As more local authorities, governments, and companies give increasing recognition to the value of Circular Economy (CE), it seems like the term has become a synonym of sustainability, a catchy -almost tokenistic-  phrase that is on everyone’s mind. With this, it is fair to wonder how can we support and implement CE in our communities?

This blog will quickly give you a refresh of what CE is and what Camden Council and the UK government have committed to around CE practices. More importantly, this blog will be a brief introduction to a CE that is accessible to you, done by you, and in your community. From here, Camden Friends of the Earth will continue bringing more resources to show you how you can practise Community Circular Economy in Camden.

Simply put, Circular Economy aims to produce and distribute products and services while keeping resources in use for as long as possible, extracting maximum value from them, promoting their efficiency, and minimizing waste. This is an alternative to the traditional linear economy of make, use, dispose. In the Camden Climate Action Plan, the Council has committed to working with major estates and organisations to promote circular economy. In July 2020, and after more than 5 years of supporting the development of the EU Circular Economy Package (CEP), the UK government has committed to its own UK CEP, introducing a legislative framework, identifying steps for the reduction of waste and establishing an ambitious and credible long-term path for waste management and recycling.

Circular Economy diagram by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Without further introduction, let us look at some simple ways you can practice Community Circular Economy in Camden. These steps are grouped in our 2020/2021 core campaigns.

  1. Learn something new: Educating yourself and those around you will make you aware of CE practices and will give you tools to make your life more sustainable. The London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), WRAP, and Ellen MacArthur Foundation have lots of resources for you to learn more. For starters, watch this video.
  2. Participate: Voting for local party members that support and align with the UK CEP. Write to your Councillors or Council offices, calling them to acknowledge and implement the new UK CEP (an email draft here).
  3. Build community: Find and join local groups, like Think&Do Camden, that are interested in sustainability.
  4. Check our Camden Sustainable Living Map.

Fast Fashion

  1. Buy/swap second hand: Every time you buy second hand you save carbon, water and waste. Buy from and donate to second hand shops in your area.
  2. Run your own clothes swap: With the right preparation, especially in the times of COVID-19, you could organise your own clothes swap. There are lots of guides on how to do this. If you are interested in running your COVID-19 safe clothes swap, contact us, we are happy to help.
  3. Get to know your impact: Find out the impact of your fashion choices. Farfetch, in partnership with QSA, ICARO and the LWARB, developed a Fashion Footprint Tool.
  4. As a last resource, recycle your clothes: you can recycle old clothes and textiles at the Regis Road Reuse and Recycling Centre.
  5. Don’t buy, rent: Yes! You can always rent a dress for your cousin’s wedding, but services like LoanHood, Selfridges Project Earth and The Devout allow you to rent your entire wardrobe.

Resource not waste

  1. Say no to plastic: When possible, shop local for plastic free products. Every bit of plastic out of your local waste management system helps decrease the need to spend local resources on these services. Look at our Camden Sustainable Living Map, visit Camden’s Refill Station, and check food services like Fair-Well and Veg Box for some ideas.
  2. Share and Borrow: Check for your closest Library of Things (coming soon to Kentish Town Library), and websites like Fat Llama, to borrow things.
  3. Try to fix it or get it fixed: Do your best to fix things before recycling them. Learn the ‘how-to’ on iFixIt and support the right-to-repair movement. Joining programs like the Restart Project and Repair Cafe near you is a great way to get things fixed and build community.
  4. Respect and nurture food: Wasting less food with services like Too Good To Go and Olio, or joining your local community garden goes a long way to fall in love with food again.
  5. Food, never waste: if you do not have access to a food scraps collection service, try to get your local authority to give you access to this service or find alternatives like composting at home or at a local garden.
  6. Recycle properly: Make sure you check your local authority’s guidelines for recycling so your precious recycling does not become landfill waste. Here is Camden’s.
  7. Reduce consumption: Only buy products that you truly need so you do not create unnecessary consumption and waste.
  8. Find some help when needed: It is simple to chat with a neighbour or to go on social media groups local to you and ask to borrow things. Doing this will save you some money and build your community around you.

Energy

  1. Energy from waste, well done, responsible, fair: Do your best to oppose incinerators (or energy-from-waste) projects, like the expansion of the Edmonton incinerator, that does not comply with the UK CEP nor with correct filtration and separation practices. This particular project and others are unfair and unsustainable. Check the Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Campaign
  2. Save energy and stay warm (Camden Council): You can improve the energy efficiency in your home and reduce your energy bills at the same time. Some more resources by the Camden Council here.
  3. Find help from your local authority (Camden Council): Camden Energy efficiency grants and services provide resources to help homeowners make their properties more energy efficient.

Community Circular Economy aims to make space for everyone to take part in the transformation to a more sustainable future. Camden Friends of the Earth will continue sharing ways of making CE more accessible and practical for all of us. Stay tuned, share ideas and love with us on social media and our contact email.

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