What is a circular economy you ask?
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”. – Albert Einstein, Physicist.
A circular economy is focused on the renewal, resilience, and repurposing of already existing materials and parts verses the “take, make, dispose” method of a linier production that we all have been way too comfortable with in the past, including me.
When it comes to office furniture waste, it’s only a small part of the overall sustainability problem, but it’s a big chunk. 17 billion pounds of office furniture is dumped into our landfills each year in the USA and it is only getting worse. I have personally seen enough, good quality office furniture get thrown away without a second thought, to last me a lifetime.
So, what can we do about it?
There is a world of opportunity when it comes to the way we make and design things. By “rethinking” the way we are accustomed to doing things, knowing we have the power to change the perspective we can redesign and rethink the way our economy works, however it will have to start at the top for it to catch on. Meaning, it has to start with the top architectural and design firms of the world as they have enormous capacity for influencing change. With top architects leading the charge they can help guide their clients in each phase of the design process to help direct them towards reused, repurposed resources and products.
In the not to recent past there really hasn’t been an easy way for architects and designers to access existing office furniture inventories yet alone implement pre-owned office furniture into their design because of various reasons such as; timing, availability and location but now with the Clear Office marketplace sellers can easily post their items for sale on the site and specify critical pieces of information such as when the furniture is available, when the furniture needs to leave the building, minimum quantity sale and important building information details creating a more streamlines approach to material reuse.
In addition, by architects getting their clients to post their previously loved office furniture in the beginning of a project (6-9 months ahead of time) they will have adequate time to market their pre-owned office furniture avoiding the possibility of it ending up in landfill AND architects and designers have a realistic chance of being able to access and secure already existing materials to implement projects. Helping our clients be PROACTIVE instead of REACTIVE can make all the difference in the world but we will have to teach them a better way.
Once other architectural and design firms see the benefits and ease of reusing existing materials, they are surely going to follow, along with engineers and construction. That is when we will see some very big, positive impact on our planet and help us move in the right direction.