Transcript: Two Rules for the Circular Economy and Setting System Conditions for an Abundance of Flows
SEE THE SHOW NOTES AND LISTEN AT: Two Rules for the Circular Economy and Setting System Conditions for an Abundance of Flows with Ken Webster
Katherine Whalen [00:00:35] Welcome back to the Getting in the Loop podcast. I'm very excited to have Ken Webster on the show today. For those of you who don't know Ken, he is a leading expert on the Circular Economy and author of the book The Circular Economy: A Wealth of Flows. From 2012 to 2018, he was head of innovation at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, where he remains an associate and now holds positions at both the University of Exeter in the UK and Linköping University in Sweden.
[00:01:02] In today's episode, we talk about how his interest in the ideas behind circular economy emerged. What has surprised him the most about the recent surge of interest and his vision for the future?
[00:01:15] Before we get into today's episode, I'd like to ask you a question. What do you think of the Getting in the Loop Podcast so far? Let me know after this episode by sending me an email at katie@IntheLoopGames.com. I'd love to hear from you and I might include your thoughts on an upcoming episode. Now onto the show!
[00:01:35] So, Ken, to start us off; could you say a few words on how your interest in circular economy came about?
Ken Webster [00:01:42] That's always a really tough question because it involves a bit of history, my background sort of education and economics, and I became when I was I was doing some work at Manchester University and somebody came along and said, I'm somebody from WWF. What would you do? A bit of research for us in your department about how we educate for economics and environment. So I got into that a bit there because it was just a challenge for university. But then as I went on over more years, I realized that the environment movement as such or even the social justice one, it didn't deal with the economy very well. It sort of sort of said, well, yeah, you regulate that economy was just about well, you need to regulate the bad bits. And I thought that was it. I didn't really understand economics. Somebody said that. Economics is about like the ghost in Hamlet in the Shakespeare play. It shows up, but nobody really knows what to do about it. You don't know what its role is. And I was always more concerned to get discussion of economics more solidly in these educational work.
[00:02:53] And then I realized a lot of sustainability goes into that, that whole thing. By that, what is sustainability? It ended up being very much either on the social justice side or the environmental problems. And economics was the business was the bad. Yeah, that was the enemy, really. And I thought, well, hang on, you've got to make all three work properly. There's no point being great on environment and social and just saying, well, economy will just have to do what we say in that sort of naïve sense. Isn't there a positive role? So I got more involved with those people who were talking about design and business models. I mentioned them several times at Michael Michael Brown, GA. And we love in stunning venues those sorts of people, Thomas Lyle. They're often architects. Walter Style. He's an architect, too, originally. These are designers. I was became interested in people in design and were trying to design a system that went from do less harm to a positive cycle. And that's when I began to shift and think, hey, it's about designing the system to work. And I'd been deeply interested in systems thinking, you know, this, the idea of non-linear systems and how most real world systems are like that. So I was more interested in how how progress could be made, which did include business lessons. And it included building a narrative over time and being patient about that and having a framing of it that might be progressive. So I got into it in that way. I'm a purveyor of secondhand ideas. I'm not shy of that. I just put things together from other people and tried to frame it well. And that suited then my work as I moved into the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Yeah, because that was the framework they found exciting. Alan was very keen on having a positive approach. And we revive the term Circular economy. We picked it out of it was in China and other places. We thought it was just the one to give a boost to. So we helped energize that phrase again. You know, these things come in waves. So that's that's my background, really. I'm a purveyor of second hand ideas, which I find interesting. That's my downside. I get bored if it's not. Know, I don't love the detail. I love the connections.
Katherine Whalen [00:05:24] You're a true designer.
Ken Webster [00:05:27] Well, I pretend to be, but, you know.
Katherine Whalen [00:05:31] So I guess I wanted to get your your key takeaways from the last, you know, a more than eight years of this growing interest.
Ken Webster [00:05:39] Well, the first thing to say is that I'm I'm obviously surprised and delighted that so many people find it so interesting when a lot of us have been working on this for quite a time. And it never really caught in the way that it has. And I think, yes, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation really helped spring that off. But they they did that at just the right time and they didn't plan this. What had happened was he'd had the big 2008 9 crash, financial crash.
