By Maria Paz Galarraga
The current dominating economic system in the world is based on a linear economic model. This is an unsustainable system focused on the nonstop exploitation of raw materials to produce single-use products. For the last 200 years, industrialization shaped our economy into a system of cheap production, low durability, and single-use objects. We live in a world where businesses have mastered the linear economic model, yet a new menace has arisen. Given our growing population, the demand for raw materials has increased to a point where it is no longer sustainable. It is just now that we have come to realize that raw materials are limited and so given a finite number of materials states face economic, diplomatic, and environmental issues. To avoid any future dilemmas a new economic model is gaining strength. A circular economic model is a production and consumption system focused on sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling. Circular economic models are aimed at increasing the life cycle of products. Different from single-use items, the circular economy extends its period of use by repairing, refurbishing, or recycling. By doing so, the materials are kept longer within the economy creating further value for them. This new economic model not only reduces waste to its minimum but aims at increasing innovation and economic growth.
Slowly but steadily the world has started to move towards this new circular economic model. For instance, Vinted is an innovative company arising within the European region and North America. Vinted is a peer-to-peer marketplace focused on the selling and buying of secondhand fashion. The company was launched in 2008 and has been regularly growing. Currently, it holds 15 marketplaces across Europe and North America, selling and swapping items allowing people to monetize their old wardrobe. The marketplace is an app-based platform where individuals are encouraged to engage with each other allowing one-to-one communication between seller and buyer. The summation of items on the website is free of charge yet it is necessary to fill in a questionnaire about the product. This questionnaire allows the website to sort out the item given its quality and value. One can see the resale of all items from high street fashion to vintage to high-end, across womenswear, menswear, kids wear, and home. Vinted works under the concept that items that are no longer used could earn value instead of throwing them away.
With an appropriate marketing strategy and the exploitation of social media, Vinted has become a successful platform empowering the user to pursue an ecological alternative. The company comes from a simple idea aimed at a grand purpose. Its success is attributed to the simplicity of its design as it is accessible to everyone. From the start, the owners had in mind the idea of making secondhand clothes the first choice worldwide. If everyone would follow the sustainable circular model Vinted follows, the world would improve greatly. This is only one solution for one specific industry. The fashion industry produces an extreme amount of waste, estimating around 92 million tons of textile waste. Usually, 30% of the clothes produced are not sold and instead thrown away. To avoid major loss the circularity of this business extends the life of the clothes, reducing carbon contamination and waste of water by 25%.
There are many benefits to this new economic model, many of which are essential for the survival of our planet. Transforming a business into a circular economy could mean saving money and allowing higher profit. It will further increase the competitiveness of each brand and increase innovation. We will no longer see single-use, basic products but rather, long-lasting innovative creations. The European Union invests in circular economies as the future depends on them. Investments boost economic growth and further improve the security of the supply of raw materials allowing production. It might be a change not all companies are willing to make yet there are already some that expose a positive change. GoMore is a company that offers a service enabling drivers to invite people to ride their cars to reduce the number of cars on the street. This company approaches traffic problems ecologically and circularly. On the other hand, Backmarket and Refurbed are two companies focusing on the reselling of used phones. Technology waste is constantly increasing, therefore, these companies offer properly repaired phones as a first option. All these companies are successful businesses offering a positive solution to a crucial problem. If we want our world to last, we should all be willing to change our habits. Vinted, GoMore, Backmarket, and Refurbed all display the success of circularity in business.
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Online market and community for fashion items and more: Vinted. Online marketplace for fashion items and more: Vinted. (n.d.). Retrieved January 10, 2023, from https://ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-examples/vinted
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