Sustainability and the self

Recently, sustainability has been associated a lot to a green economy, an economy that is CO2 neutral up to CO2 negative. A CO2 neutral economy can happen, if carbon is captured during the production, usetime and end of life of a product. Most efficient are therefore products that are made from biological materials only, like a bamboo straw. A bamboo straw can be cut of the original bamboo plant, dried, treated, sold and used. The CO2 print hereby varies between CO2 negative up to positive, depending on the treatment, shipments and other processes involved.

The real CO2 print becomes more difficult for products that are processed heavily and consist of multiple product components like a shoe or jacket or many other basic products like hair dye and toys for kids. Many of these products consist of synthetic materials or materials that do not biodigrade at the end of their life. To make these products more ecological or more specific CO2 – sustainable, different type of processes might be used or product materials might be replaced with others i.e. plastic toys with wood toys.

So much stuff to rent. Why actually?

Regardless of the business model, consumption often continues to be promoted. Such an example is a “sustainable” business model in which consumers are encouraged to buy an ecological product such as a bamboo straw, but do not know whether the bamboo is harvested in respect to its necessarily growth time. Another example is a buisness model that makes you want to rent or lease products, although you never needed them before to begin with (i.e. expensive clothes or toys).

Why should the self be more recognized in the current sustainability agenda?

The self-concept is a general term used to refer to how someone thinks about, evaluates or perceives themselves. To be aware of oneself is to have a concept of oneself.

Baumeister (1999) provides the following self-concept definition:

“The individual’s belief about himself or herself, including the person’s attributes and who and what the self is”.

Carl Rogers (1959) believes that the self-concept has three different components:

• The view you have of yourself (self-image)

• How much value you place on yourself (self-esteem or self-worth)

• What you wish you were really like (ideal-self)

The impact of consumption on the self

Regardless, why or what we consume, it often relates to us – of course it does, since we consume it. However, media, advertisment etc. often distracts us from our true self and therefore encourage a desire to take on an identity by consuming something that does not reflect our true self. Our attention shifts towards a “fictive ideal-self”. An example is wanting to look like a celebrity , someone on advertisment, etc and therefore buying new clothes, dying hair or buying a product to align more with the desired persons’ trait. However, we are not that person, we are ourselves. We will never be that person and likewise, that person will never be us.

Desire for the fictive ideal supports a society less satisfied

Often, we are influenced by media, by friends, culture and societys’ expectations how we should be, what we should do, how we should look like and how we should behave. Many impulses that distract us from who we really are and want to be. Impulses that often lead to greater levels of dissatsifaction as we struggle to think about whether what we have and how we are is enough, or if we don’t need more or changes to be fullfilled.

After the point of consumption , and once realized that the image we created with the idea of the fictive ideal of us, stopped satisfying, the cycle of consumption, re-enters. In addition, other mental health problems might arise, because an image created does not align with the image of one-self. Think about advertisement that rewards or promotes white-caucasion skin types or even hollywood that (can) promote cultural stereotypes. What happens is that a society is created that does not thrive, but a society with wish-full thinking that imagines to thrive with a product that supports an idenittiy or part of it not true to themselves. That can happen, when buying or renting or changing something, that does not actually make happy.

An example is advertisement that illustrates a white rich man with a huge house and a loving wife. The image might create the perception that because of his white skin, a demanding job and a huge house his wife loves him. Because of that, one with darker skin might want to have whiter skin, wants to buy a house etc. In doing so the connection to the real-self gets lost and in doing so also the opportunity to identify success and happinnes for themselves (small job, free time, happinness to attract happinnes)

How can the true self be promoted more in the current sustainability agenda?

Feet are made for walking, jackets made for protection, blankets used to protect from cold, hair care products made to nurture them, body cream to make our skin less dry, to protect it. Food is made to keep us healthy, to connect us to others. Other products are made for comfort, help us sleep, help to support us. Many products weren’t made to sell a look or an image, but because of a fundamental function they support(ed).

A sustainability society or a sustainable industrial agenda, therefore needs to emphasize more to promote functionality over an image sold and a society that allowes for the production of healthy products, that are kept and not consumed to be trashed. This is possible if the self is satisfied with what it consumes. Therefore, products should provide a supporting function, align with the consumers true feelings and desires and likewise be accessible to a wide range of customers i.e. through product/market targeted business models (i.e. rental of healthy product to students, elderlies etc.). Doing so will allow society to thrive, be more happy, be more inclusive and to create an ideal image of the self, while also saving much of that CO2 .

Who cares whether you have bold or gray hair? Imagine time spent worrying , money spend on hair dressors vs. time spend on something fun and money spend to support that fun activity 😀

Resources/ Inspirations

Delmas, M. A., & Burbano, V. C. (2011). The drivers of greenwashing. California management review54(1), 64-87.

Fein, S., & Spencer, S. J. (1997). Prejudice as self-image maintenance: Affirming the self through derogating others. Journal of personality and Social Psychology73(1), 31.

Frosh, S. (1991). Identity crisis: Modernity, psychoanalysis and the self. Macmillan International Higher Education.

Levänen, J., Uusitalo, V., Härri, A., Kareinen, E., & Linnanen, L. (2021). Innovative recycling or extended use? Comparing the global warming potential of different ownership and end-of-life scenarios for textiles. Environmental Research Letters16(5), 054069.

Muller, J. (1985). Lacan’s mirror stage. Psychoanalytic Inquiry5(2), 233-252.

Velenturf, A. P., & Purnell, P. (2021). Principles for a sustainable circular economy. Sustainable Production and Consumption27, 1437-1457.

