#000 Our Story
“What would it look like when it was easy?”
… I wondered while talking to Ellekari about Circular Economy. As she was finishing her Masters Thesis about the transition steps of businesses towards a circular business model, I got so intrigued by the concept. Look at all the opportunities for innovation while doing something good for the planet! Being an innovative Healthcare professional myself, I’ve set the goal to become an expert in this field as well. As soon as possible. That meant no 3 year long study…
So what did we do?
Our curiosity and drive, some pragmatism and a healthy appetite for adventure took us on a journey. We decided to drive our campervan South, and spend some weeks learning, practicing, discovering what the early adaptors and frontrunner pioneers do, transitioning towards a zero waste planet.
This is our Story
Let us take you along this journey through France, to Andorra and into the Spanish hills and you will learn:
About our unique approach to answer this question
How you too can gain direct practical knowledge about circular business
Our biggest take outs so far
Do’s and don’ts if you want to incorporate circularity in your business
About our mission for the next years
Go and Learn from the Frontrunners
A quick and definitely fun way to learn, is to ask the best in the field about their experiences. So we decided to do exactly that, and hence started our unique project ‘Circular Stories’: a quest through France and Spain, along the outstanding examples of circular entrepreneurship. Open to learn from them what it takes to make it work, in a Circular Economy.
Inspired by Tim Ferris’s podcast the tribe of Mentors, where Tim interviews the best in the world using the same set of de-armoring questions, we thoughtfully assembled a list of questions that fascinated us, and we wanted to find the answers for by conducting interviews.
And then… we just went out to do it. Trusting the process. Using our own money. Open to whatever we might embark upon while also intentionally reaching out to people that could help us accomplish this mission.
Along the way, we heard honest stories about leadership, business models and the hard truth about the transition of circular entrepreneurs.
of the day:
“Use your all your acquired professional skills, to do good”
Mariëlle van Hemert
Walking down the streets you will find circularity everywhere
Along the road with our campervan, or roaming the streets of Paris and Barcelona with friends we noticed once you shift to this paradigm you will find that circularity is everywhere. As Johan Cruijff would say: “You start seeing it, when you get it!”
We came across some striking examples, some of which we listed below.
Beautiful Camping ‘Le Paradis’ is an Eco-Label Campsite in France
Producer of the prize winning Bobark Bag
A shop with eco-label disposables, PacknWood, which turned out to be a new business initiative of a previous plastic disposables wholesaler
Pineapple peel undies
Attractive EcoVerde Points (urban recycling stations) in the midst of Barcelona
People like you and me do have an opinion
Consumers are the REASON for the entire linear economic system we have in place. But they are often left out of this whole big effort of bending the straight-line system to become a loop. Talking and connecting with random people in the street, while having a quick bite or at rooftop terrace parties, we listened and noticed most of them do have a clear opinion on sustainability or circularity, it just had to develop in their minds as they went.
While at first they seemed hesitant to state they know anything about it, then, as the conversation proceeded, they actually did display a drive and opinion about what should happen. Consumer awareness around this topic is obviously growing. We just have to help them shape their mind about it. The success of the circular economy will be possible when all humans are on board with it. It is the consumers that will create the demand for products that this circular system will make for them. And you know what is even better? Next to consumers we are all professionals! Meaning we can to take our perspective on sustainability to the next level at work as well.
Embassies open doors and their network
Next to random meet-ups (which we loved), we intentionally reached out to our network, in turn introducing us at the Dutch Embassy in Paris.
On a warm summer midday, during an absolute shut down of all public transport in the city due to a strike, we took a 13 km hike to the Embassy. While some may think of the Embassy as a big fortress, only to be entered when one has a serious issue to address, we were warmly welcomed to interview Leontien. She is appointed to enhance circular economy and Dutch business in France and told us circularity is high on the agenda. To us it became clear that the Embassy is a must if you are considering expanding your business abroad. Especially Circular companies are supported more than ever to find the right partners over borders.
On the road towards Spain, we reached out to NBSO (Netherland Business Support Office) Barcelona and again were struck by the openness and welcoming attitude of the team and entrepreneurs, willing to explain their views and open their extensive network for us.
Everybody wanted to share their story!
We sent out an email to Lotte from NBSO Barcelona in the morning and went for an intense hike in the Pyrenees for over 8 hours. Ending the hike we kind of lost track of the exact location of our campervan which was parked somewhere but (classic beginners mistake) not pinned on Google Maps. It must be somewhere up the mountain, we figured, climbing up for another hour… It was nowhere to be found, when a friendly driver pulled over to help us and claimed he had seen it parked at the nearly the base of the mountain. Whoops.
Reunited with our blue friend, and finally getting back signal, over 22 companies replied to us! All stating they wanted to share their stories in our project:
Hotel L’Avenc de Tavertet, Spain
Circular exclusive mushroom concept of Mycelio Organic
Conclusion: Stories can change the world
We found that frontrunners are very passionate about what they do. They are on a mission of the heart to run their business with purpose over profit. Their stories are so valuable and deserve to be shared. For the simple fact that:
- Knowledge sharing: others can learn faster from their experience and avoid pitfalls
- Inspiration and belief: they show us it is possible and inspire to follow their lead
- Transparency: authentic stories, combined with data create trust and a loyal fanbase for a brand
- The Ripple Effect: when more entrepreneurs and consumers join, the ecosystem evolves and circularity becomes easier
And this is how Circular Stories started…
Back home, we decided to put what we’ve seen into practice.
With the mission to help people create and grow their circular mindset and business, and uniquely capture and publish their honest stories, we aim to create even more impact.
Our ambition is to find and publish at least 100 Circular Stories in our online magazine by 2021. Either the stories are already there, or businesses want to start from scratch, we will get them going.
As committed entrepreneurs we too will encounter failure, victories, beautiful connections, great business concepts and we won’t stop until we get the job done. Together. Cause the world needs circularity, and pioneers to push it forward.
If you could have a gigantic billboard with anything on it what would it say and why?
Ready to share your story?
In the 'Roadmap towards the Transition to "gospodarka cyrkularna”', the Polish government talks about maximisation of added value of resources and products, and minimisation of waste. A reflection on the transition towards a resource-efficient, innovative and competitive Polish economy.
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Circular Quote of the Day
Do something that makes your kids proud.
Dr. Sebastian Porkert, Founder ECOFARIO
Walk the talk. Our professional community is helping brands to go and grow circular. People like you and me. Driven to make a positive impact.