20 May 2024

Behind The Buzzwords: Circularity & Sustainability

Rachel Kan


Guest Writer: Rachel Sheila Kan of Real Circularity.

Rachel is a fashion circularity specialist and co-founder of Real Circularity™, a place to find out no nonsense, easy, accessible bitesize pieces about the complex application of  ‘’The Circular Economy’’ for your business.


What is Circularity?

Simply Circularity is a concept, an idea. The Concept of Circularity in the product sense is to create something that will have been designed to create continuous use and new value creation over and over either in the same industry or into another. 


How is Circularity different to Sustainability?

Circularity and Sustainability work together like a team. Circularity is the act of making something that can go back into the system over and over, creating systems for it. (This can be in the natural cycle or the technical cycle, more about those in future blogs). Sustainability is about making sure that even in the process of creating Circularity we are not polluting the world, extracting from or toxifying its inhabitants. They go hand in hand.


You can have circularity without it being sustainable. What? Yes, a company or solution may well technically be circular but not considered sustainable in our “whole systems” perspective. Which is why in our work we build on the theory of circularity with our real-world approach and experience bridging into “sustainable circularity”. We work on real time in place iterations and business plans to suit all sizes.


In past centuries the “linear” take - make - waste approach has led to the degradation of our world, the extraction on wealth, social systems, and natural resources. Creating waste in epic proportions! So, imagine a world now where there was no such thing as waste! We re-created everything into new value in a sustainable way! Just like nature does all by itself. Better still what if like nature, everything that we created both as a product and a business was creating benefits both environmentally, economically and socially in infinite cycles? Lofty thoughts but not at all science fiction - all we lack is the intention to start.


In many instances, we could bring more revenue streams from new innovations and create capital for the next product innovation, that we could work on designing your business structures for a future where new value in your original product can be additional. It’s now time for more businesses to take ‘theory into reality.’  Trends are showing that there’s a huge customer sentiment, that there’s a big market shift going towards re-use & re-wear for example. There is room for real solutions in the new space of circularity not to mention new legislations coming into place that will move business towards circularity anyway.


NB: Reuse, repair, and re-wear are not Circularity on their own - it is for sure a part of it in a well thought out system.


Get on board now & be the forward thinkers in this space.  Just like you would a trend. Now the trend is no longer what designer brands are showing in Paris or New York (though many are leading the way already). The trend is now to be considered in your approach. Add circularity to your range plan & we promise you won’t look back.


We are looking for industry thought-leaders to feature as guest contributors across our network. If you'd like to be involved drop us a line on LinkedIn


About Real Circularity

With over 4 decades combined applied work inside fashion and the wider product space such as interiors, office and FMCG we are best placed to work on, coach and advise business on the application of Circularity and what we refer to as ‘’Real Circularity’’ – an approach that works with business, systems, economy and product to work on Real approaches from Theory into Reality.

With co-founders Ken Alston & Rachel Sheila Kan.  Ken worked with the originators of Cradle to Cradle™ & with multinationals to iterate the early work in circular applications... Rachel has been working in fashion for 25 years in design & development and into the last decade in sustainable and regenerative development.

Original sources

The concept was created by William Mcdonough and Dr Michael Braungart in their original book and pilot projects under the name Cradle to Cradle™ in the early 90s based on original EU reports. Subsequently Ellen Macarthur Foundation regenerated this concept into what we know today as ‘’Circularity’’.


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