Emotions and Assumptions

Often a sentence is said or a statment is made that leads to frustration. Frustration as a “feeling” is of course okay. Likewise frustration can become a barrier if the feeling of it remains, if it is dealt with in silence and is later expressed in ways of anger. Anger then can become expressed in indirect ways such as gossip , withdrawl from work, dissatisfaction or loss of motivation. Anger can also be expressed in direct ways such as by making a statement very personal and likewise becoming very defensive or even insulting. Regardless of whether anger is internalized and indirectly or directly expressed, suppresing it and not being able to address what has been said and how one felt about it likely leads to another cascade of unsatisfying feelings and behaviours.

How can one statement create intensive feelings?

We might listen and understand an entire statement that has been made, but at the same time our brain creates a network of hidden messages that lie within each word said and therfore creates an automated desire for responses as another person speaks or writes. Because of that , a neutral statement made, can create an intensive emotional outburst (of coure not always) and therefore feelings of anger and frustration. A statement from a colleque that could be as basic as ” I saw you left home earlier yesterday” could be scandalous.

What do we base assumptions on and why?

Each of us is born and raised as an individual. That means that each of us learned to feel, to behave , to see, to react and to communicate differently. Because of that each brain is wired differently with different neuron-networks that manifast our knowledge and behaviours. This also means that each of us has different feelings and associations with specific words or “cues”. An example is that while someone has happy feelings related to home like “relaxing, cosy, loving, comfortable” someone else might have feelings such as “pressure, unhealthy relationships, colorless, sad”. Likewise, depending on the day, different associations might be made to home and the meaning given to it.

What causes overreaction? Because each of us has different experiences and different associations with a specific word, we can experience what has been said in different emotions. The statement ” I saw you left home earlier yesterday” could lead to a feeling of sadness or anger if the recevier of this message creats negative associations to each word. An example could be that this person needed to leave early in another job because of an emergency “at home” but was criticzed for that. Because of that this statement could re-create feelings of a situation in the past and therefore can cause distress and anger. Likewise another person might have had different or more positive experiences with “leaving early” or “home” and perceives the statement as neutral.

Think about the different x1-x9 being different words or phrases and h1-h9 being different experiences and feelings related to them. Y then represents our final reaction, or assumption that might be misleading to what was meant to begin with.

How can we reduce making assumptions?

  1. Listen carefuly to what has been said and think about what has been said exactly
  2. Think about how this statement made you feel.
  3. Then think about where these feelings are comming from.
  4. Are these feelings based on an experience in the past and if yes, how do they apply to the current situation?
  5. If you are unsure, you can also ask for clarifications and what is meant with a certain question or statement. This helps to see the others persons’ frame and intention can navigate away from previous made assumptions.
  6. Once it is clear what has been said, how your past might have framed you into thinking a specific way, its your time to respond (if you want to).

Is there such a thing as a proper response? There is no accurate way of responding and each response is context related. To me important is to understand your feelings and to communicate in such a way that it makes you feel most comfortable and the other person undertand;

  • If a question or a statement made you feel uncomfortable you can say so. ” I left earlier for personal reasons and prefer not to talk about it.”
  • You may explain why it made you feel uncomfortable. Sometimes this helps to create a mutual understanding. “I feel uncomfortable talking about it, because in the past I left earlier for work for an emergency and I got criticzed for it. I am worried it happens again.”
  • You may also ask for clarifications “Why did you ask me that? What exactly do you mean with that statement or question?”
  • You may also respond freely and express yourself how this question made you feel like ” I left home earlier because my brother needed help. Your question makes me feel …., because ……”

Emotions, assumptions and sustainability?

It is very easy to make assumptions or believe to “know something” based on past experiences (that’s quite natural to human survival), but sometimes we don’t know for sure and because of that engage in unhealthy beahviours. Again, that could be overconsumption, quitting a job or ending a relationship for the wrong reasons, being sad about something for weeks etc. . To understand and to address what we feel and why, can ultimately help us change a situation and create a new frame to benefit from.

Playing on circular music

Did you know that music can have a beneficial effect on brain chemicals such as dopamine, which is linked to feelings of pleasure, and oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone.” And there is moderate evidence that music can help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Besides these there are also other benefits like improved mental performance, coordination, reading and listening skills. And honestly, doesn’t it feel great to create music all by yourself – a way of expressing yourself and feeling it?

I

Unfortunately, the ability to create music – the specific type of music- we dream of can be exclusive. And that is such a shame, because music frees, music connects and music makes us feel alive. It makes us dance, it makes us cry, it makes us smile, it makes us fall in and out of love, it makes us excited, it creates a unique atmosphere, a rythm, a bond.

Why is it exclusive? There is a great variety of music instruments and each of them is made of different materials , with a different level of difficulty and different costs to create a unique sound. Of course, it is possible to use vegetables or simple sticks to create sounds, but these might never create the sound of a violine. A well produced violine may cost at least 1000 Euros up to hundred of thousands of Euros, depending on the materials used. And this keeps the dream, your dream, a girls and boys dream, an adults dream or the dream of anyone with a low budget always a dream. In reality, this dream should be lived.

Could renting change that? Yes! With 30 years, I decided to rekindle with my childhood dream and signed up for a trial violine class. Unfortauntely, I did not feel inclined to continue the dream, because the price of a violine appeared quite shocking to me. It was then my teacher who recommended me to rent a violine from a nearby store, that offers also repair and maintenance service throughout the use time.

What’s their business model like? Depending on the quality of the violine, I pay between 15 and 19 Euros a month rent. This price also includes a small insurance fee (2 Euros) for any type of damage that could happen. I need to rent it for at least 3 months and then cancel it in advance. If I decide to keep it, the price of one year rent (around 160 Euros per year) can be deducted from the total purchasing price.

Because I rent it, it is expected that I care for the product. While I have no understanding of violines yet other than , good once are made of wood and the bow of horse hair, maintenance guidelines help me care for it and of course my teacher too (I hope : ) ). If I have any problems, I can also always contact the store for help.

