Circular Economy Archives - WBGS
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Circular Economy

Declutter your Dormant Goods!

Spring has sprung and we all know that means cleaning out all the old rag-dag winter clothes to make way for a fabulous summer wardrobe. Spring cleaning and decluttering that winter wardrobe can be tricky – it’s hard to know what to keep, what to donate or whether you should really throw out your high school senior jersey that you never wear anymore. You know you should probably throw it out, but the thought of it sitting on a rotting pile of landfill makes your eyes a little watery. 

You wonder how you’re going to get rid of this jumper that’s just taking up space in your cupboard? Will the jumper end up in landfill waste? Will a charity shop take this garment? How do you get rid of something you have an emotional attachment to? All these questions can induce you into an anxiety riddled state, but don’t worry, this article has you sorted!

War on Waste

ABC War on Waste - Craig Reucassel and Fast Fashion!

According to the ABC’s war on waste documentary, “Australia is one of the most wasteful countries in the developed world.” There is a growing culture of convenience, fast fashion and furniture/appliances that are not built to last more than 2-3 years. Australians have developed a throw-away society: 

  • 6000kg of clothes are thrown out every 10 minutes, equating to 36 000kg every hour. 
  • 30% of clothing items end up in landfills and even if you donate old clothes to a charity, if the items are not in good condition, it’s landfill. 
  • The same goes for furniture and appliances. 85% of household items that are put out for the good old kerbside collection end up as landfill and are not recycled.

 

These statistics are daunting, but there are a few rules you can follow to successfully organise your home into different waste types in order to effectively make the most of your spring cleaning efforts, taking into account your contribution to household landfill. 

Declutter your Home

  1. Declutter in Stages: An article by Sirin Kale (The Guardian) advises not to declutter all at once. instead, break up your decluttering into smaller, more manageable goals. Spend 10 minutes a day decluttering or declutter three times a week focusing on different areas. 
  2. Set Measurable Goals: Nicola Lewis, organising expert and author of Mind Over Clutter, (Good Housekeeping UK) also recommends decluttering should be an activity you can enjoy by setting measurable goals. For example I’ll declutter my wardrobe in the month of spring, spending 1hr each week focused on different sections until I’m satisfied.
  3. Get Organised: The next step is to organise the declutter into separate piles to keep things organised. The list below is a great way to start:
    1. Retain 
    2. Repair
    3. Repurpose
    4. Rehome
    5. Recycle and 
    6. Resource Recovery (the absolute last resort). 

World’s Biggest Garage Sale - Dormant Goods for Good!

 

Elizabeth Larkin from The Spruce also suggests labeling bins with the above and keeping them in a centralised room within your home. 

Review and Hand-on

So, you’ve organised your declutter chaos and spread out the clean up into organised groups, what next? The next step is absolutely vital, so let’s go through the list again:

    1. Retain – take all your cherished treasured items and organise them in your home.
    2. Repair – for any items that need repair there are several resources out there to assist – visit one of almost 1000 Men’s Shed in Australia, consult iFixit online that has over 54,000 repair guides or drop-in to a local Repair Cafe or launch one yourself!!
    3. Repurpose – try turning those old clothes into household rags, washcloths or scrubbing/polishing cloths; old bags into washing baskets and old containers into desk/stationary storage. Repurposing is always a fantastic way to recommission those old goods into something new. Give your goods to Substation33 and they can disassemble the parts and turn them into something new!!
    4. Renew – Ministry of Handmade run workshops to help you try a fresh coat of paint/fabric, giving your old goods new life or turning them into household decor!
    5. Rehome– Donate items that are in good condition or good working order to local charities (St. Vincent de Paul, Lifeline, Salvos, Red Cross and many more) and for those dormant goods that you can’t bear to part with but rarely use/need (think awesome cocktail dress you can’t wear anymore but still love) World’s Biggest Garage Sale is the place for you.
    6. Recycle – Place anything recyclable in your home recycling bin and for all other items consult Planet Ark’s comprehensive Recycling Near You website and familiarise yourself with what can be recycled in your local area.
    7. Resource Recover (the absolute last resort) – after going through the exhaustive list above, there should be very few items that go into rubbish (aka landfill) and for those that do, remember them and think twice before purchasing something like it again, that is hard to dispose of at end of life. Consider calling on 1800-GOT-JUNK to take away any items you’re unsure of – they ensure that your rubbish is recycled, donated, or otherwise disposed of responsibly.

