You already know what we do here at Toiletries Amnesty – we help get spare toiletries into the hands of those who need them – but did you know that what we’re doing is actually part of something bigger called The Circular Economy? We’re one of many organisations that operate within it, but at Toiletries Amnesty we don’t just want to be part of the Circular Economy conversation, we want to hold the mic! Which is all a roundabout way of letting you know some news: we’re launching Circular Economy Awareness Week, which will take place in March 2024.
But what the term ‘Circular Economy’ actually mean? Let’s be clear on a definition.
What is the Circular Economy?
It’s actually very simple. The Circular Economy might sound like a fancy term but all it really means is a system that aims to eliminate waste and pollution by keeping products and materials in circulation – using products until they can be used no more. Every possible use should be exhausted before it’s taken to landfill – the very last resort.
Some examples of the Circular Economy doing its thing
The Circular Economy is in operation every time you maintain an object rather than send it to landfill. An example might be showing your bike some love by keeping it in good operational nick and on the road, rather than abandoning it and buying a new one.
The Circular Economy is also packing a punch every time you reuse an object rather than discard and buy another by default. An example would be using the same canvas shopping bag over and over and over rather than buying a plastic one every time you nip to the shops. Three nips a week? That’s 156 bags per year!
The Circular Economy is grateful every time something is refurbished. An example might be to sustainably regenerate an existing building rather than give it the wrecking-ball-and-start-again-from-scratch treatment.
The Circular Economy is also one step closer to landfill elimination every time we recycle. We model recycling practice when we bother to accumulate all our used paper in one place, rather than just throw it in sheet by sheet with the rest of the kitchen waste. Put it in pole position for kerbside collection and it’s magically repulped and remade into more paper.
And lastly, composting provides another example of The Circular Economy doing its cyclical thing. Start a heap of teabags, add a good dose of veggie scraps, turn your back for a while, and bingo, it’s a recipe for fertiliser which you can gift back to your garden – prepping nature for regrowth.
So how does Toiletries Amnesty fit into the Circular Economy?
Toiletries Amnesty operates within the Circular Economy because by passing a toiletry item from the hands of someone who is not going to use it into the hands of someone who will, we’re extending an existing product’s lifecycle until every last drop of that product is consumed. We figure that by going the extra mile to put it in the hands of the right person, ie someone who can’t otherwise get hold of it – there’s an added win for humanity. Donor win, recipient win, planet win.
The Circular Economy and individual responsibility
Just because we’re doing some (or all) of the above already doesn’t mean we can sit back and polish our halos just yet. Because in truth, The Circular Economy doesn’t go full circle until there are relatively no new goods manufactured in the first place – because everything’s either built to last or designed with zero waste in mind. And there’s an awful long way to go until we get there! That circle still needs a mighty good shove on all fronts to make it go round. If you’re an individual and you want to play your part…
Maybe you could go on a mission to gather up your spare toiletries. If everyone in your community did the same, you could help hundreds (or thousands!) of people. Little acts add up to a great, big, change. Use our online directory to find an organisation near you that you could donate to.
If you’re a business (or if you know one) with some major or minor connection to the toiletries sector (a magazine who receive endless samples? A manufacturer working on repackaging/end of line?), you can get in touch with us to help redirect your waste to those in need.
And come March, please get hashtag happy. It’s #CircularEconomyAwarenessWeek!