What does this mean to me? Really the world, because I had always been fascinated by the sound of violines, and always viewed money as a huge obstacle. Likewise I was so pleased to learn about the environmental benefits of my local produced product and why quality matters so much. Circularity therefore does not appeal to plastic and fashion only, but also to many other sectors that make life livable and yet so joyful. I want more of it : )

Trauma, Healing and Resources for Victims of Gender-based Vioelence in Papua New Guinea

Originally written for Morobe Development Foundation

By: Ann-Cathrin Jöst and Gabby Richardson

When we are born, we are dependent on our mother or another caretaker for survival. As an infant we cannot express ourselves other than through crying. Therefore, we rely on our caretaker to understand what our crying means and what needs should be fulfilled. Needs are different; a need to sleep, a need for engagement, a need for nutrients or a need for a diaper change, a need for a mothers’ soothing touch or voice, a need to feel her heartbeat, a need for care or an open cry for attention if the baby experiences stress and pain.

Some of these needs are very basic and essential for our body to survive and thrive and some of these needs are essential for healthy development of the mind and spirit. Sometimes these needs cannot be fulfilled and our ability to survive is threatened. To survive, we will adjust to a situation as best we can.  An example is a caretaker’s difficulty to translate a cry into a specific need and because of that the caretaker may ignore or punish the baby’s crying. Due to this experience baby might learn that crying is bad and will internalize that pain and stop crying. This may carry on throughout childhood.

When we were still babies or even children, this was an effective survival strategy which saved ourselves from punishment or being ignored. Internalizing emotions that were upsetting to others was our only chance to avoid being hurt and possibly accepted and loved by our caretakers. We might have also adjusted to their behavior, their beliefs and catered our needs around theirs.

Later in life and as we grow up into mature adults, this internalization of emotions may be reflected onto ourselves through self-harm, the friends we choose or how we are able to deal with conflict in social and work situations. We might even actively choose relationships or stay in relationships that are not nurturing, because we are used to our needs not being fulfilled. It scares us, that we could be loved for who we really are- that our needs and desires could be lovingly satisfied by another individual.

Breaking this cycle is difficult, because we are used to it and so we keep on wondering “Why me? Why am I attracted to a specific group of people who I know are unhealthy for me? Why do I stay in unhealthy relationships? Why are my needs not fulfilled? I better stay silent.”  While breaking the cycle is difficult, breaking the cycle is also possible. It is possible, when we think of who we are. “What are the things I like? What makes me happy? What makes me sad ? What makes me angry? What do I need? What makes me feel really loved? Who can I be around to be myself? What type of behavior makes me unhappy? How would I loved to be cared for and most of all, how can I best care for myself?”.

Image source: click here

Sometimes, the answer to these questions can be sad and that is okay. It is okay, because allowing us to feel emotions that we are used to hiding is one big step forward in our own healing journey.  In answering these and many more questions, we learn that every emotion is valid and every emotion has equal importance. Emotions are like feelings and when they are suppressed (e.g.: not being allowed to cry) we internalize them and because of that act in ways or engage in ways that are unhealthy to us, such as drinking too much alcohol, doing drugs or becoming violent. It could also be something simpler like avoiding someone or running away from a conflict. Now understanding and accepting our emotions, can help us heal because we can identify a need that is important to us or might have never been fulfilled or lived.

However, it can be difficult to allow us to feel every emotion, because we have been told we shouldn’t do so or some emotions like “anger” are labelled as “bad”. Anger is only bad if we act on it, but feeling it, is absolutely valid : ). Accepting it and feeling it is okay, because it can also help us understand why we feel such a way. Has someone done something that we are directly affected by and if yes, what can we do to change the situation? If we cannot change the situation, what can we do to get out of it?

Resources for Victims of Gender-based Violence in PNG

Image source: click here

Survival strategies and the internalization of emotions can be intensively felt and experienced by individuals suffering from trauma, abuse and violence. This is especially evident amongst women and girls in Papua New Guinea (PNG) who experience staggering rates of gender-based violence (GBV). The Human Rights Watch Papua New Guinea 2020 report highlights that over two thirds of women in PNG have experienced some form of GBV in their lifetime. There are a variety of factors that contribute to the rampant GBV situation in PNG, some of which include strict gender norms and roles, a male dominant society, forms of bride price exchange and tribal conflict. Though it is important to remember feelings of imprisonment, lack of self-worth and empowerment contribute to women’s vulnerability in abusive relationships and impede on their ability to heal. For these women it can be extra difficult to leave a threatening situation due to economic dependence and fear of resisting expectations rooted in tradition and male power.

If you are a woman living in PNG, know that there are resources and support available that can help you begin a quest for personal healing and to leave a situation that has and might still be unhealthy for you. There are several resources available such as counseling services and assistance to overcome and escape abusive situations and violence. Femili PNG has several case management centers across PNG to assist survivors of family and sexual assault. Their contact information may be found below:

Femili PNG Lae Case Management Centre

  • Email: info@femilipng.org
  • Phone: +675 7091 4027 or +675 472 8904
  • All phones are answered Mon-Fri 9:30am-5pm

Femili PNG Port Moresby Case Management Centre

  • Phone for Bel isi subscribers: +675 7055 4401
  • Other enquiries/assistance: +675 7916 9063
  • All phones are answered Mon-Fri 9:30am-5pm

Femili PNG Goroka Outpost

  • Phone: +675 72179445
  • All phones are answered Mon-Fri 9:00am-4pm

There is also a toll-free  1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain on 7150 8000 where victims of family and sexual violence may get in contact with a counsellor from any place in PNG between 7am-7pm seven days a week. This is operated by Childfund PNG.

Just need someone to listen to you? Have a look at “7 Cups”, an online platform that provides free listening services to people in need anonymously.

Health care and support services for sexual and family violence victims may be found at the Family Support Centre at Port Moresby General Hospital. Their phone number is +675 324 8245. Note: Family Support Centres may be found at all provincial hospitals in PNG.

