Circular Economy, Air Pollution and Being Good Ancestors
We may recycle a few things but, barely anything. The idea of a circular economy is that we keep all of these products, all of these materials in the economy.
Eller EverettCo-founder, BothOfUs
About the transcript:
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be good ancestors you know this is this is the point of life
hello i am joined today by eller everett from both of us i'm very excited to learn more about what drives ella and what both of us is all about and um and her views on sustainability and how we're all contributing to that so ella please do introduce yourselves tell me and our audience a little bit more about who you are and um what brings you here today absolutely and thanks a lot for having me um so yeah i'm i'm eller i'm the co-founder of both of us and we're a social impact company using technology and design to drive the sustainable development goals and to really try and make positive social and environmental change yeah and then i also work with work with businesses to try and drive impact and innovation so using different tools um like the circular economy permaculture the donut economy everything like this really to kind of to to make businesses see things a little bit differently and to kind of find their niche i suppose um but making sure that they're very aligned with this kind of the social and environmental side as well excellent brilliant so before we go any further on that you've uh mentioned a couple of things there but let's just um ask a couple of questions about that so circular economy donut econo economy just maybe in a few words can you explain what you're meaning about those yeah absolutely so um the circular economy is really becoming quite a popular concept now and the idea of this is at the moment we have a linear economy so we take things from the environment we we make them into an object we use them and then we throw them away you know it's just this one line um we may recycle a few things but barely anything the idea of a circular economy is that we keep all of these all of these products all of these materials in the economy so when something gets to the end of its life it can be created into something new so this cuts down all of the kind of extracting lots of lots of new materials um it also reduces all of the waste materials that end up in the landfills and stuff like this um a lot of people see it as recycling but it's actually a lot more than this you know it's really trying to to look at okay how can we repair things how can we redesign things so that they um are just a lot more resilient and and last a lot longer i suppose so um this is what the circular economy is the donut economy is the idea that we have um we need to stay in this donut which that may sound bizarre at the beginning but if we go too far in the the donut is kind of a safe space for for people on the planet if we go to within the the donut then this is not safe for humans it means that it's not meeting all of our needs um if we go too far out of the donut then it's it's not meeting the planet's needs so the idea is that we have these barriers that we need to stay within to make sure that we're creating a thriving place for people and and the planet so um this is what a donut economy is um i also use a lot of permaculture and the idea of this it's actually traditionally seen as agriculture but um i use it for for businesses and i think because the idea was there's three ethics and this is people care earth care and fair shares so the idea is that everything you do is to try and create a world that is resilient for for people on the planet you know it's got this balance again so all of them are really quite aligned with each other so i hope this explains it a little bit that's brilliant and when i think when i'm hearing you talk about donut um the donut economy it's kind of like the gold goldilocks principle isn't it not too much not not too little it's just the right amount yeah yeah that's a great analogy
so um so let's find out a bit more about what drives you here how you got involved in this so um you know what why do you why do you do this why what's driven you here so it's a very good question and it's something that actually a lot of people ask me they always say you know what what makes it feel like it's your responsibility why do you feel like you have to have to do this and i always think well actually whose responsibility is it not to do something you know we're all kind of living on this planet and surely it's it's everyone's responsibility to try and make the world a better place um the reason i kind of came to where i am now is i was actually brought up i was brought up on an organic permaculture farm so you know i i was kind of from i was born into this role i suppose um and then from parents that are very you know very very conscious about about their environmental impact um always kind of taught me about human rights and things like this so this really introduced the kind of the the human and the environmental side so it was almost always something that was like okay well this is this is where i'm going towards this so um how does all of this find its way into into both of us how does what does that look like on that kind of in terms of your in terms of your business your daily activities how does it find its way in so both of us is i mean the whole company is built on the principle of of making positive change so you know our company is based on social impact and environmental you know environmental changes this is kind of this is why the whole company started so we are focused on tech and design but the reason we started was really just from three friends that um you know was developer designer and illustrator and they all kind of had come from stories of um you know of being a victim in some way or other and all decided right okay how can we use what we have to fight for social justice and this is how the company was born so i'm more of a new co-founder and because we've recently set up the the uk company as well and but it's really this it's just all coming from creating impact so being like how can we use what's around us the people that are around us the skills that we have to try and create this positive change um and this is this is the underlying of everything we do so all of the projects we do all of the apps all of the websites we're always trying to think okay how can we create the most amount of impact so not just creating an app to have a pretty app you know that's fun and looks nice you know it has to actually have this this real impact as well and be linked in some way to one of the sustainable development goals
