The definition of sustainability is widely discussed, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear definition. The general idea of sustainability, however, is that the earth, humans and their economies are in balance with each other. Living sustainable therefore means that you take all three pillars into account in daily tasks and actions. Moreover, it’s important that future generations can keep living on this planet and therefore, we need to switch from a linear economy to The Donut Economy.
The Donut Economy
Economist Kate Raworth has come up with a theory called the Donut Economy. This economic theory redefines our 21st economy objective, taking into account the larger image of our environment. She did that by looking at human nature and the complex processes we are facing. She developed a new system-theoretical approach on redividing lifestyles and habits in a regenerative economy, whereas the most important aspect is that economic growth is not the main goal in society. Living in The Donut Economy equals living sustainable.
Most other economics believe that the inequality on our planet is caused by economic necessity. Certain parts of the market in certain countries are not working properly, whereas Raworth argues that it isn’t an economic necessity, but a design error. According to her, humans shouldn’t focus on receiving income, but redistribute and focus on wealth.
The Donut Model
Since the industrial revolution, we have consumed more than that’s good for our planet. More production caused more waste, oil leaks, contamination and many other things that harmed the environment and people. Kate Rawoth states that what we have been doing over the past few years is unnatural. According to her, everything in life should have a natural balance and rhythm. Like every new plant, it starts to grow and at someday it ends. The way Rawoth sees our current economy is the metaphor of that we lost track of how fast we grow and are using too many supplements to grow even more.
Rawoth created The Donut Model, based upon her Donut Economy theory. The donut exists out of three layers:
1) The donut hole
The hole of the donut stands for the shortage of water, food, money, education, social equality, gender equality, health and the voice of inhabitants.
2) The inner ring of the donut
This ring represents the social medium. In this ring, all above-mentioned shortages are in balance. In the inner ring of the donut, people can live in harmony and peace.
3) The outer ring of the donut
The outer ring of the donut represents the exhaustion of our planet and limiting the economy that can lead to climate change, chemical pollution, the exhaustion of fresh water, the acidification of the ocean and air pollution and ultimately, loss of biodiversity.
The inner ring is protecting all the influences that come from the hole and from outside the donut. As well, the more developed and firmer the inner ring of the donut, the better it can fill the hole. Therefore, this ring is seen as a social foundation, ecological ceiling, a regenerative and distributive economy and a safe space for humanity. Moreover, here are some examples of how the Donut Economy would work.
Implementing The Donut Economy
In today’s economy, we let something fall from above, goes right through the hole and ends up in the garbage. The process of producing and using is mainly a linear model. The steps from ground material, a product and waste are small ones and only a small percentage of it is recycled.Therefore, the first step in implementing The Donut Economy is creating a circular model. Everything that is produced, is measured correctly in order to lose as less ground material as possible. In addition to that, more effort needs to be made by companies and consumer to recycle materials and products.
A circular economy
In a circular economy, consumers need to try to fix things instead of buying new things. For
instance, a broken laptop should be fixed in a specialty store instead of buying a new one. Another example is to sew a hole in a t-shirt instead of buying a new one. In fact, Rawoth based the circular economy on the natural circle of life. If a gazelle dies, it can’t be fixed. Instead, it becomes food for other animals and maintains in this way the circle of life.
The circular economy is an ecosystem where everything is interconnected, where the waste from one company is the raw material of the other, where heat is no longer moved through impressive chimneys in the air, but through a network of underground pipes from factory to the residential area and back again and where the ambition is not to ‘no longer pollute’, but to feed the land in which one is working, the air in which one works and to let it flourish.
In the new Donut Economy, growth will come, when it comes. Nothing is forced and it can even feel superfluous and old-fashioned. Sustainable growth in the economy is green, inclusive, smart, balanced and irrelevant to fast economic growth.
The sustainable growth in The Donut Economy is all about respecting our planet and see it as our home. No one mistreated his own house? Everyone wants it to look good. We will need to cherish the ‘eco’ in economics. Meaning that if something isn’t growing anymore, we let that be because that’s ecological and natural. Growth is good as long as it needed. For instance, children stop growing otherwise there will be a point in life where they won’t fit on the dining table or will be crushing the roof of the house.
The system we have created of eternal growth and producing every year the same products, but just a little more adjusted is based upon a utopia. Growth is great, but at some point, there’s no function of growing more. Therefore, naturally, humans and animals stop growing. That’s what will need to happen in our future economy: The Donut Economy.