The organization “Youth For Change PNG”, an organization which has done a lot of work in West New Britain province, promotes the health and well-being of individuals and aims to create positive change by addressing gender-based, family and sexual forms of violence in PNG. “Youth For Change PNG” focuses on healing victims of such violence through trauma informed workshops, educational approaches and practice programs grounded in culturally specific strategies and beliefs. Please contact “Youth for Change PNG” Director Lydia Kailap via WhatsApp at +675 7832 6826 and via email: lydiakailap@gmail.com.

In order for survivors of violence and abuse to leave toxic relationships and situations, they must also feel independent. Economic opportunities have proven important in assisting survivors of family and sexual violence in PNG. There are several programs across PNG which focus on empowering women through agricultural activities, such as the “Transformative Agriculture and Enterprise Development Program” (TADEP). The “PNG Women’s Business Resource Centre (WBRC)” also aims to assist women in running their business, fosters women empowerment through providing free business coaching, entrepreneurial training, networking and mentorship services.← PREVIOUS

On every emotion being valid – SDG3

For the many years of my 30 years of life, I imagined there would be that one emotion to aim for during and at the end of the day. That would be the emotion that many of us describe as happiness. I’d basically become a fan of this particular emotion and I loved reading happiness quotes as well. There are of course other emotions too, but emotion “happinness” received long my greatest attention. Happiness brought me joy, but happiness also brought me sadness as I learned that I didn’t give my other emotions enough attention up to the point that I felt they are neither much useful or something to acknowledge much. Sometimes I was even annoyed or felt bad for having them. Bascially I felt that feeling annoyed (as an emotion) was annoying. Of course it is not.

Why does this matter? Because, whenevever often I didn’t put on a happy face (of course not always, because that would be exhausting for my facial muscles), I was worried something was wrong with me up to the point of feeling bad for not being happy. And I think social media kind of strenghtens that. There aren’t much profile picture (FB, IG,Twitter, TikTok,..), where people use angry or sad profile pictures. Most often people use one picture, which often has one emotion. It does so only, because it is super difficult to merge multiple emotions into one facial expression. I just tried and I failed. I know you’ll try out too now.

Faking a smile, also attracts others with a fake smile. What if you were real and it would attract others that were just as real? Love and connection : )

Now, I do not know peoples emotions based on their pictures, but many profile pictures show smiles. And I would associate smiling to something that illustrates happiness. For instance, when someone makes a joke or I am actually happy, I smile and laugh. Of course noone always smiles, but when we talk to each other, we tend to smile as well to emphasize with each other. Why can we not smile? Is that something bad? I ask this question, because sometimes I feel like relaxing and not smiling and I had people questioning me why I wasn’t smiling and whether that meant I was not happy, if I was sad and if something happenend? I said ” No , everything is okay” , but likewise began smiling (very lightly ) and it was then okay and accepted.

.. Please worry and don’t be happy if you are not!

There are of course times, where I didn’t feel so happy and felt happy when I got to talk about my worries. However, most conversations ultimately embodied language like ” don’t worry, don’t be sad, be happy , don’t focus on the negative. ” Over time this began building up and I felt that feeling something else other than being happy wasn’t much validated, either by myself and likewise by others and for themselves. But it’s not true. Every emotion is valid and so important to experience and live.

Being and feeling is what makes us humans. It’s every emotion that we are entitled to feel and there is no wrong emotion. It’s okay to feel angry and its okay feel sad and its okay feel excited and its likewise okay to feel happy. Emotions are like the light spectrum. Only together they make life on earth possible. If we’d only let blue light waves enter the atmosphere, well we would not exist very well. Or we could think about a rainbow and its colors. If we’d only want it in our favorite color, well a rainbow would be quite colorless. And the same can be accounted for our emotions.

Why does this matter ? Sigmund Freud described it nicely ” unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways. ” Ultimately, unexpressing our emotions leads us to not being happy with ourselves but also our environment.

Then how can we be really happy ? Theres no definition on happiness and I do agree that happinnes comes from within. But it doesn’t come from putting a smile on your face or telling yourself to be happy, when you are not. It comes, when you are attuned with your feelings and when you can express them to yourself and others. Of course, there are different ways of expressing them and saying” Hey, I am angry at you” and then throwing a punsh into someones face or quitting work straight away is less ideal. But emotions help you understand what you need to feel better ” I am angry, because you came 15 minutes late without notifying me. Actually, I think I was worried about you. Could you call me the next time please? You are important to me. ” Understanding and expressing yourself also helps other people understanding you and gives each of you the opportunity to help and fullfill a need.

What does happiness have to do with sustainability ? Often we are less likely attuned with ourselves / our feelings, what we need and what actually makes us happy. Because of that we buy things or compensate suppressed feelings with behaviours that are ultimately not beneficial like overconsumption. Being more attunned with ourselves and our environment leads us to less likely engage in unsustainable behaviour. -> We thrive and so can our planet. #SDG3

Whats a sustainable circular business model? A license plate!

By the end of last year, a group of high school students, aged 15-16 approached me and asked, whether I could support their newly formed school company with 10 Euros. Those 10 Euros symbolized a small share in the company and I joyfully said yes and was excited to become shareholder for the first time in my life. I asked them ” What excactly am I shareholder of and what exactly is this part of ?” ” It is an extracurricular activity, supported from JUNIOR . At JUNIOR, high school students set up their own student company, distribute their products to customers and earn real money. learn what the reality of entrepreneurs looks like – by trying it out for ourselves.” “Super cool! What is your business like?” ” We make products from license plates that aren’t used anymore by their car owners. Our company is called UsedPlates3 – UP3 . ”

Allthough they already hinted into the direction of circularity by highlighting the concept of “waste to value”, little would I know that they would fully develop a sustainable circular business model over the next months. And little would I know how their small business idea would receive growing attention from different German newsoutlets. And most of all was I joyfully amazed, when I heard that their company and efforts had made it as far as to compete in a Germany wide student entrepreneurship competition.

