Old ways of structuring businesses are falling by the wayside, because there’s a new type of consumer in town: the conscious consumer.

People used to not question where they got their goods from, how many resources it took to produce them, or what happened when they threw them away. But now consumers are asking those questions, and businesses have to be responsible for the answers.

According to the Circular Design Guide, circular systems are the future.

What is the circular economy?

Maybe you’re already familiar with the sharing economy, in which people use services (take Airbnb or Uber as examples) to share the things that they already own (like apartments and cars) with people who only need them temporarily.

The circular economy takes that idea one step further: what if you don’t need to own these things in the first place?

via WSP

How the circular economy helps businesses

It’s all about the data!

Gone are the days of surplus products gone out of style after the latest trends and upgrades gathering dust in a warehouse. With the circular economy, where people only acquire products for as long as they need them and then send them back, businesses can better measure the demand and only produce as much as is needed. This also helps them reduce their use of resources that are precious to their profits and to the planet.

Consumers are encouraged to return their products when they’re no longer useful instead of throwing them away, and businesses can transform the goods of today into the resources of tomorrow.

How the circular economy helps YOU!

Access to the latest products and freedom from owning them forever.

The trend of minimalism in the consumer society is only growing. The conscious consumer realizes that they don’t need lots of things to be happy, and actually would be happier with less. Thanks to the circular economy, they can rent products for the experience that they want and then get rid of them without guilt. Then the circle will continue: the next person gets a barely-used product for their own enjoyment, and everyone saves money, time, and space in their home.

Still not convinced?

It’s the circle of life!

If you think the linear systems that are already in place are too strong to die out any time soon, watch this short video from the MacArthur Foundation, and see how it just makes sense: the economy is changing, and so are we.