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Just make a start?

Author: Anne-Marie Rakhorst, entrepreneur, investor and publicist

For me, entrepreneurship is about creating as much positive impact as possible — not about emitting less, producing less or polluting less, but about doing the right things. In a circular economy, we only design intelligent products and buildings made from resources that are used continually within a technological or biological cycle.

Every product or building is, in fact, a stack of resources. This is why product designers and architects can contribute in the form of effective and smart designs. To begin with, this requires knowledge. Take the well-known packaging of crisps. Few people know how harmful these bags really are. They are multilayered — constructed of several layers of valuable resources that cannot be separated again. After use, they are only fit for incineration. How could we arrive at better solutions? We can only address such problems if we have the knowledge that is needed. Waving a finger at people and telling them not to buy such products does not exactly fire their enthusiasm. Instead, try and involve people in the solution.  

The transition towards a circular economy can be regarded as a change in system, which happens particularly from within. This is what entrepreneurs, large and small, are doing: they apply their entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation power to work on new, circular business models. I see new businesses, certainly those in the Netherlands, being more than prepared to make the change. Companies such as DSM show that they are able to reinvent themselves. I also have high hopes for disruptive players — smart and innovative entrepreneurs who are not afraid to do things differently.

To achieve full circularity in the Netherlands by 2050, a transition agenda was presented last January for five economic sectors. The agenda describes what will be necessary to achieve a closed loop production system and accelerate the transition. I chair the Transitieagenda Consumptiegoederen (transition agenda for consumer goods). We provide a platform for so-called icon projects. These are success stories that are not always visible yet. For example, a matrass manufacturer and a furniture producer are collaborating to turn old matrasses into beautiful new furniture. These types of projects offer a perspective for action and reflect love for the craft. They are positive messages that show what we are all capable of.  

Around the world as well as in the Netherlands, we have set some wonderful targets, but with tight deadlines. We need to accelerate our efforts and, in my opinion, the first thing to do is to ‘just make a start’. As soon as the first successes are achieved, others will follow. It is the snowball effect. My tip would be to do the things that touch your heart and which make you feel good. Genuine enthusiasm is always contagious.  

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