 

Spring is such a fabulous time of the year!! Hopefully this article has given you some tips and tricks to help you declutter and breathe new life into your home, while responsibly handling the resources that flow in and out of your life!

Happy decluttering!

Profit for Purpose – Bringing Heart Back to Business

It’s a confronting and vulnerable experience putting yourself out there on national TV wearing a love heart on your chest and professing your desire to build a business based on people, planet and profit for purpose. Now we are preparing for our seed round this is the perfect opportunity to explore our triple bottom line focus.

Someone recently said to me, ‘oh you’re a not-for-profit’ and I said ‘no actually we’re profit for purpose’ and they looked at me confused, seeking clarification.

Profit for Purpose

To put everyone in the picture a “Profit for Purpose” business is ‘led by a mission to achieve social, community and environmental benefit through trading and by channeling a portion of their profits toward their mission.’ (1)

And this is exactly how we operate – mobilising dormant goods and harnessing the circular economy leading to reduced waste while simultaneously creating profit for purpose for our customers who host events. To cement this even further we are in the process of formalising as a B Corps which means we:

  • Aim to meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose and
  • we will use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for employees, communities, and the environment. (2)

But my question to everyone is “when did we start forgetting about purpose and just go full tilt at profit?”. And when I say purpose, that doesn’t include a purpose that revolves around just making profit! In venture capital land the chase is still very much focused on lassoing the next Unicorn. Why is doing good for people and planet, plus doing well financially, considered a crazy far-flung concept?

Borrowing from Ted Rheingold, a common question from investors is:

Q: ‘Why don’t you just earn your wealth first, and then donate it afterward?”

A: ‘Why don’t you want to build a highly profitable business that can provide impact more reliably than your future donations?’ (3)

To the investors out there my question to you is: “Take a long hard look at the why of a company, and I mean the real why (not the ‘to make profit’ why) and check whether they’re trying to make the world a better place, not just disrupt existing systems, gather a whole swagger of followers in a short space of time and make quick gains.”

Businesses Aligned to Purpose

I was really heartened by our RiverPitch experience, particularly when I heard Yohan Ramasundara President of the ACS say “It’s really exciting, startups are exciting and ones (startups) with a purpose are even more exciting (because they’re going) to change the world.”

And what is business really? Businesses are teams of people aligned to a common vision, who provide goods and services, to help others by solving problems. If they’re guided by Milton Friedman’s concept that the ‘only social responsibility of companies is to create profit’ then I think current sentiment would agree they are misguided.  Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock certainly believes we need to move in a different direction, “As wealth shifts and investing preferences change, environmental, social, and governance issues will be increasingly material to corporate valuations.”

We need to remember that we all spend so much of our waking lives working in business or interacting with business – whether it’s yours or someone else’s. Surely we want businesses to be led not just by profit, but to be underpinned by a basic human decency that requires care (aka love) for our environment and the community.

As the Spellbinder from Robin Sharma’s The 5am Club said:

“The great women and men of the world were all givers, not takers.  Renounce the common delusion that those who accumulate the most win. Instead do work that is heroic – that staggers your marketplace by the quality of its originality as well as from the helpfulness is provides.”

We want to live and breathe this at World’s Biggest Garage Sale and build a profitable business, where people come to work expressing the best versions of themselves while helping others and solving the world’s problems. We want to activate the circular economy and reduce waste and give a large portion of the wealth generated from this enterprise back to the community along the way. And on this journey we want to address as many of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals as we possibly can and demonstrate a new type of business model that can help achieve #agenda2030.