Now, why am I that enthusiastic about their idea? It fully reflects not just a simple circular business model, but also a business model that is sustainable. So what’s a sustainable circular business model? To me that means that it is needs based.

First of all, many people need a car. Nowadays, a car might be almost as important as food. Something we likely cannot say no to, especially if we live rural and need to go to work. Even if we rented a car a la car-sharing, cars would still be needed. And with each car, a licence plate is needed as well. There is almost no expiration date to a licencse plate, yet each licence plate might have an end to its life such as when a car is not needed anymore.

There are of course many more needs based products. Such an example is clothing with the original aim to serve as protection from environmental hazards. However, many clothes nowadays are promoted in such a way that they do not fullfill this basic need anymore solely, but rather support the buying of new clothes that have little functional value. Let’s think of a pink glitter high heel instead of a boot that keeps our feet safe. In addition, fashion trends frequently change, particular by season and again, this encourages consumers to buy more and more, adding to the pile of sustainability disaster, form a social but also ecological perspective.

What purpose or need are these shoes fullfilling?

This differs to a licence plate, which again is needs based and therefore does not promote consumption of a new license plate to begin with. Because of that it is “sustainable” by origin. Now this product is also circular, because it can be transformed into a new product without having to recycle it. Recycling for instance, is linked to the lowest form of circularity, because a lot of energy is used to take materials apart and to transform them. A license plate on the other hand, can stay as it is , and only needs to be shaped into the desired end-product. “Only” to be used careful, because the students still create everything by hand and it takes quite some time.

What’s my favorite catch on their business model? That’s OMG that they had thought about the concept of “emotional durability” in their business model. Emotional durability bascially means that a consumer of a product feels strongly connected and therefore, wants to keep their product for as long as possible. That’s crucial if we talk about product life-cycle extension. What better product is there, than one made of a license plate of a car, with which the owner has experienced so many adventures and spent so much time with? I can’t think of one.

So you guys, your school, JUNIOR and most of all your amazing business UP3 super rock. You win my special sustainable circular business award 🙂 Interested to learn more about the work? Comment or message me and I will connect you.

Does circularity equal sustainability?

A circular business model adds onto a sustainable business model

I am a huge fan of the Circular Economy and business models for the Circular Economy, because they can help to capture the value of the product during and at the end of the life and likewise add on to the notion of “Sustainable Business Models”. Because materials and products “circle” , less pressure is put on the environment and therfore enable a more trustworthy notion of “sustainbility” i.e. producing in regards to a trees’ growth time without supporting deforestation. Such business models focus for instance on renting or leasing products. Renting out a product also stimulates the use of more durable “sustainable” materials to avoid repair costs. Although the price of production might increase, financial value is captured and returned over multiple renting periods.

Renting instead of buying

As example, instead of buying furniture for a few semesters (let’s think about students with a low budget), furniture could be rented and returned, instead of being thrown away at graduation. The latter happens frequently and had always amazed me as a student. Renting furniture, for instance, would put an empahsize on producing materials that are more durable and repairable and students or other customers likely take more care of it as they otherwise might have to pay a repair fee (just like when renting an apartment with a deposit). In following such a business model, less pressure is put on the environment i.e. trees, as products stay longer in the system. More happiness might also be provided to students, who can now afford to have furniture at home, that has not been pre-owned multiple times or furniture that matches their identity and therefore well-being. Likewise, they might even save costs as they don’t have to deal with graduation furniture deposit arrangements. 😀

Woop, woop, isn’t the circular economy fantastic and sustainable?

Yes, the idea of such a circular economy sounds fantastic, because it can help to save resources and minimizes waste. So, what’s the catch? Because customers are ought for new products on a frequent basis not all circular business models are sustainable. This particular accounts to those circular business models that encourage consumption instead of minimizing it. Such business models might be those that focus on short-term rentals. Short-term rental is not sustainable if it promotes customers to rent more products for various occasions be that for multiple seasons or meet-ups as oppose to promoting products to last or products that cater the customer’s identity and needs.

The problem with short-term rental such as for fashion might also imply, that although goods are taken back, they may not necessarily circle in the next season, as fashion or other products become outdated and therefore disposed. Therefore, there is also a lower incentive to invest into the ecological sustainability of a material or product. Likewise, these models also influence consumers into constantly seeking for the new and therefore encourage the desire for personal up to identity change. “What I have is not good enough anymore, What do I need to have to be accepted? What if I don’t follow trends? Who am I? What do others think of me if I have the same for too long? Is it okay to always wear the same pair of pants to different occasions? “. – Of course it is okay! 😀

What’s a sustainable and circular business model like?

Ideally a sustainable and circular business model therefore caters around the aspect of “promoting to need less, promoting materials and products I identify or create a meaning with and to promote products and materials that add value to my well-being.” These type of business models should fill a consumer need, instead of creating a psychological need for customers to buy something they don’t need to begin with. As an example, my friends will love me, regardless of me wearing a special dress for easter or my casual street wear / outfit. Of course, changes are fantastic, but do we need them daily or weekly?

A sustainable and yet circular business model should be needs oriented

A circular business model becomes sustainable, when it caters around “our needs” and “identity” also. One of my favorite brands that supports such a business model is “OurChoiceFashion“. Besides its focus on durable and sustainable materials like leather, it also take into consideration aspects of time-less design, which allows customers to wear their shoes with multilpe outfits for various years. For customers to continue wearing their favorite shoes, they have implemented a repair service, that allows for shoe parts to be upgraded and returned back to you.