[00:06:11] You had a spike because China was really pumping its system full of credit to get a compensatory approach. He only wanted activity to keep happening if they couldn't sell abroad so easily. So that pushed up commodity prices. A lot of speculation in that you only have to look at the graphs. So you've got this panic going on. Oh, the economy is not working. Oh, these resources are going to get short. You've got the continuing thing about carbon and climate change going on. And the key thing is you've got digital suddenly. Well, it really began to look like an important thing, you know, because the first sort of smartphone was only about 2007, I think something like that. You've got digital plus the problems of the economy in the world. You've got China on the go pollution problems. You've got all of these things come together and people got old. What somebody's got to do something about this and circular economy because it's got a economy in it. Rather than saying, I don't know whatever word you want, sounds more serious. It's got circular economy it. People thought and it's got a business angle to it because you can't do different things. You know, it's exciting. So I think it surprised me how fast it did move. But there was a considerable central effort at the time to try and frame this as a more positive. You know, it's taken from cradle to cradle and other things about a net positive approach. So that is not do less harm. It's it works in the other way. So that caught people's attention, I think, because it wasn't based around guilt in the individual. It was about, OK, we could design this differently. We can take a different metaphor group. We can build on this and digital means we can look at the business models again. And boy, we need to do something, but we need it to be positively framed. Now, all of these things did come together the beginning of 20 and well. And it gave it a big a big push. And so I always say digital meets business models, meets design and in many ways with positive spin offs for the other areas. So. OK. Was I was I surprised? Yes. About how quickly it took off. But when you look at it, the frame is exactly what organizations want to hear, because it's certainly it's a it's a very modernist approach, if you like. It sort of wants to deal with the problem of materials. It doesn't say we're going to deal with everything at one time. So it makes it easy to handle that way. It begs some questions, as other people have raised many times. Places like the EU, they were keen on things like they were worried about raw materials coming and going and whether they would be the right amount and who owned them. So it got it got institutional buy in and big businesses could see things in it as well. And of course, you add in, I think the main elements were that systems thinking approach, which was is coming along. That's how real world systems work. It's systemic and positive in order orientation. It built on the work of all of these other writers. Broungart, McDonough, Lovins, Janine Benyus, Gunter Pauli, ecetera and arrived at the right time in history. So. It's hard to say. What did the most good in all of that, but together it certainly created something.
[00:09:52] And then you've got the growing awareness, as you know, we saw with Blue Planet and other things about plastics and materials. There is a sense that a never mind the big upsets in terms of climate variation we've been having recently. People more and more are getting the idea that something has to be done really very differently. But it still has to work with with business and with the economy. So.
[00:10:19] It's it's surprising in the way it's moved so quickly, but thank heavens it has in a way. The problem is more how to keep the focus on. It's a way of thinking. It's about system conditions. And there's a spinoff for business. What tends to happen? People go. What can I do in my business to get a bit more revenue and also cut down the resources? Which is fine, but without the context, it's like having the middle bit out of a sandwich. Okay, but usually your mum or your dad, whoever's tells you not to do that. You should eat the whole thing. Otherwise it's just bacon or tofu or whatever you're into. And I think that's the big challenge in a way that people think, oh, we can just get on with them doing business as usual. We'll do something with the materials or make a bit more revenue and we'll cut down some resources. Which is, again, as Elliot said, that's not what I meant at all. So that that's the big challenge, if you like, is keeping the eye on the systems. Thing won't work in the end without a shift of those things.
Katherine Whalen [00:11:29] And how do we how do we do that going going forward? Do you have good examples of how that's being being done already?
