People throughout the world are searching for ways to be kinder to the planet. Earth needs its resident humans to find ways to save it from problems like pollution, waste and climate change. One strategy that holds promise is gradual abandonment of a wasteful linear economy, which can be accomplished by moving toward an ecofriendly circular economy.

Figure 1: A circular economy focuses on producing a positive effect on the environment.Figure 1: A circular economy focuses on producing a positive effect on the environment.In a linear economy, raw materials are used to create a product; that product is then used and ultimately thrown away. A linear economy, which is the economy currently used by most of the world, produces a great deal of waste.

A circular economy, by contrast, employs sustainable production processes to redefine how businesses operate. Companies in a circular economy focus on producing a positive effect on the environment. The approach replaces wasteful production practices that use finite resources with sustainable production practices using clean and green resources. It reduces the use of raw materials, optimizes productivity and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

In the big picture, production is less costly in a circular economy; sustainability eliminates the need to search for new materials when resources run out. A circular economy also creates new jobs for designers and engineers who can guide processes such as recycling and repair. Another positive aspect of a circular economy is its ability to drive new relationships with eco-conscious customers.

One drawback, of course, is that many stakeholders are invested in the practices of a linear economy. Both customers and companies are naturally resistant to change; anything new can seem like a risk. The current demand for eco-friendly alternatives is still relatively small. While the environment is begging for more eco-friendly options, many people have not quite caught up to the idea.

Nevertheless, there are many steps companies can take to jump-start the process. By restructuring resource management, companies can increase their ability to recover, reuse and recycle materials, and to phase out production wastes. They can switch from one-time-use packaging to reusable or recyclable options. They can also partner with other companies to share resources.

The concept of a circular economy promotes sustainability and eco-conscious business practices. It may also hold the solution to tackling current crises surrounding the climate, scarcity of raw materials, toxicity and energy. Making the switch is positive for both the planet and its people.

There is no substitute for being kinder to the planet. After all, there is no humanity without Earth.