Something new should not be the primary sales objective of a business model

If we as customers feel like needing to rent or buy products that we never needed before, we think that what we have is not enough. We might therefore feel that buying becomes an essential part of our time spend, when quality time instead centers more around nurturing friendship and self-care. Think about a memory in which you enjoyed company or shared a meal. Does the memory make you more happy or the dress you were wearing as part of your memory ? 🙂

How can we then better promote circular business models?

Ideally, we would like customers to use their products for as long as possible and have them feel connected to it. We may also want to focus on a market-need and niche like student furniture rental. Likewise, can focus on design that centers around season-less colors, genderneutral styles, designs that fit into various waredrobes, furniture and other interior designs that easily match with other colors and of course purpose. For instance, I really enjoy up-cyling old furniture into new once by giving it a new life. Wouldn’t it be great to sell repair-kits in additon to pre-owned furniture to customers? Doing so would allow customers to feel more connected to their products, just like a child or even an adult that bakes a cake or builds a sand-castle or an image to be proud of. Often, we keep these products for as long as possible : ). Likewise, companies remain profitable – A win win situation.

References

Geissdoerfer, M., Vladimirova, D., & Evans, S. (2018). Sustainable business model innovation: A review. Journal of cleaner production198, 401-416.

Parguel, B., Benoît-Moreau, F., & Larceneux, F. (2011). How sustainability ratings might deter ‘greenwashing’: A closer look at ethical corporate communication. Journal of business ethics102(1), 15-28.

Wilson, M. C. (2013). A critical review of environmental sustainability reporting in the consumer goods industry: Greenwashing or good business. J. Mgmt. & Sustainability3, 1.

Feel it – Creating sustainable space to be

Almost eight months ago, I moved into my new apartment. I had not really rented my own apartment yet as I most often rented rooms or small studios with furniture in it. So I felt very much pumped and excited. My first thoughts wondered on how I was going to fill the empty space? Long story short; with a couch, a small and larger table in the living room and another foldable table and 2 chairs in the kitchen.

It looks okay..

Though, I was really happy with my apartment, something didn’t link with the kitchen. It felt just like a kitchen and I used my table and one chair with an average of 30-60 minutes a day ( Fast eater? ). Though the table and the plants around it averaged around 6 square meter. 6 square meter that are being heated every day and that were basically not used unless I was eating and was cooking, though my face was not directed towards the table but the cooking utilities.

Besides the space not being used much, I also felt it was empty; though filled with some furniture. Likewise I did not feel connected to the materials and neither had I created a specific feeling other then “needing to have a kitchen table and chairs” in the kitchen. But what else should be there? Are there laws on how space needs to be designed in apartments or can we go wild with it? Can we make our homes our homes, or should we make our homes the homes of interior cataloges? Or could we design homes, based on how we want to feel? Yes!

After liking the idea but having no clue, on how a kitchen space should feel like, I decided to free my mind by giving away my furniture. 4 chairs, which were quite functional could not be-resold, because ?? no interest and possibly minor material demage. Also, the material could for sure not be repaired. So they were happily donated.

The already pre-owned table, which was made of solid wood with a fantastic material quality, could be re-sold for 20 euros (as oppose to the initial price of 40 Euros). I felt it was difficult to re-sell the table, because it did not look as perfectly shiny as when I bought it. Though, unlike the chairs, it was possible to “refurbish it” due to its solid wood quality and if I had done so, I could have probably re-sold it for 30-40 euros. But then again, I would have made some € losses, because of the refurbishing materials needed so.. naaah. Did not.

😦

Though, I sold the table, I still wasn’t sure how I wanted the space to feel like. So for a couple of days cat and I decided to enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner on the floor. Eating on the floor, that made me feel connected to Moroccan friends; I liked it, but not too low, because well I like to sit on something. And then I thought about other space I felt very relaxed and comfortable at. And there it was “libraries, lounges a la James Bond, coffee bars, tropics, Jazz “. Though, lounges a la James Bond stuck in my head. Why James Bond though? I guess I like the feeling of mystery, smartness and strenght. So could I create such envirnoment and if yes, what would it need? A cigarre? No , but a fancy chair.

I needed a fancy chair, for sure. I was certain by 100% . But what is a fancy chair? It was defenitly a lounge chair and the very fancy once from the movies are most often made with leather.

waaa , they are expensive!

So I looked up lounge chairs, but well there were a little expensive. That likely is typical for many leather products, because depending on the the desired material quality on the leather, the processing of the cow-hide can become more cost-intensive. [Currently working in a leather project on more sustainable chemistry in the leather supply chains – h_da Hochschule Darmstadt (h-da.de)]

One could now ask: why not a synthetic or vegan leather chair? Simply, because there are no! feelings that I could possibly relate to syntethics only unless the imagination of a chemical wizzard and because I would not be sure how to maintain synthetic leather. Usually, with many synthetic or cheaply produced materials, they are difficult to maintain and last but not least to recycle and most of all to re-sell! They may also break more easily and I really wanted this chair to be the real deal. I wanted it to last a life-time . I wanted to see it age and shape my own James Bond history into that product that I did not have yet….

Dedicated to find the real life-deal – that I could afford- I scanned through a secondhandmarket platform, where consumers re-sell preowned items to others. Its more a local or regional type of site. Well, so there were some leather chairs that looked quite nice, but here I was weighing around 60 kg, doing a little weight lifting without car and there was no way I could have it transported. But there it was. The real deal, waiting for me, for 43 WOW Euros, only 200 km away from me.

And so I took my chance, called the owner, asked to send it via post, realized the many complications with the product, because the leather was not much bendible (how great!) and I decided to pick it up the next day via train. I knew it was worth it. Just when I saw it, I felt this instant connection. I loved how the previous owner maintained it , it was real thick leather, a nice upper cut, nicely aged in time- giving me that instant mystic , luxurious old and fancy feeling. Not only that, but the comfort also outweighted many other chairs I had previously been sitting in.

