Impact Goal Rush
Impact Goal Rush

Episode 16 · 1 year ago

Erica Purvis - Cultivating positive impact and circular design

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Sustainable Design and Business Strategist, Erica Purvis talks to us about designing for the circular economy to create postive impact. She shares how she transitioned from a career from mechanical engineering to become a business coach. Erica runs Technical Nature and works on sustainable and circular projects as well as coaching small business owners who wants to be more circular. Based in Reading, UK, Erica is passionate about local circular initiatives in her local Reading area and hosts the Circular Coffee Conversations

Connect with Erica Purvis

Technical Nature 

Circular Coffee Conversations 

Welcome to episode number sixteen of Impact Goal Rush and in this episode we talked about designing sustainable products for the circular economy. Hello and welcome to the impact go rush podcast. This is the podcast for impact entrepreneurs. This podcast aims to amplify the voices of impact entrepreneurs, addressing the United Nations global goals, Acada sustainable development goals. Listening to fellow impact entrepreneurs on their journey in this new goal rush of making a bigger impact. Get inspired to learn how, true entrepreneurship, you can grow your impact to make the world a better place, leave a legacy and live a more meaningful life. I'm your host. Wound time. In this episode I have Erica Purvis, of technical nature and host of the circular coffee conversation. Erica gives us an overview of the circular economy and her personal journey from mechanical engineer to sustainable design and business coach. If you've missed the previous episode, episode number fifteen, we had sue Jackson of future proof Your Business, talk about how businesses can have a social mission and the heart of their business. Welcome to the impact go rush Erica purvious. You are sustainable design and business strategies. Welcome to the show. Thanks, very great to be here. Why is it important for businesses to be more impact driven and working towards the sustainable development goals? Yeah, big question to start off. I there and but I think almost, you know, zooming out of as systems and our planet. Don't you know what's going on? I would say, you know, business really should be a part of of thinking about how do we create health and wellbeing from all improve people's quality of lives around the world, not just to select very much rich few potentially and do that on own a flourishing planet as well. So alongside government, which you know when you think about government. Yet what should they be about? Not necessarily just growth and GDP and all of these things that we've got...

...lost about, but you strip it all back and think, well, what, what's the point? And I think business should really have a point of, you know, contributing, just like citizens, just like government, and to to making sure that this is a healthy and habital planet for all now and in the future. And the sustainable development goals, I suppose, of the best framework we have to support business, as you know, working out how they can be take that role and using some of them as their front drivers, connected to their why in their purpose. But also, when you look down across all of them, how can they also consider which ones might we actually be having a negative impact and how can we actually make sure that we're not doing that? Otherwise, you know, you'll have some businesses improving one while another ones improving a different one and and then potentially having negative impacts on others. So, yeah, I think it's it's vital that the businesses are part of our collective human go to really improve the lives on this planet we have. Yeah, so important to to be thinking bolistically and making sure you're not actually harming the other goals. I guess like unexpectedly so, one of the key areas that you are you really focus in, is really the circular economy. For people who don't know what is the circular economy, why is it important to be designing circular products? Yeah, so my background actually is a product designer or a mechanical design engineer, and and what I learned about or really started questioning when I was even studying it really was this idea of all this stuff that we're designing, that were creating, that we're selling, people are buying and then doing something with as all made from the three sources which are extracted from the ground and then maybe at the end just discarded, hopefully potentially recycled. But we don't even do that really great, you...

...know. So that that insideration or landfill and things like that. And when you look at that, that is really what we call almost a linear economy and that's really how a lot of businesses work these days. You know. They concentrate on the selling aspect, the design for manufacturing and and then selling it, but not really looking downstream and thinking about that end of life or new life. So the circular economy is really looking particularly around very much at the moment product based businesses or business models around that and thinking about how do we shift that take make waste mentality of a lot of the way that the economy works at the moment to thinking about it more as a circle. And if you think about it, it's also sometimes called cradle to cradle or rather than the cradle to grave. So if you think about how could you potentially renew products at the end of their life or extend their life or make them more repaarable maintainable, modular all of these different techniques that, as a designer or as the business you should be considering and building in as much as possible ultimately to know, going right back to that front end, to reduce or even eliminate the need to continually extract from our from our worlds in many ways, from cutting down trees in the amazons and all around the world, which is the worst it's you know, being an in about ten ten years, to copper minds, lithiumne batteries, all of these different plate things that are in our smartphones are in all of our different products. You know, they come from somewhere and there is a huge environmental impact, as well as often ethical considerations around some of the ways that we are still extracting and taking from the earth as well and polluting as we go. So really the SEC economy is it's really thinking a lot of that about how do we reduce that demand...

