There is a new global conversation afoot, perhaps you’ve heard of it? We’re speaking of the Circular Economy.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, the Circular Economy is a model of production and consumption which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products for as long as possible. In a circular economy, the life of a product is extended, its value is maintained, waste is reduced and ideally, at the very end of life, products should biologically return to nature.
This is opposed to the linear economy – also described as a Take – Make – Waste economy. This has been the desired model since the start of the Industrial Revolution and, it ‘worked’ when resources were plentiful, and the population was smaller. Our economy currently consumes 70% more resources per year than the earth is capable of replenishing in the same period of time. Thus, creating disturbances in the natural systems that support economic activity and instability for the earth and its inhabitants.
Moving to a circular economy is a necessity – Mother Earth simply cannot sustain the status quo. The month of April is when we celebrate the Earth and, in June, we’ll celebrate our Oceans. These are times we put a little more attention to considering our commitments and efforts toward protecting the Earth. Reuse, Reduce and Recycle is a common mantra yet, most of us just hear Recycle and, during these times we do a bit more of this conscientiously in support. The truth is, just a tiny fraction of what we place into our blue bins gets recycled. In the end, we spend much of our time feeling good for our efforts of …. sorting! That is the bad news; it just isn’t good enough.
Here’s the good news. No, the GREAT news and where the Circular Economy comes in! The coworking/flexible office space industry is, in fact, a reuse and reduce industry. Go back and re-read the description of the Circular Economy. Shared or service use models, such as ours, where an asset is well designed and maintained for the longest amount of time, and services the greatest number of people is what we do. By the nature of our business model, we reduce waste and promote reuse. In our model, instead of 100 companies each having a meeting room with a table and six chairs (100 tables and 600 chairs), our functional meeting rooms allow 100 companies the use one table and six chairs.
Our partner network of flex office operators offers smart designs and functional shared spaces. Instead of 100 companies using a workspace for say 3 to 5 years and then moving on and discarding the tenant improvements (often adding toxic mess into our already burgeoning landfills), our spaces and fixtures are often used continuously for 10 to 15 years.
The even better news … shared and service use models need to gain ubiquity over the ownership model for the world to make a meaningful transition to the circular economy. Collaboration is a principal element of the circular economy and fortunately, already part of the DNA of the flexible/coworking workspace model. This is big news and those of us faithfully growing and supporting this industry need to be shouting it from the rooftops. We are part of a solution to a horrible global problem. There’s much work to be done to address waste (more on that later) but for today, let’s celebrate the ideals of the Circular Economy.
Several of out partner locations have recently made a commitment to reducing single-use plastic within their workspaces. If you’re interested in being part of a workspace community with a sustainable ethos, contact us and we can help match you to one of our sustainably certified workspace providers.