Patient Capital

We’re looking for investors who are aligned to our vision, for people who are patient with their capital (not greedily needing a return asap) to be part of a business that aims to provide impact every step of the way. As Vicki Saunders, SheEO Founder says:

“The pursuit of maximizing profit at the expense of everything else has created a global crisis of inequality, environmental degradation and countless critical challenges to humanity.

Only considering financial returns has led to a winner takes all mindset where 5 people have the same wealth as half the planet. This economic model is entirely broken and needs a radical rethinking.”

Original Image: Brian Trelstad, Kauffman Fellows

 

With that in mind, the capital we have in mind comes for a person who thinks long term and is comfortable with the following:

  • Longer time horizon for return of capital
  • Forgoing maximum financial returns for greater social impact
  • Unwillingness to sacrifice the interests of the end customer/employees/community/environment  for shareholder gains
  • Greater tolerance for risk than traditional investment capital

This diagram demonstrates our position really well.

 

As a profit for purpose company, we strive for more than just a sustainable business model that creates wealth from waste in the community.  Our passion and purpose is a triple bottom line focus, with community and sustainability (including the Sustainable Development Goals….aka the SDGs or #globalgoals) equal measures in the success of our scaling journey. We genuinely agree with Richard Branson

 

‘The brands that will thrive in the coming years are the ones that have a purpose beyond profit’

 

We are excited to be opening our Seed Investment Round. Please contact us if you would like to learn more.

 

References

 

  1. https://food-x.com/profit-purpose-business-model-whose-time-come/
  2. https://bcorporation.com.au/about-b-corps
  3. https://www.fastcompany.com/40420834/the-non-paradox-of-highly-successful-profit-from-purpose-businesses

Take Action in Your Business to Help Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

SDG Action Awards

Coming up soon is the Global Festival of Action “to showcase the latest innovations, tools and approaches to SDG advocacy and SDG action.” Held every year in Bonn, Germany, the festival recognises individuals, groups and organisations “who are advancing the global movement for the Sustainable Development Goals in the most transformative, impactful and innovative way” via the UN SDG Action Awards.  We encourage you to check out these businesses and find inspiration in what others are doing.

“To meet the SDGs we need everyone to take action.” SDG Action Awards

Australian businesses CEO Statement of Support for SDGs

Together with several other countries, Australia has signed up to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – a blueprint for action to “promote prosperity while protecting the planet”. Australia’s participation started on 1 January 2016 and runs until the end of 2030. Further to this in September of that same year, over 30 Australian companies signed a CEO Statement of Support for the Sustainable Development Goals. We applaud their commitment and contribution to realising a sustainable future for Australia and the world.

 

SDG Private Sector Importance

This points to the importance of the private sector and the critical role businesses will play in achieving the SDGs. As Alice Cope, Executive Manager of the Global Compact Network Australia said, “We are seeing companies embrace the SDGs both in recognition of the critical role they have in contributing to the agenda but also the upside to their businesses in doing so. The SDGs provide a framework for both risk management and opportunity.” “

 

Businesses that are able to offer solutions to the local and global sustainability challenges represented by the goals will build resilience, find new markets and position themselves competitively for the future,” Ms Cope.

 

WBGS and the SDGs

At WBGS we are all about action. Our events that promote the circular economy and facilitate activation of dormant goods for good, directly impact SDG goals:

  • 1 (No Poverty),
  • 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities),
  • 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) 
  • 13 (Climate Action) and
  • are realised by goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).

The goals that our activities target through the community and grassroots activities are:

  • 3 (Good Health and Well-being),
  • 5 (Gender Equality),
  • 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and
  • 9 (Industry Innovation and Infrastructure).

Finally from funds raised at our events we can partner with other organisations to direct impact to the remaining goals.

In order for the SDGs to be realised by 2030, it’s going to take a global effort, with a local grassroots foundation and a realisation that we are more connected than we are divided. We all impact one another, and businesses can dovetail more sustainably into others. Partnerships (SDG17), collaborating with government, the private sector and the community were key to how WBGS got started. As stated at a UN press conference: “We will need all partners to make this a success.” 