Ken Webster [00:11:37] Well, no, not good examples of good people. You see, it's an example you're asking. An old thing in a way. OK. I'll put it this way, because people say always show me an example. People tend to get into this sort of supermarket framework, which is OK. Circular economy. I get it. Where can I get it? Off the shelf. Where can I? No, I understand that. Now, where can I buy it from the shelf. And it would be OK. Now, it's really a narrative, it's a story about how we produce and consume. It's a story about relationships with people, resources, you know, and so and so on. Now, if you go back a bit in history, just to the end of the Second World War, we decided after a terrible war that what we really wanted to do was make sure employment stayed high. We could use government expenditure to make sure there wasn't any lack of demand. And that worked very well for 30 years. On a largely national economies will keep infrastructure, cheap, free healthcare, cheap, cheap housing and all the rest of it. That was an economic narrative about how we do things, but it really pushed down on finance. It didn't. Finance is highly controlled in that period and they ended up with inflation and a lot of firms not wanting to invest because inflation meant they weren't really making any money. But for 30 or 40 years, another story had been developing in the wings and it was ready to go by the end of the seventies. And that was that more we can do this. We can get jobs and employment by letting finance free, limiting governments and putting all of the energy into a more market orientated think. Now, that then took over for 30, 40 years until 2008. And we're now in a period where people don't quite know what to think. But yes, I think circular economy is part of another story about the economy, which is beginning to emerge. Right. Yeah. And that's when I. When people say, can you show me how it works? Well, I could say we could talk about the framework for thinking. We could talk about enabling conditions. We could talk about maybe basic income. We can talk about different scales. The story, which brings it all together is yet to be written. Maybe you can write it, Katie. But you know, it really it's a narrative. It's about how do we make sense of where we are now? And that is never usually done by examples because they switch to the more financial orientated, market orientated thing was it was sophisticated. I can hear a set of stories about how things would work differently. And people believed it. Harari You know that right turn. Yuval Harari, the Israeli academic, he's always said that it's that the story, the social story that is most convincing. It doesn't have to be true. It has to be a fiction we can live with. So at the end of the 70s, we got fed up of conflict between Labor and the government and businesses and inflation. And in Britain, there was a something called a three, three day week. You know, the economy was seemed like it was crumbling.
[00:14:52] And so people wanted an alternative story. They could try out. So when you say can you give me a good example. As though we pick it up from examples, I would ask you another's to say what your news story. What's the story that's more convincing than the story we've got now? Then I think we'll see other things falling into place. That's where I started to say, I know you can pick up clues. Oh, look what this. But you only pick up clues. You don't create a narrative that way. If I put it in two lines like this, I got this from. From talking to a couple of people. The first rule in Circular economy is don't kill your customer, that the words don't make it toxic. But the second rule is don't kill their custom. In other words, businesses need customers. And if the economy you're doing doesn't make sure they have income to buy well-designed products and services. What's the point? Just not killing them with toxics doesn't answer the other question about, well, don't poison them, but don't kill their ability to be a customer. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Quite like those two things together because that tells me it's more than just about that materials flow. It's about humans as customers for enterprise and business. They they need income. Where are they going to get it? You've got to answer that as well as is that poisonous? Is that toxic? Is that harmful?
Katherine Whalen [00:16:25] Yeah, I think sometimes we forget about the social aspect of that. When you were talking, I was reminded of the TED talk by Simon Sinek who talks about start with 'Why'. And so it's the purpose of 'why'; why are we doing this? What is the goal? It goes: Why?, How? What? So actually going into the details is the last part of it.
Ken Webster [00:17:02] Yes, because what you're doing and if you do the other way is you've assumed the purpose. You've assumed that way we do it now is just fine. You just need to tweak it up a bit. In other words, no relationships really change. You just get technically more efficient, which is, as he pointed out, you point out exactly the wrong way to do it. You won't attract people if you don't answer that question first. Why? Why are we doing it? How should we do it? And then you know what it is we need to do. Yeah, good. I like that.
Katherine Whalen [00:17:31] I was thinking because you talk about leaky loops and about like who who benefits. And I think in the DIF, Disruptive Innovation Festival video from 2018. You were talking about the cherry blossom tree. And when the leaves fall, they don't benefit, just the tree they came from. So yeah, I see this. It could be a challenge. How do we control - or not maybe not control - but how do we ensure the right system conditions? So it's not just benefiting one firm, for example, but also for other firms going back to that sort of cherry blossom tree?
Ken Webster [00:18:08] Well, well, yes. not cherry blossom tree. It's a cherry tree which is in blossom. And that's the old Michael Brown story about all of that. Blossom is there in spring. And it's not all needed. Most of it's inverted commas, waste, but of course, it isn't. That allows it to be, if you like, generous. And this is what Janine Benyon says all the time. Be generous because if you like, if you feed the forest, not just the tree. I've used that one. The trees are fed by feeding the forest. It's it's it's how things fit in the system. And he can't just say we're not going to play with the system anymore. We're going to stand separate as though it was last person standing, probably a man, last man standing because they've got the ego to that and then will fail. They say it's it it is a perspective. Now, let's look at the game of football. The foot ball game is endlessly interesting. Apparently.
