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The Real Circularity Summit - Insights

We had a great Real Circularity Summit - and loved that we could invite anyone from anywhere in the world - they could watch or participate in the comfort of their own homes. No planes, no pay to play, no pomp and pageantry, just real people sharing real action, business, brands and applications towards Real Circularity. Many people that we work, collaborate or have taught ourselves.

Really don't take our word for it - here are some rundowns from attendees..

Photo Ken Alston with Mike Werner Head of Circularity at Google.

First Insight from Jennifer Barrios


''Last Friday I tuned in to the Real Circularity Summit hosted by Rachel Sheila Kan and Kenneth Alston. This format intrigued me because it gave me the opportunity to see, from the comfort of my living room, how some very impressive people are getting REAL about circularity, not just talking the talk but making things happen around the world. It validated a lot of what I’ve felt over the years and inspired me to see that change can happen in the apparel industry, IF we COLLABORATE and INVEST in setting up NEW SYSTEMS. My takeaways:

1/ Regenerative = Circularity. 

Circularity and circular strategies are about building a system of rebirth and renewal. Ensuring we aren’t throwing anything away but extending the life of a product and eventually its parts, finding new purpose after a product’s initial use phase may be done. 

2/ Emotional Durability. 

We talk about the physical durability of products, but arguably just as important is the emotional durability. If you love a product (or brand), feel an emotional connection to it, you are more likely to take good care of it, invest in repairing it, and share it with someone else and/or resell it to ensure it has a good new home when you finally feel you are done with it. 

We need to bring the consumer INTO the process so they are more invested and don’t see the end product as so disposable. 

3/ Get the words right. 

Language and conversation is how we change the world. Getting the words right in messaging makes all the difference. We want to inspire people to ACT. So, while educating about what’s wrong is important, we need to focus on what COULD BE if we do X now. Internally in our organizations and externally with our customers. 

4/ It’s a whole system perspective.

There are incredible innovations out there, particularly in materials. But, as Tricia Carey pointed out, “You can’t necessarily introduce circular materials into a linear system.” There needs to be a whole system change..and this is where I see most really enthusiastic people in the process get stuck or discouraged. Sustainability road maps are often quite high level and don’t have the process details, financial support or even alignment across the organization to scale new approaches.

And in a very fragmented industry like Fashion, we need tech to connect the parts of the supply chain. Very inspired by what Mike Werner and team have done at Google to accelerate circularity with AI and excited to see the potential for textiles.

5/ We can only ever produce less if businesses invest in growing revenue streams other than building brand new products.

Overall, there is a LOT of work to do, and we need to work FAST. But I see so much inspiration from REAL things happening…so I remain hopeful.''

Next Insight from Martin Brown, FRSA

Attendee & Speaker

''Such an engaging (13hr !) Real Circularity Summit hosted by Rachel Sheila Kan and Kenneth Alston

It was interesting to see the climate future potentials the fashion sector is addressing are very similar to those of the built environment.

From my scribbles made through the day, these include: 

- The common regenerative theme of working with nature to create conditions for life;

- The language we use is vital, for it is through language and conversation we shape our futures;

- The future is one of co-creation (as part of nature) not just collaboration; 

- A better understanding of circularity in materials and resources through hashtag#upcycling or reuse and not through recycling or downcycling.

Thank you, Rachel and Ken - it was a privilege to head up your summit-long series of sessions with insights from the built environment. And a great choice of date to hold a circularity summit - midsummers day being perhaps the ultimate in nature's cyclical rhythm, reminding us to seek circularity and renewal in all.

And big thanks to awesome co-panellists Dr John Ennis FRSA MRCGP, Chloe Bullock FRSA, BIID Reg ID, BA (hons), and Ann Vanner Director at Healing Buildings for our great conversation that ranged from the Living Building Challenge to community to building layers and flax fibres. ''

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