The Circular Economy I Oxford Open Learning

The Circular Economy

A Circular Economy? What’s that mean? Is it important? Those may be questions you have on reading this title. Well, firstly, no, it’s not a bunch of economists talking endlessly about their work. Instead, it is in fact a serious approach to how we do things and run our society; it’s where environmental science gets involved with money. It’s about recycling. It’s apart from the ‘linear economy’.

The concept of the circular economy is not a new one, and, for one, has been adopted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Ellen famously made her name sailing single-handedly around the world, and as she said, being on your own on a boat for any length of time helps you understand ‘the true meaning of the word Finite’. In other words she learned how to be resourceful and how not to waste things.

In the last few years, Ellen’s foundation has decided to use the ‘circular economy’ as its campaign’s main ethos and has signed up a surprising number of partners. The ‘World Economic Forum’ has bought into the idea enthusiastically, and schools and universities have also explored the concept. There’s a schools competition where you can win a cash prize – the Wege prize – for the best ideas. One such was a project to create a ‘pop-up’ hospital. This is a prefab hospital which can be erected where it’s needed, then later taken down again. Another idea was a washable football strip where the name of the old sponsor could be changed for a new one. Perhaps they’re thinking of a football team that isn’t very good and keeps needing new sponsors!

As mentioned, several universities are looking at circular economics. The University of Bradford is one, offering the first MBA in the subject. Elsewhere, 16 – 25 year olds in Scotland have done a ‘creative jam‘ to try and help design a cleaner, less wasteful culture. They are supported by ‘Zero Waste Scotland’ who will help them with apps, online training, and a poster creation website to spread the word.

Most of what we hear about economics these days is currencies, credit and loans. There’s precious little about how what we buy is produced, used and maybe could be reused, and of the money lost and saved in that process. We can save money at the same time as saving the environment: isn’t that a good thing?

See more by

I'm semi-retired after a successful and much enjoyed career in education. Funnily enough, my last job was as a tutor for OOL. I taught on courses providing professional training for school support staff, as well as A level English Literature and English Literature GCSE. I've had an interesting career, in schools, colleges, adult education, the Arts and a few other bits and bobs. At one stage I was also a local authority inspector. Now I'm a school governor, and am enjoying watching my young grandchildren go through their own first experiences of school. Through these articles I hope to keep you up to date with different aspects of education news – and also to keep you interested!

Stay Connected