Santos Foundation. Help increase the survival rate for kids with rare pediatric cancers.
Special offer

*Up to $100 discounted from Junk Removal & Moving Help total.

Photo of Isabella Santos

Give & Save

Get 10%* Off junk removal & moving help when you donate $25 or more to the Isabella Santos Foundation. Help increase the survival rate for kids with rare pediatric cancers.

*Up to $100 discounted from Junk Removal & Moving Help total.

Cameron Ungar

Cameron Ungar

Junk removal was not my first career choice. It was my best choice though. I used to run events for a living. I did that for almost 15 years until a global pandemic launched me into the junk removal business. I’m an expert in operations, team building & creating incredible customer experiences. And... I love helping people simplify their lives.

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