 

SDG Workshop

We want to help your business take action, so this May we are partnering with THE IMPACT FACULTY and The University of Queensland Centre for Policy Futures to deliver Sustainable Development Goals for Business. This is a one day workshop on the United Nations #SDGs to help you map the SDGs to your current plans and learn from other case studies.

Business engagement is key to achieving #agenda2030. Come and spend a day learning how to align and action the #SDGs in your business. If you would like to know more or to register your attendance please see Event details or use the link in our comments section!

 

Circular Economy Brisbane Innovators in our Midst

Monday night was another fantastic Circular Economy Futures Meetup for Brisbane. We discussed ‘waste to wealth’ and explored innovative and sustainable solutions for building a Circular Economy. There are some excellent businesses in Brisbane doing some really great work, tackling different issues. From prolonging the life of industrial equipment, to creating useful products from waste, Brisbane has seem real innovators in its midst.

 

Brad Parsons, CEO, MOVUS

Harnessing the Circular Power of AI: ‘Turning Dumb Machines Into Smart Machines’

Our first speaker, Brad Parsons, CEO of MOVUS, discussed how they’re helping to bring sustainability to industry. MOVUS’ world-leading Industrial IoT (IIoT) solution FitMachine® transforms dumb equipment into ‘smart equipment’. It enables this through consumer styled simplicity combined with world-class artificial intelligence. MOVUS’ FitMachine proactively monitors the condition and operating performance of industrial equipment.

Brad challenged us to look at the ‘way’ we live. Their work really fits into the inner circle of maintain/prolong within the Ellen Macarthur Foundation butterfly diagram. Their devices improve asset management and lifecycle optimization, with maintenance teams proactively monitoring and maintaining equipment, rather than reacting to failures or following OEM preventive maintenance schedules. The overall outcome being waste reduction, increased efficiency and empowered people. There was some really great discussion around prolonging the life of machines and keeping them in good working order for as long as possible.

 

Brendan Lee, Circular Economy Manager, Closed Loop

Trash to Treasure: Innovation in Recycling

Our second speaker, Brendan Lee, Circular Economy Manager of Closed Loop, showed us some of the great work they’ve been doing. Very much focused on creating sustainable solutions within existing business models they are finding useful products from waste. Their work sits on the outer arm of the Ellen Macarthur Foundation butterfly diagram looking at recycling. With their Simply Cups coffee cup solution they’re providing an excellent mechanism to ensure the excess of 1 billion disposable coffee cups avoid landfill in Australia. They’re collecting the coffee cups and transforming this trash into treasure with several innovative products emerging, ranging from coat hangers and bricks to pallets and even a keep-cup the rCup®, made from the disposed coffee cups. If that isn’t circular, then I don’t know what is!

They’re also tackling food waste, by providing customers with commercial on-site composting units recycling organic matter, with the capacity to reduce food waste volume by up to 90 per cent in 24 hours. This is some seriously impressive technology, with the machines taking food and organic waste throughout the day, including fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy, meat, fish, poultry, eggshells, crustacean shells and liquid. Within 24 hours, the original material is transformed into a concentrated compost ready for the garden!! Significantly improving on allowed inputs and time of home composting.

Highlighting MOVUS and Closed Loop on the Circular Economy Butterfly Diagram – Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation, SUN, and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment; Drawing from Braungart & McDonough, Cradle to Cradle (C2C)

 

Our First Youth Speaker: Activating the Sustainable Development Goals

Finally, we heard from Sarah and Simeon, co-founders of Illuminating Distractions, a mother and son team working together to educate and engage people on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Illuminating Distractions is a start-up supported by St Paul’s School Centre for Innovation (CIE) and Entrepreneurship. With a passion for the world and a desire to make sure people are educated on sustainable practices, Sarah and Simeon created a fun and interactive card game to teach players about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. And we’re big proponents of SD12 Responsible Consumption and Production, where Circular Economy practices will really come to the fore to address this goal. They’ve already sold over 100 units including some to the United Nations! Our future is in good hands with young leaders like Simeon leading the change.

