How Do We Encourage More People To Participate In The Circular Economy?


As a brand specialising in pre-loved, high-end luxury products, we’re proud that we already support and encourage the circular economy. Doubtless, being more sustainable and caring for the planet that we live in is essential to protect it for future generations as is to educate our children in the importance of preserving natural resources. This piece is about how we can all participate more in the circular economy and encourage others to do so too.

The Linear Economy

Our economy has mainly been linear – let’s explain what that means. In simple terms, a linear economy has a beginning and an end. So, a product is produced, and it’s used and then it’s thrown away, that’s the end of it (except for the waste problem). The linear economy has produced the most enormous amount of waste and that waste is threatening the planet. There’s textile waste, plastic waste, electronic waste and food waste (and more too). There’s also the effects of greenhouse gases due to supply chains. So, the planet is especially under threat from carbon and methane gases. In short, as a planet, we’re consuming 75% more resources than the earth can cope with in the longer term.

Waste Not, Want Not!

When it comes to the waste problem, we are throwing away 2.2 billion tonnes of waste globally. To put that in perspective, that’s rubbish that could easily fill up Wembley Stadium nearly 3,000 times! Imagine that! Now, consider this. The World Bank Group tells us that number is going to double in just three years. By 2050, that amount will double again. Too many people don’t take heed and think “Oh well, it doesn’t affect me!” but it will affect all of us, and it will most definitely affect our children and grandchildren. Our grandparents used to say, “Waste not want not.” We need to adopt that attitude again!

We Are Getting Better

On a positive note, in London alone, recycling is over 40% (it was just 11% in 2010) so there’s definitely been some progress, but we need more. There’s lots we can do to reduce the impact but educating ourselves is really important, so we can take steps to be more sustainable, to recycle, upcycle, sell on or re-use items. We’re not just talking about designer products. The circular economy relates to any physical product at all, with the exception of edible goods.
The Goal of the Circular Economy
The goal of the circular economy is to reach zero waste (which is a big ask) to minimise depleting our natural resources and reduce (and even reverse) damage to the environment. There are three principles of the circular economy:
• To minimise waste and pollution.
• To extend the life of products.
• To regenerate natural systems.
There’s so much that a circular economy can do to support the environmental challenges as well as economical and sociological challenges. The circular economy approach doesn’t just rely on reselling goods, recycling them or reusing them, it also relies on cutting air pollution, reducing packaging and innovating greener industries. It also relies on you to play your role too.
So let’s talk about what we all can do to do more for the circular economy.

1 Buy Pre-Loved Designer Wear

That coveted handbag, that insanely beautiful designer dress, those wacky Jimmy Choo shoes – why do we need to buy brand new designer goods? There’s a lot to be said about choosing the pre-loved route. Firstly, there’s the sustainable angle of course, we are getting something that’s (if from Papillonkia) pretty much as good as new and if not, it will be in excellent condition, so we contribute to a more sustainable planet. Secondly, lots of pre-loved items still hold good value, for example, the Chanel Boy Bag, especially limited editions. Some, like certain Hermes bags, even improve in value as they become harder to get hold of and therefore more sought after. Of course, some brand-new designer bags carry very hefty price tags, and it’s possible to still find some really serious bargains choosing the pre-loved route. Do tell all friends and family too – because there’s so much opportunity in pre-loved, for that handbag and designer wardrobe but also for the planet!

2 Sell Pre-Loved Designer Wear

As well as buying pre-loved, why not do a regular overhaul of what’s in that wardrobe? There’s probably quite a few items that will never be worn again. In fact, the average Brit only wears around 44% of their wardrobe. So rather than gathering dust or ending up thrown out (and contributing to the considerable global waste problem), consign consigning designer handbags, accessories and shoes to Papillonkia. Get paid for the resale and play a role in encouraging the circular economy to keep turning.

3 Can It Be Repaired or Recycled Instead?

When coming across an item that would normally be thrown away, next time, think first. Before tossing it in the bin and rushing out to buy a replacement (and contribute to carbon emissions), ask yourself if you really need a brand-new replacement? Could you repair the item? Could you get it dry cleaned? Could you upcycle it? Or consign it as above! There are lots of businesses out there that repair and restore, and actually, a beaten-up old leather jacket can be rather beautiful! Remember, designer goods are always very well made, built to last and often improve with time, depending on the base material. Restoring something is a lot cheaper than buying new (and better for the environment too).

