Why the circular economy and subscription services are the future
Back to blog

Why the circular economy and subscription services are the future

Sustainability8th September, 2020

‘Circular economy’ is a bit of a buzz-phrase at the moment. In these days of climate consciousness, it’s touted as a much needed disruption of the unsustainability of consumerism. It’s gaining such traction that even some of the titans of industry are buying into the concept, but what does ‘circular economy’ mean exactly? Is it just a fancy term for recycling, or is there more to it? In this blog, we show you why many experts, companies and shoppers have decided that the time has come to ditch the wasteful ways of fast consumerism and to embrace a radically different approach.  

 

Why it’s time to shake things up

Today’s consumer culture is dizzyingly fast. Major manufacturers churn out new models at rapid rates, seducing shoppers into believing that the quicker we replace our gadgets and goods, the better. This hyper production and consumption is, of course, at odds with a planet struggling with dwindling resources, growing populations, and the chokehold of manufactured pollution. 

Whilst it is true that some companies are waking up to the need for more sustainable approaches, many do so as an afterthought, doing little to tackle the issues of an already broken system. As Freya Williams, a green consultant to giant firms, has pointed out, sustainability must be “built in” to operations not merely “bolted on”. 

Here is where the circular economy comes in. It is designed to do away with the linear model where products quickly go from use to refuse, replacing it with a circular model that is all about reuse. Businesses that adopt this approach find clever ways of designing out waste and pollution and focus on making the most of resources by keeping them in use.

 

How subscription services are leading the way

On paper, then, a circular model seems full of promise, but how does it work in practice? One of the fastest growing consumer trends is the subscription service. According to Gen Z Insights, subscription services have had 100% growth each year in the last 5 years and a recent survey conducted by Barclaycard found that the average household is now signed up to 7 subscription services. Many of these services are seriously disrupting the way we think about ownership. Rather than the short-lived dead-ended system of buy-use-dump, many are opting for sign-up services that give the freedom and flexibility to swap - meaning you always have the product you want and need without breaking the bank or contributing to the mountain of waste. 

Groundbreaking companies like Drover and Grover demonstrate that you don’t need to technically own a product in the conventional sense to enjoy its full benefits. They've shown that even with serious investment products like cars and cutting edge tech, subscription gives you flexibility, affordability, and a cleaner conscience. The notoriously wasteful fashion industry is getting in on it too, with the likes of Selfridges offering it’s first in-house clothing rental collection in partnership with rental platform, Hurr. And in July 2020, it was reported that retail giants John Lewis were considering loaning white goods and furniture as a part of their potential partnership with Amazon Fresh. 

Subscription services demonstrate that the circular economy isn’t just a rebrand of recycling,it is a radical rethink of how we consume. Whilst the benefits of reuse to the environment are clear, there are other compelling reasons for us to get subscribing.

 

Why subscription is the savvy choice

1) It offers unparalleled flexibility

Traditional ownership is a rigid system. Unless you return a product within a small window of time and within strict terms, you are pretty much wedded to it whether you like it or not. Subscriptions, however, are innately flexible. Gone are the days where buying (or renting) a disappointing DVD could ruin a Friday night; in the world of subscriptions, you just hit ‘stop’ and pick another, for no extra cost. And this flexibility isn’t just available in the digital world, it applies to big-ticket items too, taking the anxiety out of committing to some of life’s significant purchases. 

2) It’s more cost effective

The low savings rate amongst 24 - 35 year olds means that cash flow is a widespread worry. One poll found that 12% of this bracket had zero savings, over 20% had £100 or less, and the average savings comes in at just £3,544.16. Shelling out for goods in one go puts a serious strain on finances, which is why subscription offers a sensible alternative. With a subscription you pay small amounts over time, spreading the cost in a way that makes even the creme-de-la-creme of products affordable without destabilising your monthly income.

3) It’s for the greater good

Reuse isn’t just good for the planet, it’s good for the economy. Taking Sweden as its focus, a study of 2015 demonstrated that the circular economy also offers opportunities to boost jobs. Keeping items in circulation through expert repair and maintenance is more labour-intensive than manufacturing in highly automated factories. In adopting a model of reuse, the study concluded that the number of additional jobs would likely exceed 100,000 – cutting unemployment by more than a third.

 

How Juno is pioneering the subscription revolution in baby products

Juno is the first and only subscription service in the world of baby products. For a fixed and modest monthly fee, our subscribers have access to premium products and enjoy flexibility like no other. We know that it’s incredibly unlikely that one pram will see you through growth spurts and growing families, so we’ve built in features - like our pram swap - that allow for change. Our pioneering model also allows you to spread costs, giving you greater control over your finances and saving you money in the long run. And by refurbishing products to a “good as new” condition, we tap into the sustainability of a circular economy.