Getting circular early on

Author: Siru Nori

Getting circular early on

If you want to see a truly circular world, what could be better than starting with the young? That is exactly what the project Circular Classroom aims for. Read on to find out how Walki works together with UN ambassador, Leyla Acaroglu, to teach secondary and upper secondary school students about getting circular.

Every day we use thousands of items. Imagine if the lion share of those items were truly circular? That is what we should be aiming for in order to tackle the growing heap of garbage both in our oceans and on land.

Walki has, together with Leya Acaroglu, created the concept of Circular Classroom, which is an open platform for teaching kids about circular economy. Acaroglu, an awarded UN Ambassador, doctor of sociology and a designer who travels the world with the mission of teaching systems thinking and creative problem-solving to promote a circular economy, has designed the material on the platform.

“If you think about the life cycle of a product or service, there is a wide array of co-dependency between different variables such as energy consumption, logistics, buying behavior, consumption habits, service production, and marketing. All this creates an exciting world where we, together, can create new solutions that go way beyond traditional product design," says Acaroglu, who sees the circular economy as a huge possibility to create elegant and innovative solutions for future challenges.

In her very popular TED talk, Acaroglu uses everyday objects to prove her point.
“97% of Brits have a kettle at home but 65% confess to heating way too much water in it for every tea cup they drink. According to calculations, all the street lamps in the UK could be illuminated for one night with that surplus energy," she says in the talk that so far has an impressive 1,3 million views.

And to add to the irony, when the Brits boil a nice cup of tea to enjoy while watching their favourite TV programmes at night, the electricity systems become so overloaded that the UK needs to buy extra electricity from France. Acaroglu's solution would be to expand the product design with smart solutions that steered the kettle to only boil the needed amount of water for one cup.

“We should factor in much more in product design than just recyclable material," she says.

Perhaps the next generation will do just that. The Circular Classroom project is Walki’s first sustainability effort that is targeted at secondary schools and upper secondary schools. It is also Walki’s biggest corporate responsibility project so far.
“We believe that our company’s success depends on the future professionals," says Leif Frilund, CEO of Walki. "At Walki, we want to play a part in ensuring that all young people know the basic concepts of the circular economy and understands the social significance of the phenomenon."

Walki’s role in the circular economy is to steer their customers towards greater efficiency, both in terms of energy and materials. Over 80% of the company’s products are currently manufactured using renewable materials. The goal is to reach 100% by 2030.

“The better the understanding young people have of the circular economy as they enter the working life, the better they will be equipped to find sustainable solutions for the planet," Frilund sums up.

The study material is available free of charge in English, Finnish and Swedish on the project’s website. The online platform is designed to be permanent and it will be developed in close cooperation with educational professionals over the coming years.
Youtube: Circular Classroom
Twitter: @circularclass
Instagram: circularclassroom
Facebook: @circularclassroom

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