[00:19:14] Why? It's interesting, but it only has very few rules. Relatively speaking, it's got all of this variety, but very few rules. And everybody knows what the rules are. And they just get on with having a great time in the game with all its variety, with its winners and losers and champions. And, you know, people just aren't very good at it. Now, that's the thing we ought to be looking for. It's not controlling engines. You mentioned it. It's getting the system conditions that would enable waste his food, enable regenerative activities, would enable earning profits. And, you know, all of these things at the same time. At the moment, it's more like let's take a bunch of nature and then close it. Now that we control it, we can extract value from that. And since it was a free gift, we're not really going to pay for that and we're not going to pay for the impact that we have on the broader system. Which is it? That's an a movement towards what's called. Well, it's called enclosure. Enclosure of the commons. Well, that's been going on for hundreds of years in different ways. It is to, you know, the capture, oh, in Britain, there was had to be a charter of the forests in 12, 17. That's 800 years ago trying to make it possible or to maintain the rights of peasantry and the rest of it to go into woodlands and get dead words, you know, feed acorns to the pigs and things like this. It wasn't about the big trees, which the landowner owned. It was about getting a living as well. And that is part of that conflict between, if you like, enclosing a resource and enabling people to get a living from it as well. You know, where is the boundary now with things like very sophisticated intellectual property, with dominant web platforms and so on. You tend to have this enclosure of data, enclosure of other forms of commons. Now, this is part of a very long dialog, if you like, backwards and forwards. Now it seems that you can have a very productive economy if it circulates, but not so productive economy if it's extractive. And this is Doug Rushkoff talks about it a lot. He says we need an economy which circulates income and wealth, not one that extracts it because it isn't fed back in. It's the it's the circularity. Principle is like saying all of the nutrients will go into the tree and it doesn't matter. There's nothing else there for anything else. You'll just have to wait 200 years for the tree to die. Then you can have the nutrients back. So you get a very strong intuitive sense that you want to circulate rather than extract. Yeah. And I think that's helpful. You can't have a circular economy, which is extractive. Well, you could technically. That's interesting, but it would be a circular economy owned by very few players. Who would control ownership and access of of all significant assets. And people would have to pay to get those now, whether it was cheap and cheap forever or whether it started cheap and got more expensive. There is a lot of debate about that. There's not a great record of monopolies or oligopolies doing great deals for the customer.
Katherine Whalen [00:22:47] I guess that's kind of what I was was getting at, was thinking, you know, how do you see the type of circulation that people are talking about? How do you see it getting picked up in practice? Is it this first type that you were explaining or this sort of second type?
Ken Webster [00:23:03] Well, there is a nice way out of that, because if you understand these types of systems, these types of systems are all fractal. You know, let's just take these blood circulation system. There's the big channels, the heart arteries, blah, blah, and there's the masses of kilometers or miles of capillaries which do all exchange stuff. Now, what can we learn from that? Because it seems that most of these sorts of systems have the similar structure, that fractal, and they have an element of it, which is efficiency, which is the big pipes. And there's an element of it which is about exchange and writers like Sally going and whatever we've talked about the flow element or the big flow, which is towards efficiency in the big pipes and the resilient exchange through many nodes and networks in in the capillary things. So it might say and cities look like this to Geoffrey West has written extensively about scale and cities and they're very self similar all over Europe, for example, our cities. So what do we have here? What's the insight? Well, it might be you require some goods which probably come from a long way off or for where large scale really is beneficial. It's no denying economies. Hell, no. So the big flows, they will be having few firms and it would lower the cost of access and ownership. OK, well, what about the other side? This is the clever thing in a way from the theory. The theory says that actually you cannot run a system just on efficiency. You have to reach all of the people in the system. You know, if it's a city, it's going to be all citizens have have to be reached. But all citizens are not just dumb consumers waiting to have a sliced loaf thrown at them from a from a supermarket. Traditionally, people are producers