To be honest, I never had a better train ride, and never before had sitting and waiting been that comfortable. Also never before had I realized what an amazing panorama view one could have, if a chair was placed into the direction of the window in the train. Never had I felt such James Bond, advanterous but likewise luxurious trainride than this one. It was a James Bond (whatever James Bond at that point means) experience in itself. And so I was also congratulated by the train staff for my fancy way of travelling. 😀

And of course, the real deal and I eventually made it home, where it now fits well in my tropical lounge home. Now James Bond chair and I will have a sit and think about the feelings we wanted to create around us and based on that choose new materials that make us happy and according to my favorite interior designer Kelly Wearslter – are at the same time useful 😉

Space and Sustainability?

Besides the fun – much space is often not used efficentily, and we may pay a higher price for rent or houses, to have that extra room or space we do not use much. For instance, in families kitchens are used actively more often then bed rooms. So there is the cost-question on what type of space you need, what for and how you can design it to fit your needs.

On the other hand, a lot of materials are produced cheaply with a short-life. Buying materials that are more durable, last longer, have a higher re-sell value and can also be more easily maintained, provides yourself but also the industry incentives for sustainable production – > Circular Economy : ) . Though there is for instance much debate around leather – leather still remains a waste product and using the material for multiple years, might be more beneficial than the use of synthethics, that likely have to be replaced more often.

Of course, I am not a designer and neither does my space now look like from a James Bond movie, but being connected, a story or a feeling, also motivates us to keep materials longer and it also helps to create homes that reflect us, our feelings – homes that feel like homes.

Erase your face – a social dimension on sustainability

I am almost 30 years old and when I look into the mirrow, I recognize those small and yet growing wrinkles on my face. They were always there, just very small, but lately I feel they appear in greater depth. And so there are other bodily changes that manifest themselves on my skin. Those are some changes in my hair structure, some hair gets frizzier and thicker then it used to be and eventually my teeth aren’t as shiny bright white as they used to be before my mornings began with a cup of coffee routine. [My teeth appear whiter on the image below, because I assume that thats an integrated function of my and nowadays everyones phone…]

I love smiling and yet in the past I was asked not too smile too much, because the wrinkles next to my eyes would not look good; they would make me look older. Well here, super smile.

While I am usually very happy with myself and any wonderful changes my body undergoes as I age, I felt that I needed a boost last week. Suprisingly that appears to be the result of me researching sustainable and circular business models for the fashion industry and hence, scanning fashion magazines, social media posts and anything related to beauty and fashion for weeks. Though I feel I am quite robust against these type of “influences”, somehow they began tickling my interest for a wardrope change and beauty tuning.

I initially goodled eye-brow trends for fun. Apparently its a serious thing!

I hadn’t been very curious about the paradox of modern beauty in a while and yet I felt it was time to rekindle with that type of interest that I happily persued as a teen. However, this interest quickly stopped as I went through the beautyshelves in one store. What caught my interest was the advertisement of a make-up remover titled with ” Erase your face”.

Earsing… when I think about erasing I thought of school or any other moment in my life, when I wrote something that later was not important or something that I wrote by mistake or something that needed to be erased to be corrected, or just was not supposed to be there at all. My face.. when I think about my face I think about my identity, those natural eyebrows I have, any unique facial feature that turns me into that woman I am today, any interaction I have and any interpretation that others associate to me , when they see my face. But erasing my face? NO WAY!!!

Of course, the commercial does not mean for anyone to truly erase their face, but this type of advertisement can give people the feeling that their current look is not enough; that the way they truly are is not enough. And in doing so, it removes that sort of identity that makes you – you and me-me.

The advertisment made me skip then more through other shelves and my desire to tune my face a little bit, turned into a social-cultural dilemma. It made me realize how heavily beauty industries are pushing new beauty standards and norms to sell their product, that the product in itself, becomes a burden and supports a crisis of identity – the ability that the self is not enough; that you need to smell a certain way, that you need to look a certain way, that you need to be a certain way to be accepted.

Wouldn’t it be more fun, if companies would promote products that promote that natural you? And what responsiblities have beauty companies to begin with? Should they tell you how to look or should you tell them how you want to feel like and thus, how products could help you? Should they promote creams and products that help your skin to be protected such as from the cold and heat, soaps and shampoos that support your hygiene instead of “sparkly, wrinklesless perfect skin ” ?

Sustainability is not just about the ecology

Sustainability is not just about ecological products, it is about sustainable production and consumption patterns, it is about a system change that crosses the interface of social, ecological and economic dimensions. If our own identity was promoted more, we would not feel like we needed to consume so much and so often and likewise, companies could possibly produce less, with higher quality and higher standards. There would be more happiness, less waste and ideally fairer environmental and social conditions to which goods and services are being produced.

And besides all, isn’t individuallity what makes us truly unique and human? And thinking about it, so far I was not rejected for a job because my eyebrows weren’t trendy enough.. I think I want to keep it that way and you should too!

Being myself, also gives you the opportunity to see me for who I am.

Biobased materials are the solution for mitigating Scope 3 emissions

One of the many reasons that make me support bio-based materials, is their untapped potential as circular material. There is no sand or mineral that can transform itself as a result of anerobic digestion processes as ecological and energy efficient then bio-based materials.

Transforming bio-based resources has multiple benefits. One of them is the fact that we use re-growing organic matter that (quickly) captures carbon, we then move it or simply transform it and at the end of the materials’ life-cycle it can become [ideally] one with nature again- dead organic matter.

In addition, using, re-using, up-cycling and recycling bio-based materials will be one of the key components in tackling the climate crisis and accounting for environmental responsibilty as well. The reason is that bio-based materials can be transformed into other by-products along the value chain and therefore aid in reducing scope 3 emissions (nex tto scope 1 and 2 emissions).

