What is Circular Living®, a Circular Lifestyle?

 Photo Credit: Lauren Frentz 

Photo Credit: Lauren Frentz 

Circular Living® focuses on reducing our pollution footprint through the redesign of our consumer mindset. In Circular Living® we think about where things are coming from, how they are designed/made, how they are being used, where they are going, and what impact they will have on the the health and wellbeing of people and the earth. Viewing the world and our choices through a circular (holistic) lens helps us connect with the earth, connect with ourselves and one another, and find positive creative ways to protect what we love.

As all life on our planet is connected, interdependent, and moves through cycles of life, death and rebirth, I've created the term "Circular Living” because it best represents my way of being in the world. I like respecting all life on this earth and living as holistically as I can--like a circle, like the planet, and closin' the loop. We are not separate form the earth, yet we have separated ourselves from it. Instead of modeling our economy after nature (circular) where everything is able to be safely resumed and turned back into a vital resource, we have chosen a model of extraction, exploitation, pollution, & disposal (linear). We rely on the planet for our survival and happiness and have taken so much from the earth without giving much back. This is a call to action to change our consumer habits! 

A Circular Lifestyle is expressed differently by everyone, and it takes on new meaning as we grow. Right now, Circular Living® in my life means giving my best effort to not send trash to the landfill, or add new plastics into the waste cycle. It means becoming fully aware of how animal agriculture is the leading cause of pollution (climate change). A Circular Lifestyle helps me live with more intention and mindfulness. I’ve learned to shop secondhand first, reuse what I have, and only buy what I need. I’ve noticed that I get outside more often to go walking, hiking, biking, and I eat healthier. I’m ever more appreciative of the beauty of this incredible planet we all share. Living a Circular Lifestyle for me means making all my own body, cleaning and wellness products, because my ingredients are safe for the body and the planet.

Circular Living is a path of self development, and as I continue to live this way, I know there will be other causes that I adopt which might result in new behavior changes. Most recently, I’m boycotting the Palm Oil industry. A Circular Lifestyle is not a competition or about perfection, but is inclusive. It's about baby steps and doing what we can! Progress not perfection! We all come from different ways of being in the world, and there isn't  "one way" to reduce our impact on the planet. Everyone has something to offer, a creative way in which we can reduce our waste. Read More.

What is Waste?

Waste comes in many forms and I don't believe that all waste is bad. Humans and animals have an excretory system designed to excrete waste - it's a part of life. Animals subsisting off nature make waste (poop) which is then integrated back into the soil where it's serves a vital purpose in helping new life grow. This can't be said for all animal waste though. For example, cows being pumped full of antibiotics, hormones, and fed a diet of GMO corn and soy have toxic manure that sits in giant lagoons and contaminates and pollutes our drinking water. So, what's important is the composition of the waste product and that there be a system that resumes it and turns it back into a resource. Nature's system is fullproof, ours is not. I define the not so good waste as anything that will pollute the environment and our bodies (plastic, trash, greenhouse gas emissions, chemical-run off, etc.), and any resource that we misuse (using water and electricity in excess, letting food spoil, etc.). The goal is to drastically reduce the waste that pollutes our planet and our bodies and effectively reduce and responsibly manage the resources we use, while also redesigning the system to mirror the circular cycles of nature. Check out my post on the three tiers of waste

What is Trash?

             The contents of my trash jar. 

            The contents of my trash jar. 

I’ve come to define trash as anything that cannot be reused, recycled, and will ultimately end up in the landfill, the ocean, or as a deadly meal for an animal. Some trash can be hard to avoid, like receipts, produce stickers or the little pieces of plastic that are used to attach price tags to clothing. I used to collect this trash in a mason jar (for about two years) but I no longer do this. The jar was a useful accountability and learning tool when I first started reducing my trash footprint; however, it has served it's purpose and was never a full representation of my trash footprint as I go to the doctor, dentist, and occasionally get tattooed. Even though I bring all my own jars and reusable bags when shopping (makes a difference!), I'm aware that everything we buy has a trash footprint somewhere up stream. We are not separate from the waste associated with our consumer choices. 

Nearly Plastic Free:

 This is part of my  primary waste  footprint as of October, 2016. I began transitioning to a Circular lifestyle in March, 2015 and severely reduced my  primary waste  in August, 2015.

This is part of my primary waste footprint as of October, 2016. I began transitioning to a Circular lifestyle in March, 2015 and severely reduced my primary waste in August, 2015.

I’m as plastic-free as I can be. There are a few items that I still buy in glass packaging that have recyclable plastic parts on them, like essential oils which I use for all my DIY body, wellness, and cleaning products

I stopped supporting the plastics industry, because plastic is not part of natures food chain, meaning it will never biodegrade or be resumed by the earth. Plastic is made from petroleum, natural gas, and chemicals and its production is toxic for people, animals, and the planet. There is BPA, antimony, lead, cadmium, styrene, and other harmful chemicals in plastics that leach into our food and water, or off -gas into the air we breathe. Wildlife and natural habitats are severely compromised and destroyed because of plastic pollution. Plastic is a product of our current Linear economy which focuses on single-use and disposability. Read More. 

What Does Precycle and Upcycle Mean?

While recycling is a much better option than sending waste to the landfill, it's not the ultimate goal or answer to changing our trash habits. Making decisions to reduce recycling by precycling and then upcycling things you already have is a good step before discarding. Precycling means coming up with creative ways to prevent waste. For example, bringing your own reusable cloth bags to buy bulk foods, fruits, and veggies instead of using "recyclable" plastic ones. Upcycling (repurposing) means transforming materials that would otherwise be thrown away into something that has a new established value and purpose. For example, I like rescuing newspaper from the recycling and using it to wrap gifts! It's kind to give things another chance.