4 Take Unwanted Clothing To Charity Shops

Of course there are times when clothes, shoes, accessories and even handbags just aren’t worth repairing. Old, worn-out items should still never be thrown out. We’d encourage you to send anything that can’t be sold on, upcycled or recycled to your nearest charity shop. Please don’t just throw it away (although plenty British people just throw it out, rather than donating). There’s always time to drop off unwanted items to the charity shop. There are other places where you can list items you no longer want, that are best for fast fashion or large non-apparel items. Try social media, or Freecycle is great for furniture and white goods.

5 Borrow It or Rent It!

If you have a one-off, special occasion and you don’t want to spend a fortune plus you know you’d like to support the circular economy there are other ways of sporting the latest designer wear! You could borrow something from a friend. That’s simple and easy enough to do – as long as you have a kindly friend who doesn’t mind you wearing her favourite designer dress. Or, if it really is a single event and you obviously would rather spend as little as possible on something you won’t use again, then why not rent it instead? There are lots of rental websites now specialising in designer wear at both ends of the scale. From super-brands to high-end high street, you’re bound to find something ideal for that one, special night. Try Hurr or Selfridges Rental.

6 Organise a Swap-A-Thon With Friends

Remember that wardrobe clear out we mentioned earlier? Why not encourage the circular economy to grow by organising a swap-a-thon clothes, shoes, handbags and accessories party with friends? Bring unwanted items together, enjoy a bottle of bubbly (recycle the bottle!) and swap items out. You could come home with a totally brand-new wardrobe; you’ll be happy and the planet will be too!

The Circular Economy Isn’t Just About Physical Goods, Clothing and Apparel

We’ve mainly talked about clothing, shoes, handbags, accessories etc. but that’s not just what the circular economy covers. A circular economy means reducing waste, reusing, thinking carefully about how we buy and what we buy, it also involves sustainable initiatives, less packaging and using recyclable materials wherever possible. So what else can you do apart from the above ideas?

1 Re-think Your Travel Choices

Rather than taking your car out, why not walk? Or consider a bicycle instead? You’ll get fit and reduce your carbon footprint! In fact, if you are a car-owner, when it comes to changing your car, consider an electric car instead.

2 Think About Your Home Appliances

Next time you need to replace a washing machine or dishwasher (or other large appliance), think about purchasing one from a sustainable company, one that uses eco-friendly approaches to their production processes and materials. Look for the PolyCE mark, which represents companies that take great care in manufacturing to support the environment.

3 Save Water, Turn it Off!

Think about water usage. If you love a bath, could you switch to a shower instead? When you brush your teeth, don’t leave the tap on, just use it to begin and rinse at the end. That one, small action a day saves up to 8 gallons of good old H2O a day!

4 Stop Using the Waste Disposal & Use the Food Waste Bin

And start recycling your food waste! If you don’t have a little brown bin, ask your local council to supply one and put your food waste in it. Food waste is used to make natural fertilisers and pesticides rather than using harmful, man-made chemical products.

5 Avoid Plastic Packaging and Switch to Recyclable Where You Can

Plastic is one of the biggest waste problems in the world. Not only does it end up on landfill, much of it taking up to 100 years to decompose, but it’s harming marine life. Many brands are working hard to switch to more sustainable alternatives. Look for items that use minimal packaging and if you can, avoid plastics. Instead, choose recyclable and reusable packaging.

6 Use Your Own Cup Next Time You Grab a Coffee

Rather than getting your takeaway coffee using your preferred café’s cup, take your own. Did you know that every day 7.5 million disposable coffee cups in the UK are taken to landfill, or burnt? So next time you get a skinny latte, bring your own cup!

7 Switch Over to LED Lightbulbs

If you are still using halogen light bulbs then next time you need to change your bulbs, choose LEDs. They last longer, they’re cool in temperature, so they don’t emit heat and they transform 70% of their energy into light. That’s why they’re more efficient and better for the environment than halogens.

Final Words on Encouraging a Greener, Circular Economy

It really is up to all of us to make a difference and small changes will help our children and future generations live safely on our planet. Educating our children is another important aspect of moving over to a more sustainable environment. Schools have already started the process but as adults, we must lead by example so that going forward, our children automatically make greener choices without question.

Written by Emma Crossick