Bottom-Up Circular System

I have worked as an industrial designer for nearly a decade. I have designed a wide variety of products, from medical devices to product packages, from lighting systems to ATMs. I have found that this process invariably reinforces linear thinking. If you are not your own project investor or producer, the first conversation that is had with the investor or producer typically begins something like this:

"We must design something that answers the demands of the market but keeps it cheap to produce and design it so that it is beautiful and sexy. It should sell it itself and make us money, making us the leader in this market!"

In the linear system, every product or service creates a new demand and pushes the community to believe it is a needed item. This linear mindset is not only in the production or design field but also penetrates every part of our daily lives, from our daily grocery shopping to our educational institutions, from our health care systems to the meals we cook and eat. It is all related to our community mindset and daily practices. Action “A” is always results in “B.”

Let us shift from the linear system to the circular system, which means keeping the value of every material, the source of used energy, and respecting human rights at their highest level. But when we are talking about shifting from a linear to a circular system, we cannot only focus on industry, producers, or government. We must also account for the power of individuals and communities. Then we can shift these linear practices to something more valuable. By bringing the awareness of the circular system mindset to the community, we begin to let them accept, and even help design, ways in which to put these values and practices into action.

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