...side, both through better design products, but also you really need to look at the business model and the surrounding systems and infrastructures around it to kind of facilitate that. I know one of the things is really different cycles. We didn't do circular economy and I know there's different things that are fairly new, like we manufacturing. You know, these different cycles that are not as commonly known. But could you share a bit about it? Oh, getting into the the ECO, ECO jargon, the yeah, because I think, yeah, it's it's important to share it. Yeah, there's a lot of different, I suppose almost circular strategies really developing. I'm just doing a course at the moment of that that's from a kind of a university development that has lots of terms around cascading materials where, you know, one products waste or material might then go and cascade down to be used by another product. Terms like real manufacturing that you mentioned there in is often used by businesses or products that are then able to potentially, you know, take back a product after it's reach it his you know, useul life or was broken down or something. But re manufacturing is almost when you completely take the product to part again and re remake it, re manufactur it from those parts, but maybe with a few new ones as well, so that there are new ones. Terms between refurbished, which is it's maybe getting a bit more of a facelift and partly remain facting, but maybe not quite as manufacturing from the beginning of terms like up cycling, where maybe you're taking kind of one product and then adding new value to it in a different way, whether it's painting or you know, I think I hear and people and businesses like that are now beginning to also integrate some of these other types of business models or terms into some of the things that they do. Patagonia just recently have been, you know, recrafting...

...and they call it recrafting their fashion. So it's taking patty at Gonia colors, maybe taking them apart, but then using the material getting to create new ones as well. So for me to be honest, I don't I don't get too worried about the naming of the naming of things sometimes because I think when you step back and sometimes environmental sustainability can be almost a bit overwhelming or a bit like sometimes trying to make something more difficult than it potentially is. Yeah, and you kind of step back and so we'll actually quite a lot of this is common sense. Quite a lot of this is stuff that generations before all the generations still remember doing. Make, do mend all of these kind of things or refilling. You know, that was the norm. A lot of these different kind of ways of living was is the norm still in some other cultures or places around the world. But we kind of got lost in this industrialized, fast moving economy that it shifted towards of plastics and packaging and, you know, all of these buy and continually, yeah, by and upgrade kind of elements where they're actually in the past and even as a designer and mechanical products, from vacuum cleaners or washing machines and things like that, actually they also used to be designed to be repaired better or, you know, maintained and things like that. But actually the business models and, you know, things had shifted to to this more kind of fast moving element of buying more. Yeah, so they tend to be woods that are that's that's we've really, yeah, all the ours always in our what's we call are you touch a bit about your career path, but what is your top tip for anyone who's looking to enter into a career in design, engineering and sustainability? Yeah, I think what's Nice is that it is a career now. I think before you couldn't actually really find so much of things like that...

...or even in product design or engineering. degrees. They wouldn't necessarily have that, but I have actually seen and actually work with some universities and you know, there is more and more learning earlier on than even down into schools now, around sustainable design or, you know, ways or roles that you can play a part to create positive change as well. I think for me, I think it's really interesting to think about what success means to you or what you know. What is happiness? What to a goal? And what you realize is that quite a lot of perhaps kind of education and university you know that that's all that like. Oh, get a big job and money and all of this kind of system around that tells you that that's what you should be aiming for. But I think when you step back and you take the time so well, what actually is a good life for me or what kind of things that really do I enjoy? Give Me Happiness? It's working with people, feeling that what I'm doing is making a difference and things like that. So I think it's almost, you know, stripping it down. What are those fundamental things that really, you know, get you excited? It's what makes you happy, but also have that that purpose behind it, and then thinking, well, what route. Could that be to a core or do that forward? For me, I mean when I studied and did my first start, my first job, I was I was hired for the product design engineer, nothing to do with sustainability, but actually my I just brought my my interests or went to events, evening things, lots of other stuff that excites me and brought that into my role and then that grew from there as well. So I think there's lots of differents, like formal boots and degrees or for things. But actually, if you're excited and you're interested in something and a lot of just reading and, yeah, going out and meeting...

...people that are doing things that you're interested in, it's often a good rate. Yeah, I mean personally we met actually it at events, right, and we've made each other for many years and it was through these events that we were well, we were sort of put off and then we kind of co organized and yeah, so it's been a I think that's a that's kind of a very important power for most people to learn and actually step out of the traditional drop rules and in sort of explore what you enjoy and learn about sustainability. I mean, I think with sustainability there's so much change happening and everything is really student flux and like we're student developing so much new new technology, new new approaches, and so yeah, yeah, I really I think it's quite interesting at the moment to see, you know, the huge rise and public awareness and particularly probably, you know, in the in the ECO living in the home lifestyles and what can I do in my my kind of private life? But I think it's really interesting to think about, well, what? What about all of these people that are beginning to think about what am I doing at home and how does that affect my private life? But then actually, well, what can you take to work and how does that all of these different roles really and going right back to your question at the beginning, you know, around the sustainable development goals, is like, are their businesses or their roles or their work interlinked a swell? And I think it's quite difficult to live a life that's or that's not interlinked. You know, be one thing at home and seep does a day able and go off and do a job that doesn't actually also aligne with your values or your passions as well. So I think I'd be really interesting ask some of that filters out into the roles that people do in businesses or changing roles and deciding to set up you, and I think that's also where you're seeing and where I like actually to work a lot is with me startups and small businesses and almost community, grass roots things that happen, because that's where a lot of really...

