How Ellen created the Ellen MacArthur foundation to focus on creating a circular economy.
We know that climate change is a massive problem. So massive that it may be the biggest threat to the long-term survival of life on Earth. So with a problem this large, a simple solution isn’t going to cut it. Instead, we need to think big, bold, and brave.
No one is more prepared to do this than Ellen MacArthur. What started as one of the hardest races in offshore sailing turned into one of the biggest and best foundations fighting the global climate crisis. The charity that Ellen started has become her pride and joy and something that is making a truly positive difference in the world today and for many years to come.
But how did Ellen start her foundation, and why focus on a circular economy? Let’s take a look at the sustainability efforts and the impressive accomplishments Ellen has been able to achieve.
The Life of Ellen MacArthur
To start the dive into the life of Ellen, we have to rewind to 2001. As an ambitious 24-year-old woman, she took on the impressive feat of solo sailing around the world. Not only did she spend 94 days straight at sea, but she managed to come in second place in the race. And this was just the start. Ellen continued to take many sailing trips, even earning the title of the fastest woman to circumnavigate the globe single-handed.
What else has she accomplished? She was knighted by the queen of England, started a cancer foundation, and became an expert in the circular economy. She credits her interest in the topic to her days sailing around the world. When you’re out at sea for weeks and months in a row, you have to be self-sufficient. Your food, water, materials, energy, and waste all have to be contained to your small personal area on your boat. So if she could do it, why can’t the rest of the world?
What is a Circular Economy?
A circular economy is named appropriately as it describes a world in which everything moves in a circular motion, used and reused indefinitely. Most of the world today operates in a linear fashion. Resources are taken from the Earth, used, and disposed of. This cycle has a clear ending and starting point, and after the resources serve their purpose, the journey is finished.
But a circular economy challenges this norm entirely. Driven by a three-pronged approach to eliminate waste and pollution, circulate materials, and regenerate nature, this concept is quite literally a circle. Resources are taken from the Earth, used, and reused again and again in a never-ending loop.
Ellen took her knowledge and used it to form the Ellen MacArthur Foundation; a charity focused on creating and implementing a circular economy around the world.
Why Do We Need a Circular Economy to Fight Climate Change?
In a linear economy, resources are depleted over time. When something is taken from the planet, used, and destroyed, in order to accomplish that same task again, you need more of the original resource. Thus, the more you use, the less that’s left.
Unfortunately, the Earth does not have limitless resources. Whatever is here on our planet today is what we’re stuck with. While some things can be created, they must be created by what we have available to us.
Therefore, a linear system is not a sustainable system. It cannot go on forever because, at some point, the resources will run dry. And then what? To avoid this situation from ever occurring, a circular economy is essential. Not only to avoid an endpoint disaster but also to better the environment. Every time a resource is mined, refined, manufactured, turned into a product, used, and thrown away, it contributes to climate change through emissions. The less we must take from the Earth, the better it will be.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Ellen took her knowledge and used it to form the Ellen MacArthur Foundation; a charity focused on creating and implementing a circular economy around the world. This begins with education on the importance of a circular economy, research on how to accomplish the task, and system-wide implementation of policies, networking, and communication.
By building a community of thousands of organizations embracing the importance of a circular economy, Ellen and her foundation hope to change the world for the better and secure a livable future.
Using your experiences across your work creates a huge advantage for out-of-the-box thinking.
A circular economy is better for you and for the Earth and maybe a necessary path forward.
This economic change is possible today but will require mass participation and a willingness to try something new and promising.