 

Slide by Illuminating Distractions, Sarah & Simeon Gover

 

The event has really grown over the last few months and the energy on Monday night was fantastic – plenty of robust discussion and connection before and after the talks. It’s a really innovative, encouraging and supportive group proactively bringing the Circular Economy to life in Brisbane and Australia, all with solutions that have the potential to go global. If you have ideas or really care about the Circular Economy, come along to our next Event Wednesday, April 24 to learn and share.

 

International Women’s Day 2019 – #BalanceforBetter

This year marks the 109th International Women’s Day, celebrated on the 8 March and the theme for 2019 is #BalanceforBetter. So what is balance actually – well according to the English Oxford Living Dictionary it’s “a situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions”. And with regards to gender parity in the workplace here at WBGS we think that’s something really great to work towards.

I’ll be right in the swing of it this year. Kicking off the day I’ll be speaking at the Queensland Association of State School Principals inaugural IWD breakfast. Straight after that I’ll be speaking with Monica Bradley at Global Payments who’s nominate cause for IWD is SheEO (more on this below). And finally I’ll be participating in the Global Goals for Sustainable Development Activation Seminar Series hosted by the University of Queensland.  This seminar is about women leading the creation of circular economies for advancing Australia’s SDG 2030 agenda. And of course we strongly support SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. I couldn’t be more excited to be speaking at all of these events, helping champion female leadership.

It’s also a really exciting time in Australia with regards to women-led start-ups. In true female style, women are getting together to address the balance via SheEO. Currently, 96% of venture capital goes to male founders – meaning only 4% goes to female led ventures. SheEO is “a radically redesigned ecosystem that supports, finances, and celebrates female innovators”. They are not trying to fit women into the existing system, rather they are shifting mindsets, levelling the playing field and creating new models for start-ups and business. I am both honoured and proud to say I am a SheEO Activator and Semi-finalist in 2019 helping create a fairer future for women and our ventures. Join me in creating a perpetual fund for women in Australia.

The reality is diversity is just better. Several studies have shown diversity leads to more creative teams and increases a company’s performance. Research by Cloverpop has found that “diverse teams make better decisions up to 87% of the time”. Businesses that are more representative of the people and the world in which we live i.e. diverse teams, will take into account many more perspectives and help to build a world that reflects what we feel and know to be important. This is how we will create the Zebra companies of the future and heal the world.

There are many awesome male champions out there stepping up beside women to accelerate our representation. But as women, we really need to step up to the plate and do the work aswell. We need to believe that we can do it and challenge any impostor syndrome that crashes the party. Don’t wonder if there’s a seat at the table for you – assume that there is! And as females, we also absolutely must celebrate other women’s successes – another woman’s success is not a threat to you! In fact, it’s a very good sign that times are changing and there will be opportunities for you to realise your dreams aswell.

We look forward to a world where our differences are a thing of the past – gender, colour, race, religion etc. and everyone belongs and is fulfilled. This IWD is a chance to celebrate all women, everywhere, in all their shapes and sizes and for whatever choices they have made about how they want to live their lives. We are equally deserving of a chance to live our dreams – let’s all do our part, pay it forward and ensure our daughters, nieces and granddaughters all have a smooth path.

 

Some suggestions for what you can do on IWD 2019

Get along to an IWD Event on Friday 8 March

There are so many great events happening across Australia and internationally. Some of the local Brisbane events are listed below:

 

What are you doing yourself to level-up?

Consider how you as a woman are challenging yourself to grow and be your personal best. This is not about comparing ourselves to other people (comparison is the ‘thief of joy’), but really going inside and unearthing our deepest goals and challenging any limiting assumptions about what we can achieve in the world. When was the last time you were really outside your comfort zone? It’s scary but also exhilarating – get out there.

 

How can you support other women?

Take the chance on IWD to shout out to all your female family members, friends and colleagues and congratulate them on a job well done. Also consider giving a gift that empowers other women – there are many great organisations helping to further #BalanceforBetter, see IWDs recommended Female-focused charities and foundations. Through acknowledging and supporting other women that balance will be achieved.