...interesting ideas come from. But also inter length covid and things like that. We've also seen a real rise and support for local and community businesses and initiatives and kind of thinking about smaller, smaller circles around that as well. Cool. So, Erica, could you share it us? What is the circular coffee conversations that you host in? For people who are one to find more, it's a cure youtube channel, so could it tell us more? What sort of conversations are you heavy? Yeah, so with another friends and conferner from reading where I live, Sophie Sigal, we had started voluntarily running the circular economy club in reading in the area. In November two thousand and nineteen, did a few events where we actually got to meet people and meet up and, you know, back in the day, but then with covid and all of you know, lockdowns and thingss like that meant that we weren't really able to get keep thementum over going and, to be honest, actually for quite a few months we were quite tired. Yeah, I think a lot of us didn't really feel the energy to really get anything going and connect. But we really wanted to somehow bring people together and do our what we could to continue conversations but also create a safe, friendly space for people to join from home with a coffee or a cup of tea, and we've had cakes and biskets along the way. So we decided to start just as a simple circular coffee and conversation. It's Bi weekly on a Thursday at eleven o'clock. So the idea is, you know, you can take a break from what you're doing and join. We keep them short, kind of fifteen minutes chat with the guests and then another fifteen minutes or ten to that the live audience can ask questions and things as well and then stop it. And that's, you know, keeping them short and sweet and that you take a coffee as...

...well. And also we've got a mix that we wanted to reach out to, maybe not the usual suspects in the circular economy, but also really what's who's doing interesting stuff locally where we're living and invite them in and really kind of profile local businesses or organizations or campaigns alongside some other kind of other organizations that might be selling or or doing other things around the redding area as well. So yeah, it's been it's been really nice to have a range of a range of people join. We get nice feedback in terms of it's you know, no one needs slides, no one really needs to prepare everything anything, although we do ask. One thing is for people to bring a circular conversation starter, so a kind of a physical object or something that represents them. They're, you know, the organization that they might work for or some of their beliefs around secular economy, is sustainable design. So it's always interesting to see what physical object people have brought to really get their conversation going as well. Also, there is such a cool channel to be checking out. So if you're interested, please check out the your YouTube channel circular coffee conversations. So Erica. To close off, like any final advice for anyone who's listening. WHOO. So I think particularly around I suppose my background is sustainable designer and I've done a bit of kind of soul searching in like how to be a designer in a world that doesn't really need more stuff. You know, what role can can you you play? And I think the important elements for me that come out and few their skills or or parts that you have are to always question, you know, on different levels, from the product level, but sepping back there the business and the system level. As a designer, it's quite difficult sometimes because you're working with companies that might have a brief. You know, you don't sometimes get to design every anything you want,...

...or you might have great ideas, but how do you make that happen? But I would say don't be scared to question and see how far or where you can take somebody potentially on a journey with you, deeper into into their thinking. Abound designing new products or circular products and systems, and the other side is around enabling and facilitating, so being able to bring people together and ideas empower others to to create what they want. I mean some of what I do or eating is likely where I live. It it's how you can be, as soon as a citizen or when an abler with your skills to help others design the best solution, because often locally or in other sectors, you know the experts are there. They might just needs some help or guidance or facilitating like that. So I think it's yet it's an interesting role as the designer. That's really cool. Thank you very much for being a guest on impact. Go rush right to be yeah, thank you. Awesome. So there you go. That was Erica Purvis of technical nature. What's been your biggest takeaway from this episode? Let us know in the comment section on our social media page. If you haven't subscribed yet, please do subscribe. This will really help us grow our podcasts and if you can think of someone that would benefit from listening to this podcast, please do share it with them. In the next episode we have just Ber Steinhausen of Ourlboros dot works, and they work with CEOS and executives on their journey towards a sustainable circular economy. If you are a business owner or CEO of a company with physical products, you want to listen in to this next episode to learn how you can take your first steps towards the circular economy. So tuned into next week's episode. Thank you very much for listening in to the end of this episode. We really appreciate you. This is the impact goal rush. My name is Winton and I'll see you on the next episode.

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