as well as consumers, and they're citizens as well as well. I know shoppers. So. Traditionally, in these cities and in all of these systems, it's the exchange function, which is where the action really happened. Yeah. If your blood doesn't go to every cell. Well, it's. It's okay for a short while, but eventually things are going to go badly wrong. So you need, if you like, the big flows with the efficient firms, but you need the ability to exchange and cascade materials and energy through a very resilient network. You know, if you bruise your hand, you're not gonna die from that. Usually it's going to reroute and then repair. Now, if I did that to my artery, it's well, it's very short interview in the 70s. It's bye bye, Katie. I hope you have a nice life. Know, cause it's it's efficient, but it's brittle. And so if you have these two elements are part of every complete system. It might say, well, actually, we need two sets of policies, the ones we tend to use now, which is about the big flows, lowering the cost of access and ownership, a gun to poly and others have often talked of the blue economy thing. He's talked about adding value with what we have. Multiple cash flows and he's talking about economies of scope. They're called economies of diversity. It's means that you don't focus and go to scale in a big way, that you might be more that it's quite place specific. It's with materials that are within a limited range, say the city, and it's about exchange in a number of ways. It's you might have multiple cash flow, say a coffee shop or whatever. You got the coffee grounds, you've got the different inputs and outputs and you've also got relationships with the customers. But if you go bust in a little coffee shop, nobody really cares. You can go down the road and find another one. It's got a resilience built in. So what would it mean in terms of policy? Well, first of all, you decided you need both. You need the big firms and you need the other ones, the small ones in their hundreds of thousands. So the policy is on one side, we've discussed it much like low in the cost of access and ownership. What are the policies and the inside? Well, if you think that all of these firms are marginal. They don't have much capital. They just don't. Yeah, they marginal. There's lots of materials they can make use of that are flowing around and in the city if they're given a chance. And that's that question of if they're given the chance. It would point to the fact that in order to be more directly exchanging with each other, they have to have low cost and usable infrastructure. Now, that infrastructure is already familiar notes popping up all over the place, Barcelona, Amsterdam. It includes things like community kitchens, includes may collapse. It includes temporary material storage. It might include new marketplaces either online or physically. So the key two to two firms which don't have capital is a policy which encourages it encourages economies of scope, which is exchange in a multitude of ways. And I always use the example of Berlin after the fall of the Berlin Wall in East Berlin particularly was really cheap. So lots of creative types and enterprising types and archetypes it over the cheap properties in the East Berlin. And it became a community of very interesting and innovative activity until prices went up over time. So it may be that the policy to enable these cascaded economies of scope are low cost infrastructure, deliberate infrastructure. Not to say we will make that do this with it. It's more we will put some of this infrastructure in place. You have a go at it. You do things. And if it's really good, we'll add in a bit more because you see public sectors infected with this idea. You don't get people earning money into the you can prove the output. Well, that's not how you don't study until cite that if you don't say, I want you termites to do exactly what you've signed up for, what you do is you make some if you'd like, some states you're trying to encourage jumps and tells you make some space available. Make sure it's reasonably well drained. Make sure as a food source around. And then you say, go on and have a go. And if they're really successful, they have a great anthill. And if they're not, well, you know, it didn't work. And that's that other part of the acceptance when you're working on small scales with highly resilient but flexible businesses. You don't have to program the output. You have to program in the opportunities which they might have to do creative things. That's how I see it anyway.
Katherine Whalen [00:29:55] Yeah. No, I think I mean, there's a lot from hearing you talk about this and a lot of opportunity for innovation and entrepreneurship and creativeness like with entrepreneurship. You, you know, quickly pivot all the time. So it's just kind of like this enabling conditions. If you have sort of some sort of food source and some some boundaries. You're kind of working in. And then all of a sudden, you know, you just can, you know, try something, see what works, what doesn't work. Yeah. Quickly pivot to something else and find the collaborators.
