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At Only Natural, we’re committed to supporting and engaging in the circular economy.

The circular economy is a sustainable and innovative economic model that seeks to redefine the traditional linear ‘take, make, dispose‘ model of production and consumption. Instead, it promotes a system where resources are used for as long as possible so that the maximum value is extracted from them while they’re in use. It also favours products and materials that can be recovered at the end of their lifecycle and regenerated for other uses.

How does the circular economy work?

The circular economy can be visualised as a loop with the following stages.

i) Cut waste and pollution out of the production model: this starts with the design of products. In a circular economy, products are durable, easy to repair and recyclable.

ii) Keep products and materials in use: create items that last longer and then find ways to repurpose or recycle them rather than discarding.

iii) Regenerate natural systems: restore and regenerate natural capital, for example, by returning valuable nutrients to the soil or purifying air and water.

How can design business contribute to the circular economy?

They can do so in the following ways:

  • Product design: creating products that are modular, durable and recyclable.
  • Devise sustainable business models: this could include leasing instead of selling or offering products as a service.
  • Incorporate recycled natural materials in their products: use recycled or renewable materials in manufacturing.
  • Develop take-back and recycling programs: this enables businesses to recover valuable materials and reduce waste.
  • Collaboration: partner with suppliers, customers and even competitors to create a circular supply chain.
  • Educate and engage with consumers: teach them about the value and benefits of a circular model.

What are the benefits to the natural materials industry?

There are several key benefits, including:

i) Cost savings: by recycling and reusing materials, businesses can reduce procurement costs. Natural materials as an alternative to forever plastics make sound, ecological sense.

ii) New revenue streams: by repurposing natural materials, design applications of natural materials can be discovered, in turn creating new markets and revenue opportunities.

iii) Innovation: rethinking products and processes can drive innovation and market differentiation.

iv) Resilience: a circular approach can make supply chains more resilient by reducing market dependency on scarce resources.

v) Improved brand image: by using natural, renewable resources and a circular model, brands can show commitment to sustainability and enhance company reputation and customer loyalty.

What are the benefits to the wider world?

There are many, but we think these are the most important:

i) Environmental protection: using natural materials reduces waste, pollution and reliance on oil-derived products.

ii) Economic growth: our approach to the circular economy can stimulate economic growth by creating new markets and job opportunities in recycling and manufacturing.

iii) Resource efficiency: using natural, renewable resources ensures they are not wasted and creates minimal environmental impact.

iv) Societal well-being: by reducing pollution and the generation of harmful materials, it can lead to a cleaner environment and improved public health.

Explore the rest of the Only Natural website to out more about all things circular, sustainable and natural.

Working with our partners at Arts Thread to develop lifelong learning and career opportunities for students of fashion and design. Our partnership provides the opportunity to compete on a world stage, participate in industry led workshops, set up an outstanding portfolio and gain access to the resources that will kickstart careers in fashion and design.