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During the extraordinary period of lockdown due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), school children were asked how we could build towards a more Circular Economy, inspired by the Making Circles project.

During lockdown, schools, museums, shops and businesses remained closed to prevent the spread of the virus. It was a difficult time, causing loss of income, loneliness and anxiety about the future.


There were also positive stories, and many of them struck a chord with elements of the Circular Economy such as strong communities, better air quality or sharing things rather than owning them. These could help us to ‘build back better’, towards a more Circular Economy.

It is when our world turns upside down - and we are all forced to adapt - that some of the best and greatest inventions take place.
- Kim Crosbie, Polar Explorer, May 2020

Kim Crosbie, Polar Explorer

“Our world has turned totally topsy-turvy. Overnight things that were so normal and routine that we didn’t even think about them are no longer possible - right down to even being able to hug our loved ones.

"But often it is when our world turns upside down - and we are all forced to adapt - that some of the best and greatest inventions take place.

"Now is an EVEN better time for everyone to become more inventive and learn to rethink what they have as we are literally forced to stop buying things and make do with what we have.  

"What can you invent? Personally, I am ridiculously proud of my myself for turning an old bookshelf into a raised bed for herbs and salad plants. Only one morning I found a fox lounging on the second shelf contemplating the universe with his backside languishing in an aromatic bed of marjoram. I still love my bookshelf raised bed - even if it is only as a fox's sofa!” 

Dr Kim Crosbie

5 ways of building back better

School children, inspired by the Making Circles project, voted for five ways we could 'build back better' based on their experiences during lockdown.

"The Circular Economy is our generation's Man on the Moon challenge"

1. Fresh air for all

"During lockdown, transport use reduced, we walked and cycled more, air quality improved and wildlife came back into our cities."

"When I go on a bike ride with no traffic on the road, I can go down the Mound without a single car in sight, the air is fresher and cleaner and it's lovely to hear the birds sing." Millie (age 12)

“People need to be careful with nature. The air is cleaner because there are no planes. All animals are getting a chance." Thomas (age 7)

During lockdown, a reduction in pollution meant people enjoyed cleaner air.

2. Making things last

"During lockdown, we bought less and only what we needed. We repaired, re-used and recycled and used less packaging by buying in bulk.

"I have been looking in my recycling with different goggles. I have made a rocket for my teddy, beeswax wraps, pinatas and baked bean plant pots. I would not have done this before lockdown." Gus (age 8)

"I learned to sew and made a face mask and a scrunchie from old leggings." Olivia (age 11)

"When I was at school, every lunch, we used paper plates. So every day, we threw away our plates, our cutlery and our glass. It wasn’t reusable, so it was harmful for the planet. Now I use a real plate to eat with my family, and it is better for the environment." Arthur (age 10)

In lockdown, we've been making things last by recycling, reusing and repairing. 

3. Mindset for change

"The lockdown is proof that we can change how we live to help our planet. We can live without shopping for joy and we can travel less or in a pollution-free way – and we can still be happy!"

"We must help nature, animals, plants and people. It’s always better to do something now and not put it off to later days. Being inspired by nature – in nature there is very little waste and plants and animals can give us some great ideas for Circular Design." Taisija (age 11)

"We don’t have to go to the shops so often, we save time, we save money, we have more time to learn new things." Hannah (age 8)

A Circular Economy could be better for our world.

4. Stronger communities

"Often people are too busy to know their neighbours. Now everyone’s at home and lots of people need help so people are helping their neighbours."

"I never really talked with my neighbours but now we check everyone is ok and we help a neighbour with her shopping, recycling and anything else she needs and in return she bakes us delicious cookies." Archie (age 13)

"I found a hand painted rock labelled Finders Keepers with an email address. I was so happy to find such a lovely rock and my sister thought it was a rock fairy. We emailed to say thanks for such a lovely surprise at such a rough time." Imogen (age 9)

People have been leaving out boxes of toys, books and plants for neighbours to share.

5. Making the most of technology

"People don’t have to travel to have an hour-long meeting when you can have it in your own home with your computer."

"I couldn’t celebrate my Grandmother’s birthday in person. I took a virtual violin lesson and learnt to play happy birthday. I used WhatsApp to share the song with my Grandmother. I showed my Grandmother how much I cared for her in this difficult time." Perrie (age 8)

"I had my 10th birthday during lockdown. My parents arranged for my family to sing to me on Messenger. It was nice and my mum made me a cake. I have been learning Spanish during this time using an app and it has been a lot of fun." Ethan (age 10)  

"I have online classes, so teachers can't print documents anymore. I hope it will help people be more careful when using our planet’s resources." Salomé (age 15)

"Because I have been allowed to play more online I have made a lot of new friends. Some of them are in Canada and I now have a pen pal in Ottawa as well as friends in Sheffield and Edinburgh." Ben (age 11)     

Technology is enabling us to travel less but still keep in touch with friends and family.

  • 3.4B Fewer Cars Means Less Pollution And A Chance For Wildlife To Thrive

    Fewer cars mean less pollution and a chance for wildlife to thrive.

  • 3.7B Wildlife Has Been Coming Back Into Our Cities, Like These Sheep On A Roundabout

    Wildlife has been coming back into our cities, like these sheep on a roundabout.

  • 3.9B People Are Only Buying What They Really Need And Reusing Packaging So There Is Less Waste

    People are only buying what they really need, and using less packaging so there is less waste.

  • 3.10B Some Products Like Flour And Washing Up Liquid Are Now Coming In Much Larger Containers Meant For Restaurants

    Some products like flour and washing up liquid are now coming in much larger containers meant for restaurants

  • 3.14B People Have Been Setting Up Virtual Tool Libraries To Share With Neighbours

    People have been setting up virtual tool libraries to share with neighbours

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