Ken Webster [00:30:28] You need to do that. Yeah. And oddly, this is I mean, talk about physical infrastructure or, you know, platform cooperatives, cheap, cheap exchange software, if you like, or software that enables exchange. But don't forget, it might be another element that's creeping up on the horizon now, which is to say these entrepreneurs need time and space to be able to get their thinking together and collaborate with people and try things. And this is one of the reasons why many people are quite keen on our basic dividend or our basic income, because it says, OK, you know, fairly into your ideas, but because you don't have any capital and because if you get it wrong in three months, you'll be on the street. Yeah. How much how much are you going to take that risk? It's OK if mommy and daddy have given you 10000 euros to give it a go. But if mummy and daddy don't have 10000 euros, you are really walking on the edge. And yet you might be a young, very vibrant, clever group of people, a personal group of people. And you just need more time to find out what fits. As you say, you need time to pivot and alter and get creative. So some people say part of that infrastructure for a more resilient city is something like a basic dividend or a basic income, because you know that, you know, plenty of arguments around that. But what I think is interesting from Circular economy point of view is to say, stop just talking about a bunch of plastics or a few components and trying to make that into a fancy story. You're trying to describe a different way of looking at how the system works in terms of practice, components, materials, entrepreneurship and business. You're describing a different ecosystem, if you will, forgive the use of the word, I think, in a proper sentence. Now that it is an ecosystem you're trying to help create. You're not saying let's find your way of going to scale. And how do we use efficiency? That's the story of only one side of the circular economy. That's for those big firms that do some of the big flows. You know, I don't think iPhones are going to be made locally in Ghent, for instance, or something like that.
Katherine Whalen [00:32:46] Now, be interesting to see.
Ken Webster [00:32:51] So I have that view that we have both of these elements in both of these approaches, both the efficiency and the effectiveness that's in the theory. We have to be able to have different policies to structure and support, whether it's the periphery or whether it's the core. And because they've got different functions. One is exchange and one is flow. That's that's quite logical to me. It's not a difficulty, but it's not where the thinking has gone so far. It's gone on to saying you're a firm, make a sound circular. It's make. How do we make the system secure and how would you fit? Is this is the real question, you see? Because we tend to look at things individual out rather than saying, well, let's look system and in.
Katherine Whalen [00:33:37] Yeah, I'm trying to process all of this. No but I'm thinking also for my own research as well. I was looking at like some as a means. They're they're taking these these leaks in the system and they're trying to make loops from that. And as you've said, how policy could help enable them is very different than these larger firms that.
Ken Webster [00:34:02] So indeed, it is very different. But it's something to be that you don't get a conflict in the way you say look for the big firms, we help them with lowering cost of access and ownership. But they could do a lot themselves because they could invest in it for the other firms. They need a platform on which to build on and they work differently. They're never going to be big firms that are going to spread by replication, not by scale. Which is another thing from living systems, because living systems grow bison as cells are splitting. Yeah, they don't. They don't say. I could imagine a great big tree. Let me be a tree. No, it's lots of cells. So this is. I think a parallel useful parallel with cities and firms. Yeah. So don't cry. Don't cry for the coffee shop that goes bust. Just wonder whether there's enough opportunity for different sorts of businesses to pop up. I think we just have to stop talking only about the big flows.
Katherine Whalen [00:35:04] Yeah. And looking at the exchange function, that function as well.
Ken Webster [00:35:07] So we have to have both and they do. This is how real world systems are. Yeah, they're fractal. You know, it's not as though, oh, we've just invented that. It's saying that we've been using living system analogies quite a lot in Circular economy for decades. Let's just follow it to where it leads.
Katherine Whalen [00:35:24] Yeah. I'm reminded also from just the interviews that I have been doing with other people as well as us. It keeps reminding me about it's like global and local and the connection between the two of them, big scale and small scale.
Ken Webster [00:35:39] It's a scale question. Very often it's a question of scale. And then the policies and activities that happen because of scale and function, which is why I'm bringing in. Yes. So in that sort of economy would describe there, there would be much more circulation, if you like, because there's so many more businesses doing things at a small scale. They aren't able to extract and accumulate because they don't have any market power. Whereas on the other side, with the big firms that do extract. That's what regulation is forward to say. Can we take a share of that, please? Because some of it's not not really competitive. It's. So you should pay a little bit and you don't and treat everybody with the same rules and then you're happy with with profit and returns. It's just about making sure the system is mostly circulatory with enough rewards to make it interesting for those who are in that.
