Right off the bat, reading this article about eco-innovation, the island nature of Greece sparked some thoughts for myself. While I am definitely more familiar with the effects of climate change in the US, it seems as if there could be some overlap. One of the main concerns about long term effects of climate change is rising sea levels, and with Greece being so island centered, I can see how these effects could raise concerns. Even in Florida for example, coastline is already being lost, and scientists are worried that the state may not have it forever. With that being said, it would be incredibly sad to see the same thing happen to the beautiful (and small) islands of Greece, as well as of course the mainland. Considering the country of Greece is surrounded by water, tidal and wind energy seem like a good alternative, I know while we were there, we certainly experienced some wicked wind.
In comparison to other EU countries, Greece isn’t necessarily thriving in terms of innovation and digitization. And some of the biggest challenges for Greece at present are air emissions, exploitation of water resources, degradation of coastal areas, and loss of biodiversity. While I didn’t necessarily see these issues first hand in our time in Greece, I am also not surprised by these problem areas. Considering Greece’s economy relies so heavily on tourism, and more often than not tourism from other countries, I can see how this could take a toll on the country’s environment. From thousands of long international flights going in and out of the Athens airport, to resorts being built right on the beach, it is a tough balance to maintain. Especially following their economic turmoil in the 2000’s and post pandemic, I can imagine the country trying their best to boost tourism once again, but at what cost? Waste management also continues to be an issue for the Greeks, with trash so often being incinerated and hazardous waste not being dealt with properly. The waste management plan aims to close illegal landfills as well as other illegal sites dealing with the discardment of both regular and toxic waste. So while greece has not yet totally caught up to EU standards, they are well on their way to a more eco-friendly country, and are still thriving in multiple categories that aren’t discussed quite so often.
A circular economy is where the loop is closed, unlike a linear economy. Linear economy goes through the process of produce, sell, use than landfill. Whereas circular economy eliminates that landfill and switches to recycle, refurbish, reuse, and repair. One thing they emphasized multiple times was “Recycling alone will not save us”. While using a circular economy they have to keep in mind when designing to ensure the product can be reused, refurbished, repaired, or recycled. They also have to keep in mind when designing to ensure the product can be reused, refurbished, repaired, or recycled. They also avoid using fossil fuels and non-renewable energy.
They are not certain who exactly invented circular economy but over time it has been changed and refined through academics, leaders, and businesses. Even though there they are not the creators of circular economy there are two men who are considered “fathers of circular economy”. These men are a German chemist named Michael Braungart and an American architect William McDonough. They have pushed some concepts with their book “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things”.
The quote “Nothing is lost, everything is transformed” is from a French chemist named Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier which this motto can be adopted to circular economy. The goal for circular economy is to have the industry not harm nature so we can all live happily and healthy. The circular economy actually mimics the Earth’s circular systems. Through circular economy the goal is not throw away anything. As the world’s pollution and population keeps growing it is clear that we can’t keep using a linear economy.
Some facts they mention are: about one third of the food produced for human consumption goes to rot or waste, since the 1970s, humanity has been in ecological overshoot, with annual demand on resources exceeding Earth’s biocapacity. Today humanity used the equivalent of 1.6 Earths to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste, over the past 15 years, clothing production has doubled, but we wear out clothes for half as long, since the economic downturn of 2007-2009. resource prices have rebounded more quickly than global economic output, more than 80% of the world’s population lives in a country running on an ecological deficit, and of the 100 billion tons of resources that flow into the economy every year, more than 60% end up as greenhouse gas emissions or waste (page 14).
In circular economy there is the term regeneration. This means the product or service in this economy contributes to the system “that renews or replenish themselves throughout various lifecycles and uses”(16).