IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE OF CIRCULARITY PART 2: CIRCULARITY IN PRACTICE
We are well within the midst of an ethical revolution. Formulated in an effort towards creating a circular economy, THE GUESTLIST’s Cashmere Spa was created by CEO, Anton Schumann. With a diverse background in the textile industry, Schumann realized the need to not only honor the practices of sustainability, but also the invaluable importance of immersive experiences of circularity. As guests to this planet, and a platform for the creative minds of the future, it is important that THE GUESTLIST keeps looking ahead - beyond what is merely sustainable. THE GUESTLIST aims to put circularity in practice.
This concept became more and more evident to Dame Ellen MacArthur on her solo circumnavigations of the world. She became acutely aware of the finite nature of the resources our linear economy relies upon when she was placed in the experience of being miles away from any support, having only the resources onboard her boat at her disposal to survive on.
Photo from Nigel Irens
She recounts some harrowing tales from these navigations in her TED talk, such as being in the Southern Ocean, south of Australia: “The conditions were horrendous. I was approaching a part in the ocean which was 2,000 miles away from the nearest town. The nearest land was Antarctica, and the nearest people would be those manning the European Space Station above me. You really are in the middle of nowhere. If you need help, and you're still alive, it takes four days for a ship to get to you and then four days for that ship to get you back to port. No helicopter can reach you out there, and no plane can land. We are forging ahead of a huge storm. Within it, there were 80 knots of wind, which was far too much wind for the boat and me to cope with. The waves were already 40 to 50 feet high…”
WHAT WE HAVE OUT THERE IS ALL WE HAVE...
She realized from these experiences that something similar is happening with our planet: “Your boat is your entire world, and what you take with you when you leave is all you have. If I said to you all now, "Go off into Vancouver and find everything you will need for your survival for the next three months," that's quite a task. That's food, fuel, clothes, even toilet roll and toothpaste. That's what we do, and when we leave we manage it down to the last drop of diesel and the last packet of food. No experience in my life could have given me a better understanding of the definition of the word "finite." What we have out there is all we have. There is no more.”
Photo from Bret Hartman/TED
She continued that never in her life had she ever translated that definition of finite that she had felt on board to anything outside of sailing - until she had stepped off the boat at the finish line having broken a record. “Suddenly I connected the dots,” she said. “Our global economy is no different. It's entirely dependent on finite materials we only have once in the history of humanity. And it was a bit like seeing something you weren't expecting under a stone and having two choices: I either put that stone to one side and learn more about it, or I put that stone back and I carry on with my dream job of sailing around the world.” From this realisation, Dame Ellen stepped away from professional sailing in 2009 to launch the Ellen MacArthur Foundation following four years of traveling the world and researching the challenges facing our current global economy. As immersive experiences of circularity become more prevalent, we are able to see the real impact that switching to a circular economy can have.
Photo by Little John on Unsplash
THERE ARE LIMITS TO THE CURRENT APPROACH TO SUSTAINABILITY
The limits of the current approach to sustainability are also highlighted by Juliet Ann Gerrard, FRSNZ, HonFRSC, a New Zealand biochemistry academic.
Photo from University of Auckland
She is a professor at the University of Auckland and is currently the New Zealand Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor.With the initiation of her advisoryship to Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, Professor Gerrad is working towards an onshore closed-loop recycling system - thereby placing more emphasis on putting circularity in practice.
As she states in Science and the Plastics Problem, it is not merely enough to be recycling in a way that creates a slow downward spiral of overproduction. New models need to come into play. As it stands, humans have created about 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic to date. This is equivalent to the weight of 822,000 Eiffel Towers, or 25,000 Empire State Buildings, or 80 million blue whales, or 1 billion elephants. This needs to change and shift. And with local, New Zealand-based initiatives such as Humble Bee (which aims to disrupt the dysfunction of the plastic industry by replacing existing, unsustainable, synthetic plastics with their biomimicry inspired counterpart), it seems set that New Zealand will be a leader to watch in the coming years.
Photo by Hermes Rivera from Unsplash
"RECYCLING IS NOT THE ANSWER TO SUSTAINABILITY"
In response to a panel discussion with Kim Hill called “The Packaging Dilemma,” Prof. Juliet stated that recycling is not the answer to sustainability. She outlines that “Even if we could do all the sorting, and get people to recycle, the chemistry is still not perfect. So, it will never be a circle, it will be a downward spiral. Recycling is both part of the problem and part of the solution.” Instead, she advocates for a circular economy. What we think of as rubbish, therefore, becomes a resource instead, adding to the immersive experiences of circularity.
Working in collaboration with all interested parties - those within the industry itself, along with everyone from stakeholders to community-based groups - Prof. Gerrad’s initiative seeks to ensure that it uses collaboration to come up with the most impactful next steps for all involved. In the philosophy of the Para Kore, a community group that is involved in the collaborative efforts: “The major principle is that we return all resources back to where they came in the most natural process possible.”
In line with what the Ellen Macarthur Foundation states, we need to look beyond the current “take-make-waste” extractive industrial model that we find ourselves in currently. We need to place emphasis not only on sustainability. And this begins within the design process itself.
A CIRCULAR ECONOMY
From the outset, a “circular economy” aims to redefine growth, and focus on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. It is based on:
1. Designing out waste and pollution
2. Keeping products and materials in use
3. Regenerating natural systems
Right from the design perspective, the premise of the creation of THE GUESTLIST pieces is that they are made to last a lifetime, and beyond. This is highlighted in the commitment to function as a circular economy - wherein the business itself maintains ownership of all materials, resources, and waste. Subsequently, more is done within the business than simple recycling efforts. There is an explicit focus on consumption, production, manufacturing, repair, and waste-management as important factors that need to be ethically sound in order to maintain success and growth. Within THE GUESTLIST’s Cashmere Spa endeavors, high quality cashmere pieces can be cared for in the best possible ways - putting circularity in practice.