Circulate on Fridays: Two great podcasts and much more

Publication Date: 

Friday, 11 August 2017 - 1:19pm


Joe Iles

It’s Friday, which means that we have a selection of circular economy content recommendations to be enjoyed at your leisure this weekend. 

Cream of the crop this week is the latest episode from the excellent How I Built This podcast on NPR. The company under the spotlight this week is Rent the Runway, and Guy Raz is joined by co-founder Jenn Hyman. She explains what inspired her to pioneer short term clothing rental for high fashion, the process of piloting the model, hustling for customers and understanding the customer base, and how major brands react to the new business model.

And since you’ve got your headphones handy, this podcast from the McKinsey Quarterly is also worth a listen. Following on from an article earlier this year on the nine global forces ‘inspiring a new narrative of progress, Allen Webb, Sven Smit and Ezra Greenberg sit down to discuss the trends that companies need to pay attention to, and how they be prepared to respond to them. As the title of the article suggests, there’s a lot of discussion about how we can rediscover a story of social and economic progress, when the patterns of economic growth that we’ve seen in the past are losing relevance.

“I think if you were to ask lots of people whether they feel they know where their future prosperity’s going to come from, they will probably not be able to articulate it.”

Tearfund’s latest short circular economy paper got us thinking. The charity has investigated the impact of improved product design, durability and innovative business models on circular economy activities in low income countries. Items like used electronics flow from Europe to places like Nigeria and Ghana, where they provide revenue for citizens, and the authors suggest that the shift to a circular economy could reduce this practice and therefore limit the economic contribution of circular businesses in low income countries. But is it right that people in these countries should deal with the design decisions made further upstream? As Ken Webster pointed out on Circulate last year, this could be seen as circularity “born of necessity not choice”. Check out the report and let us know what you think.

Finally, HBR’s Eddie Yoon writes about why Elon Musk is one man he does not bet against. Yoon argues that Tesla’s success shows that traditional business metrics have become outdated. This piece doesn’t delve specifically into the circular economy topics specifically, but it does highlight that status quo business activity is there to be disrupted by both people and organisations.

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