Katherine Whalen [00:36:34] Yeah, that's it. That's the type of system that gets me excited. So yeah, I think maybe this is a good transition. To the final question that I ask all of the interview guests about the type of that in the live event card they would create. So what kind of event would you potentially create or what kind of focus of an about what you wanted to create?
Ken Webster [00:37:01] Well, I mentioned it once, but I think one of the keys to so much of this change is a basic dividend. Okay. Yeah. You know what? What would that do if everybody say in Europe and whenever I had a basic dividend, which was their share of the Commons, if you like, their share of the benefit that's come out of data, out of materials and everything and the infrastructure we have. What would that do? And you might say we didn't do anything because we're only talking about other firms. I dunno what it might do. It might not be shocking enough. It's sort of. Oh, well, that's nice.
[00:37:39] I heard it, but I think it is in a way it's a subtly disruptive event. And if that happened, I think you'd get a huge flowing through of creativity people. And it would have a people would approach things differently in terms of sometimes we are because we're stressed, we're just do distraction activities. I want to buy something new. I want to do something different. I want to go shop. Whereas if they were more settled and calm because they had that security in their income, they might go, oh, yeah, I really they think differently about it. So that's why I don't think it really suits your game because it's not immediately objective enough. But that's what I would answer, because I think so much will depend upon feeding the money back into the base to enable people to feel reassured and calmer and be able to make better choices about what they want to get involved in.
Katherine Whalen [00:38:33] It would be very interesting to think about something like that. And maybe that is part of the story.
Ken Webster [00:38:41] Yes, I'm happy. Yeah, but it's where you want to draw the boundaries. And I know you came a bit and probably wouldn't fit so much, but the next the next iteration.
Katherine Whalen [00:38:51] Yeah.
Ken Webster [00:38:52] Well, I mean it's a fact. It's a fantastic thing and I'd love to work together on. I'm interested in gaming in ways of prompting people to think. That's right. Always interested in your your work. It's how do you get people to think differently? Gaming is one way to do it.
Katherine Whalen [00:39:09] Yeah. Well, thank you so much for coming on and talking about your experiences. Where can listeners go to learn more about you and the topics we discussed?
Ken Webster [00:39:19] Well, my pleasure, Katie. Most people know I have my book, Circular Economy: A Wealth Flows. Unfortunately, it's still a little bit expensive, but you can get it cheap on Kindle. That's one thing. I'm writing a new book, so there'll be something on that later this this year. If I did, but I would always point to some of the not me. I would point to some of the people I found most impressive. And if you can, it is always very controversial if you can watch some of the recent videos from Gunter Pauli. He's very much into enterprise that works as quite he's quite controversial and provoking, but that's his point. I think he's trying to help us learn. He's not trying to make. His friends, you know. And then. And I think that's an important difference. He has confidence in the way he thinks about it. That makes it very interesting. So if you bounce into that the later again to parody things, you will have your brain slightly rearranged. Even if it's to the extent that you now know what you don't like. Yeah, well, I would go to that. I would go to that for fun. And the other thing I would do is always pick up on some of the things that that Bill McDonough and Michael Browngartn got do. And that's not quite my last things. Very interesting book. Just come out called A Finer Future from Hunter Lovins and Anders Wickman, Kate Raworth was did the introduction. That's a very Stewart Wallace and John FULLERTON. That's a very fine book covering most of these bigger issues around, you know, for them, circular economy as part of looking at the world different more systems perspective. It's their way of summarizing all of that. So it's called A Finer Future. It's really easy to track down. So I would read that if you wanted to get a big picture sense of where some of the thinking is.
Katherine Whalen [00:41:17] That's all for today's episode. Notes and links to resources mentioned in today's episode. Head over to our website, GettingintheLoopPodcast.com. While you're there, you can also subscribe to our mailing list so that you never miss an episode. Thanks for listening and see you next week.
About the Show
Getting In the Loop is a weekly podcast dedicated to exploring how to transform to a more circular society. Join host Katie Whalen as she examines the challenges facing our current resource use and discovers alternatives to the ‘take, make, dispose’ way of doing things. Each week she interviews circular economy experts about what they’re doing and learning. Together we'll uncover what circular economy means in practice and find out what's being done to keep our resources in a loop rather than sent to waste.