brilliant i'm glad he brought up sustainable development goals because we'll talk about that in a minute um okay so i mean that's that's really interesting and then a bit more about how both of us works then so you work with other organizations and businesses to help them bring this way of thinking into their business is that correct yeah so we have two sides of the company one of them is actually our internal on our internal side and this means that you know we're building up apps websites any of this kind of tech technology side um because we've seen that there's there's a need for it so it could be an app to to reduce food waste for example and we've also created an amazing amazing tool that measures the air contamination of a city or even in a building identifies the exact location so that it be lowered you know and these are completely internal project so we've done the design the building everything like this ourselves but we also do want to support other social impact entrepreneurs or businesses so we will work alongside other companies however big however small as long as they're working towards the sustainable development goals in some way then we will offer the tech and design to them because one thing that we've noticed is that social entrepreneurs they're wonderful people doing amazing things but often they don't have this support this tech and design support so in terms of two things really um there's a number of groups that i i would say take part in is probably a little bit too loose but monitor and contribute to every now and then um and as i started getting in into kind of this way of thinking a little bit more it was bewildering how much is actually happening there seems to be so many people doing so many wonderful projects all over the world um but in kind of the previous life it was completely oblivious to it so to me there seems to be a bit of a mismatch between the amount of effort and good that's going on and how that disseminates and dissipates through everything else that we're all busy with on our day-to-day lives and and that's a big part of why i'm doing these kind of interviews but would you how do you see that and how can you how can you help that what can you suggest maybe to other people to do to help kind of bring that up to the surface so i completely agree um actually i think there is a lot of things going on people are doing amazing work but often you only get to know about it once you're kind of in there you know once you're within this circle and often you know as as you said some people don't actually know what the sustainable development goals are if you if you say sdgs then they have no idea i you know the other day i said um a social impact to someone they were like what's that and you know i was so surprised because i was like well i thought everyone knew this but um you know it is kind of actually that it's just within within these these networks i suppose um so one of the things i think is really important is about creating networks and collaborations um but not just it's well basically through different stakeholders i think this is the key thing is that it's not just about kind of big corporate businesses are making positive changes or small grassroots organizations for me i think it's about bringing everything together so from the un you know to these international organizations to small local businesses to some communities or you know it could be a kid that's fighting for climate change you know all of these people have or groups have a have a voice and i think collaboration between them all actually means it's it's a more relatable because you know one person on their own they can't relate to the u.n or to this massive intern you know this massive organization there needs to be all of these different stakeholders working together i think to actually almost make it suit through society a bit more yeah and that's interesting because the the question on on my mind there is as you said there's a lot going on but until you get involved in it until you dip your toe into the water you don't really see those ripples so i think one of the messages is get involved first of all don't be afraid of getting involved but i mean to inspire people to get involved and it sounds i think you haven't spoken to quite a few people on this topic there's a reluctance to get involved because of how maybe these conversations have been perceived over the last five ten years so would you do you have any advice on how how to get involved how to overcome that reluctance and actually take part dip your toe in the water yeah um so i would actually say it's even it's harder to stay on the outside um and i think this is you know from from people that i'm i'm connected with you know and they're it's really difficult trying to look up at you know looking at climate change looking at all of the problems that are going on with the world it's really scary if you feel like you're on your own because you're just like well you know what how can we do this um so this for me this is actually why the more why it's so important to kind of dip your toe in because as soon as you kind of enter into what this circle this network and you can see okay there's actually a lot going on and i think it's really supportive because