Scope 3 emissions are those emissions that occcur outside of control of the company such as transport and waste disposal. They constitute up to seventy-five percent of a company’s emission footprint and therefore inhibits a firm’s ability to pursue the most cost-effective carbon mitigation strategies (Downie and Stubbs, 2013). Another disadvantage is that scope 3 emissions are not accounted for in the National Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. Our current GHG inventories are therefore incomplete, or misleading.

Yesterday, I watched an excellent Webinar by UNDP on the Circular Economy and a New Generation of NDCs. It was highlighted that a country could be well on track to achieve its NDCs as most of the production, where emissions are occuring, have been outsourced. But if we would look at emissions from a “consumption” perspective”, countries would be much less likely to meet their NDCs. This particular relates to the fact that only scope 1 and 2 emissions are accounted but not scope 3 emissions.

Type 3 emissions can be largely reduced if we look at bio-based materials

When we look at the bio-based model of the circular economy, lets say for housing, it is relatively easy to point out that organic waste can be used for multiple purposes. On the image below, waste water is used and transformed into energy, which is again used to supply energy for the household and other applications.

This model can also be applied to entire cities such as on the image below. This model also runs on the integration of renewable energy and bio-based waste to generate energy and add value to the urban setting as well. The model would not function, if it would not incorporate organic waste.

The bio-based economy is more efficient then the non-bio based economy

Of course, circularity also works with other non-biobased materials, but there are limits to their re-utilization and their potential in mitigating scope 3 emissions. In the webinar an excellent example of a “smartcrusher”, which breaks concrete back into its homogenous ingredients was pointed out. I like that it is possible to reutilize these ingriedients, but there are emission limits towards their reutilization and value additon.

Bio-based materials are the answer to carbon neutrality

On the opposite, if we were to adapt more bio-based materials, we could use less finite materials, create value from organic waste products and meanwhile, add value throughout the production. An excellent example for me is bamboo, because of its versatile industrial applications and alternative to steel.

If we look at the production of bamboo boards, each waste component can be used and transformed again either in the form of energy [i.e. gas, electricity] or products [i.e. pellets, charcoal, bio-char]. I like the image of a wood production process below, because it illustrates the versatility of timber waste products. This also applies to bamboo, besides that bamboo grows much quicker and drives well in degraded soils.

Bio-based materials help our planet thrive

A few months ago my former thesis -supervisor introduced me to the concept “ThriveAbility”. ThriveAbility reframes sustainability by focusing on the positive benefits of collectively living within our means ( operating within the carrying capacities of capitals). ThriveAbility does this by weaving two additional dimensions into the sustainability equation that remedy the Social and Governance weak spots, while catalysing context-based environmental performance. It basically looks at adding value to our environment instead of exploiting it (Baue, 2016).

With bio-based products we can do so. An example is bio-char that can be produced as waste product and be fet back into farms. Biochar can be used as soil enhancer as it holds carbon, boosts food security, and increases soil biodiversity, and discourage deforestation. The process creates a fine-grained, highly porous charcoal that helps soils retain nutrients and water. Biochar is found in soils around the world as a result of vegetation fires and historic soil management practices. Intensive study of biochar-rich dark earths in the Amazon (terra preta), has led to a wider appreciation of biochar’s unique properties as a soil enhancer (InternationalBiocharInitative, 2019)

Mitigating scope 3 emissions works well on the local level

Since our supply chains are connected across the globe, it is more difficult to achieve carbon neutrality during transportation. But if we would overall , in each region and city of the supply chain focus more on bio-based materials [and renewables], we could feed more energy into our transportation system and therefore ensure that we are meeting our global target under Paris.

My ideal supply-chain would be an integrated bio-based supply chain, which integrates circularity on each stage of it. Since there are growth-limits for bio-based materials, I would emphasize circular business models for end consumers and producers; 1. To capture product value and 2. To have sufficient time for circular systems to regenerate within out planetary boundaries.

My ideal and over simplified global circular supply-chain . On factory level, we can drive on bio-waste products and feed some components back into the farm level, such as bio-char as soil amendment

On a global level, there are of course more barriers and I recommend reading the article on “Bio-based Materials Within the Circular Economy: Opportunities and Challenges” by Brundklaus and Riise (2018) to receive a greater insight into that topic.

Have you become intersted to calculate your Scope3 emissions? I found an excellent technical guideline by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which provides standards, guidance, tools and training for business and government to measure and manage climate-warming emissions. You can access it here.

For questions and comments, feel free to contact me below.

References

Baue, B. (2016). An Intro to ThiveAbility: The Next Stage of Development for Sustainability. Retrieved from: https://sustainablebrands.com/read/new-metrics/an-intro-to-thriveability-the-next-stage-of-development-for-sustainability

Brunklaus B., Riise E. (2018) Bio-based Materials Within the Circular Economy: Opportunities and Challenges. In: Benetto E., Gericke K., Guiton M. (eds) Designing Sustainable Technologies, Products and Policies. Springer, Cham

CarbonTrust (2019). What are Scope 3 emissions?. Retrieved from: https://www.carbontrust.com/resources/what-are-scope-3-emissions

Downie, J., & Stubbs, W. (2013). Evaluation of Australian companies’ scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions assessments. Journal of Cleaner Production56, 156-163.

GreenhouseGasProtocol (2020). Scope3 Calculation Guidance. Retrieved from: https://ghgprotocol.org/scope-3-technical-calculation-guidance

InternationalBiocharInitiative (2020). Biochar is a Valuable Soil Amendment. Retrieved from: https://biochar-international.org/biochar/

Soezer, A. (2019). Circular Economy and a New Generation of NDCs. UNDP Webinar. Retrieved from: https://www.ndcs.undp.org/content/ndc-support-programme/en/home/impact-and-learning/ideas-and-insights/20190/circular-economy-new-ndc-generation-.html