Understanding circular economy in everyday life: Perceptions of young adults in the Finnish context.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

It is generally accepted that governments, municipalities, businesses and citizens alike have a role to play in transitioning towards a circular economy (CE). Yet most academic and policy discussions of CE revolve around technological solutions and business models. Although CE also means significant changes to ways of living, these aspects of CE are barely addressed. The citizen role is traditionally assumed to be that of a consumer or user of the newly developed solutions, while also following the guidelines for sorting and recycling. Little is known about how citizens envision being part of the CE, and what skills and competences are relevant for CE . Our study addresses this gap by exploring the perceptions of young adults in Finland on how CE reflects into their everyday lives. Our dataset consists of 249 responses from high school students in Finland to open-ended questions regarding CE. The results highlight that young adults in Finland strongly associate CE with recycling, waste sorting and re-selling/buying second-hand, which is in line with the conventional roles of efficient recyclers and consumers. Although CE harbors wider potential for more active citizen roles related to repair, maintenance and upcycling, these aspects are often overlooked in favor of more familiar lifestyles. Building on the 5R framework for CE and emerging themes from student responses, we bring forward the new roles of upcycler, thrifter, expert/learner, giver/benefactor and conservationist. Supporting these emerging roles is an opportunity for cooperation between young adults, other citizen groups, cities, policy makers and businesses, and a key for jointly advancing the transition to CE.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSustainable Production and Consumption
Volume26
Pages (from-to)759-769
ISSN2352-5509
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 511 Economics
  • Circular economy
  • Citizen roles
  • youth
  • Well-being
  • Sustainability education

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