to try and do something on your own is impossible but it gives you this kind of momentum and this push and be like actually things are possible you know we can make this positive change um and in terms of how to start this i would just say being being curious you know i think it's always just being about okay what's going on that why is that person doing this you know what where where these materials come from you know one of my things is just ask just always asking yourself questions so this is actually how i kind of really started changing my activities i suppose or what i do you know if i go to a shop i'm like okay where if i'm buying something i think okay where has this come from you know how much packaging is there in it is this packaging recyclable you know and it's always at first it's it might seem like quite overwhelming but then it becomes a habit you know just always thinking okay do i want to buy this or do i want to buy this you know do i want to it's because everyone actually has the decision and it's just making these small little steps um and then talking to people just being like okay well why do you do this and and um and it's it's so interesting you know yeah i think i agree with you curiosity asking questions um and talking about what you discover i think they're they're fantastic things to do um the other thing i i believe as well is that um sometimes these the big impacts are overwhelming like you were saying before you can't do it on your own you can't suddenly go from you know having a fairly large carbon footprint to being carbon negative you can't do that but taking small steps every day or every week you know those incremental steps i think are important um so thank you for that changing gear a little bit so um in terms of your contribution um to the sdgs your personal contribution what you hope to get from um both of us as well how do you how do you feel and what are you and what do you want to achieve for the planet and all the inhabitants as well over the coming years oh i mean where to start um so i mean with with both of us um this is really just you know kind of linking back to what i said before one of the things is is trying to empower as many social entrepreneurs as we can to make these to make these positive changes and to make it scalable so when we work on a project we always try and think okay can this is this just relatable to the you know to the specific location or to this group of people or can it have um a global effect you know kind of be scaled because i think this is really important in making an impact it needs to be able to be scalable um so this is the thing that that we want to do with with both of us um for me personally it's i suppose it's just trying to trying to help as many people as i can actually see see where to start i suppose or see the importance of it it's something that i'm sure it first kind of frustrates everyone in this sector is speaking to people who just don't understand or or just don't have this kind of need um so for me my aim is to really just show people okay it's not that hard um to start it seems scary it seems overwhelming but if you're doing anything then it's brilliant you know it's just doing this one thing at a time and um and this is one of the principles of permaculture is small and slow solutions because trying to do everything at once you'll just crash and it just won't happen you know but just saying okay today i'm just going to um you know not eat meat or tomorrow i'm gonna not take a plastic bag i'm gonna take a plastic bag to the supermarket rather than get one you know it's just these small things um but this is my aim really is to just try and try and influence i suppose people around me in whatever way that i can um and just yeah try try and have as much as a positive impact as i can and for me as well i have this big well i suppose this feeling where i'm like i want to try and almost redefine permaculture because you know i've come from permaculture background with my dad but it has this often has this reputation of being agriculture and i really want to change this slightly and show show people actually no this is an amazing tool that can be used with anything it doesn't matter what your business is who you are all it is is about thinking about things differently you know it's about thinking integrating rather than segregating it's it's talking about valuing diversity you know these are some of the principles that are relevant to anything so one of my kind of aims is like okay i want to try and get permaculture out there a little bit do a slight rebranding of it so that it's it's really relatable to everyone oh wow okay very interesting um from from a technology point of view are there any technologies or technology projects that have really stood out for you as um maybe being simple with a big impact or having overcome big challenges are there any that you could think of yeah i mean well for us with both with both of us we have a couple of of internal projects that i just love you know one of them to go with it really really simply we have one called home cook and the idea of this is just to try and cut down on food waste and all it is you know you can go and you say okay i have some fish that needs to be used today you know you need to search professionally to come up with a recipe you know it's so simple but actually it it it's fun as well and it just comes up with a recipe and it helps people just think about things think about how to use this this kind of food rather than wasting it um and then we have another one of this is my favorite project called cocoa puffs and the idea of this it's a it's an artificial intelligence map and um which measures the air contamination as i mentioned before and what i find amazing about this is that it it it makes the air air pollution visible you know everyone knows that there's an issue um but unless you're in a really really contaminated city you you can't tell or at least your it can