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Forum learns how new economic models make sense for a sustainable future

14 March 2014

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Students from Archbishop Holgate’s CE School in York and an academic from the University of Leeds presented the case for new economic models to York Environment Forum on Tuesday 11 March 2014.

Sam Rippon, 16, and Ethan Lewis, also 16, talked about the need for industry and businesses to reuse precious resources, encouraging a transition to a circular economy where products are loaned, hired or shared rather than being privately owned. The students showed a film they had made and explained the ethos of the circular economy, which makes use of innovative design and technical solutions to ensure that resources are continually reused rather than being thrown away.

Archbishop Holgate’s is a Pathfinder school for the circular economy, which is promoted by internationally renowned sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur through her own Foundation. The school is putting the ideas into practice in lessons and in the way it operates so that its pupils can take their learning into the workplace when they move on.  It was visited by Dame Ellen in 2012 as a prize for the film they made explaining the concept.

Forum members also watched the film Enough is Enough:  Building a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources, made by Leeds-based filmmaker Tom Bliss and featuring interviewees including Professor Kate Pickett of the University of York and Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party.

The film was introduced by Dr Tim Foxon, Reader in Sustainability and Innovation at the University of Leeds  and presents the case for a steady-state economy based on ‘enoughness’, equality and justice that recognises planetary boundaries. Dr Foxon is  a colleague of Dan O’Neill and Rob Dietz who co-authored the highly praised book by the same title, which has generated much media interest since its publication last year.

‘We found the presentations really inspiring,’ said Kate Lock, Chair of York Environment Forum. ‘We’re now planning to get together with other partner organisations to arrange a much bigger public event so that we can air the ideas more widely and, hopefully, influence how we do things in York.

‘Companies such as Google, Ikea, Philips, Unilever, BT and Morrison supermarkets have all signed up to circular economy principles, as has Denmark and the Scottish Government. It would be fantastic if York could be the first local authority to sign up to the Circular Economy 100.

‘Not only would it demonstrate that the city takes sustainability seriously, but it makes good business sense. With all the design and technology industries in the city, York is the perfect place to demonstrate how the circular economy can work and it would put our young people ahead of the curve, too.’

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