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The first “R” should be Rethink

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There is no shortage of head-spinning statistics these days.

In Canada we consume the equivalent of 4.7 Earths every year. Our incessantly increasing consumption is depleting our dwindling resources - 90% of which end up in the garbage after a single use.

We have no choice but to rethink our economy. Having reached a key juncture in the economic recovery, we must redouble our efforts to transition toward a circular, decarbonized economy.

How are we doing so far in Quebec? According to a recent report produced by RECYC-QUÉBEC and Circle Economy, Quebec’s economy is 3.5% circular. That is three times less than the global economy and seven times less than the world leader, the Netherlands, whose economy is 24.5% circular (with a target to be a 100% circular economy by 2050!).

There are, however, more and more initiatives here in Canada in recent years.

At Équiterre, we are developing a new circular economy program centred on the following three guidelines.

1. Consume less, more responsibly
Transitioning to a circular economy requires a healthier relationship with material consumption, and an emphasis on restraint. At the heart of the resource depletion problem is an economic system of overproduction and overconsumption, disconnected from its impacts on human beings and the planet. The proliferation of gas-guzzling oversized vehicles on our roads is a striking example.
Consuming less, more responsibly, in a way that prioritizes our collective well-being, is an integral part of a circular economy strategy to help address the climate crisis.

2. Produce more durable goods that are more easily repaired
Équiterre has launched a new research project to identify levers for action to make it easier to repair electronic devices and appliances.

The project is a logical next step of the first Canada-wide study on obsolescence, published in 2018. We will be working to help ensure the rapid implementation of concrete changes that will help lengthen product lifespans.

Just last month, we launched a petition urging the Quebec government to make it easier for consumers to have their items repaired and to help them have better access to information about product lifespan and repairability.

3. Raise awareness among businesses, governments and the public
Businesses need to understand and take responsibility for the consequences of their actions on society and the environment. Efforts to raise awareness must shift into higher gear.

Équiterre’s annual benefit event this year will seek to do just that. Entitled, “The circular economy: jobs of the future” the event will welcome hundreds of stakeholders from economic, social and political realms. We’d love to have you join us! Register for our virtual event, to be held on November 17, to come share your thoughts on the new and emerging socioeconomic models.

I’m very excited about the future of the circular economy in Quebec and I’m encouraged to see many groups actively engaged in reduction at source initiatives across the province. But for these projects to be developed and rolled out on a larger scale, our governments must establish a strong roadmap with adequate funding.

We must transition from a linear to a circular economy. It will not only help to address the climate crisis, but will also help us to prioritize our well-being: shifting away from unbridled consumption and towards a greater emphasis on nature and human relations.

Colleen Thorpe
Executive Director