you can easily forget about it but with the idea of this is that it makes it visible so that you can take action you know for companies or for municipalities you know you can say okay the contamination is coming from this exact place so this is where we need to do some work on and at the moment where you know we're starting a project with um another amazing company in barcelona and the idea of this is to try and look create a circular economy model and bring together all of these different different companies to create this this kind of full fully circular project so bringing in cocoa puffs to measure the exact um air contamination and see okay where do we need to do stuff and then work with other companies to reduce this air contamination you know by bringing in vertical gardens by working with algae and then using this map we can say we can actually see the difference we can you can see where it's it's reduced the air contamination so the idea is to work with municipalities with schools with universities so that you're bringing people into to making these changes if this makes sense no that's amazing and i know there's a lot of my followers out there who are in those industries in you know working in municipalities working in schools higher education for further education but also in those vertical farms and those farming technologies in ai in um air quality and air pollution monitoring so all of those fields you know um target on certain strings um if these people wanted to get hold of you and find out more about that project in particular where should they go um well they can go on our website which is both of us.se and always send me an email as well which is ella e double l e r um at both of us.se as well be very happy to speak to anyone that wants to learn about any of these projects absolutely no that's fantastic brilliant so thank you for that um now let's just have a quick kind of retro retrospective look and a bit of a futurism thing going on here then
lots has changed in the last 12 months let alone 24. but if you could if you could pick on if you could look back and think of some of the the biggest thing some of the biggest impacts and what caused those changes what what in your mind are some of the biggest changes in the last 12 24 months um i mean what a big change for me is that in the last it really feels like the last 12 months um that there's this sudden momentum you know and interest when talking about sustainability and social impact you know people know what you're talking about and even companies that you would not think care they now they have to you know i'm maybe it's in barcelona but everywhere you see you know if you went to a party when we had parties in those days and there was uh you know we had these cops and they would have one of the sdg um numbers on it you know and they would have these symbols on it and it was just kind of really really has come creeping into society which i think is amazing you know there's these billboards talking about the sdgs and it's like this is great um and it's it's things i mean for me especially it's with circular economy you know when i first did when i was first introduced to circular economy about four years ago i had never really heard of it i did i think it was still fairly new and then suddenly within a year within two years well i mean a little bit longer than that but um it's suddenly there's this massive boom and you know i'm on a slack group of circular economy and there's 4 000 people in it and it's like that is amazing when did that happen and um i i'm not sure exactly when it did happen but it just seems to i think with circular economy it makes a lot of sense and for businesses as well you know if you're coming at it more from the from this side it makes sense for the business not just for the environment not just for for for people but actually it has all these business um benefits as well you know it drives innovation it looks at it it makes things really find their nation become top of their market so i think circular economy has had a big impact on this um and then in the last 12 months i think i'm well i mean with coronavirus i think it's had it's there's two things you know obviously it's been madly devastating it's um i mean it's the strangest time and i think most people that i know's life but at the same time there this pulls on the whole world almost i think has made people think a little bit differently and it's made people think okay i'm not i'm not happy with how things are you know people want to make a change and this pause has kind of made people rethink things i think and be like okay what actually is important you know it's about being with people it's about this community and i think people really noticed it when you actually can't be with people and um yeah and i think it's just this actually i think has had a big effect um i mean let's see when it's over but i really hope i really hope so but uh from your perspective what do you think still needs to change in order for us to come close to hit or exceed the 2030 united nations sdgs
so one of my main things is i feel like there is a slight lack of of connection between a lot of things that are happening so to give you an example you know there's a lot of these amazing massive international corporations that are working to on the global goals you know trying to come up with solutions to stop poverty for example
but with massive goals like this it's very hard to focus on the loca on local solutions and you can't have one solution for the entire world you know every single place is different there's different cultures different traditions there's a different climate so it means that there needs it needs to be looked at in a different way um and on the other side there is these um there's company projects well organizations whatever doing amazing um amazing grassroots projects but then it's very difficult to look at it from um you know a global perspective so someone that is in um i don't know liverpool for example um and and they're they're looking for a job and they've it's been really struggling especially during coronavirus when a lot of people have lost their jobs for that person it's very difficult to think about people on the other side of the world you know that that are that don't have enough food so for me it's really about actually trying to bring all of this together you know rather than separating everything i know that with the with the global goals with the sustainable development goals there's 17 of them um so that people can think okay this um you know let's focus on this one but actually for me i think it's about bringing things together about okay how can we just create a world that's better for people and better for the planet both locally and globally can we rely just on consumer and individual choice being the driver here or is this something more kind of from an organizational point of view or from a kind of governmental or broader than that point of view that we need to happen to make it easier for us to get out of our old ways into new ways i think it has to or actually has to happen at almost every level you know it's also it is about consumer choice because i think you know if it's us as consumers that are saying actually we don't want we don't want this product that's been imported from the other world we want a local product then it does you know it supports this kind of push for of companies to go for the you know what's been what's in demand but it's also these you know the at the policy level is super important and i think it has a massive effect you know even if you look at the the plastic bag um charge you know it's 5p that came in and um and i think it was something like i could be wrong on the exact numbers but i think it was something like within 40 48 hours the amount of plastic bags that were bought dropped by like 85 um or something like this in such a short amount of time and it was such a small change but that had a massive effect and i think this is the this is what policy changes can do you know by bringing in by bringing in structures for companies to say okay you have to meet this and this and this um and you know for legal wise as well it could be a tiny tiny change that has these massive effects whereas the kind of personal level that's a that's a lot harder so i think it needs to come from both directions really and then i guess just in coming back to your company again um looking back looking forward what do you think the biggest achievement of the last year is and what do you hope to achieve in the next two years so um i mean i'm a big fan of our our internal projects so we have some really exciting things that we've been doing last year um that we're hoping to kind of finish very soon and one of them is called plastic free europe and the idea of this is it's almost like an alternative to alibaba you know this this online shop so you know after some research that we've done we've seen that actually companies want to be more sustainable but it's this is the financial side so our aim is to try and offer this um but without plastic you know so trying to actually offer very reasonable priced items but that aren't harming the environment looking at the future our aim is really i mean to to create even more internal projects you know our aim is to finish what we have start start new things trying to look at okay where is lacking in the market how else can we create really exciting technical tools to you know to accelerate their sustainable development goals um but also to support more social entrepreneurs so the idea is to support you know both really big companies and small companies as well because um because i think you know both of them all well all companies doing amazing things have um you know often need this this technical support so um is there anything else that you wanted to say or you know mention before kind of i turned this off um i suppose one thing and it's just because i always have to say it this is actually something that came from my um came from my dad my dad would always say this and i think the aim you know all of our everyone's aim should be and i think it is the aim really of you know people working in social environmental impact is is to be good ancestors you know this is this is the point of life is is that as long as we're we're trying to create a world you know there's no one way of doing it but if you're thinking okay i want to i'm trying to create a better world for my children for my grandchildren then i think you're doing quite well you know so i think just having this thought um yeah is just such a nice way to think about it this is what my dad said and now i can kind of repeat it all the time but i think it's a really nice way to look at things
My Thoughts on the Conversation
Having been brought up in a permaculture environment, Eller uses the three core ethics of people care, earth care and fair shares to help steer businesses in the direction of doing good.
I found it really interesting to hear how hard times and personal difficulty drove the original founders to set up the business to create change and social impact. Today the business apply design and technology skills to their own internal projects as well as customer problems to help deliver meaningful progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).
During the discussion we talked about how to reduce food waste along with how they are using AI to help identify air quality issues in building and cities.
I discussed how when I dipped my toe into the world of Tech4Good, I was astonished at how many good things were happening all around us. Her advice was to never stop exploring, asking questions and sharing what you learn.
I found Eller's enthusiasm and ideas really inspiring, and I hope you will too. Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.
Find out more about BothOfUs here http://bothofus.se
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