Learning circular economy as a natural part of society

13th of May

The idea of circular economy as a natural part of society is an integral part of EduTAT’s and Economy and Youth TAT’s learning concepts ever since the co-operation between Sitra and TAT started in 2017. Tens of thousands of pupils and students in Finland familiarize themselves with circular economy and the possibilities it creates in the Me & MyCity, Me & MyGlobe and Me & MyBusiness learning modules.

Without a functioning environment a functioning economy and society become impossible. The IPCC environmental report from 2018 focuses our attention on the fact that cutting down emissions is something that must be done right now. Without circular economy this change in direction will not be successful. Circular economy means that all consumption is based on services that are used, shared, rented and recycled instead of owned. The link between the overconsumption of natural resources and financial abundance is severed.

 

The miniature society for sixth graders deals with raw materials instead of trash

 

For sixth graders circular economy is visible in the new practices at the Finnish Me & MyCity (Yrityskylä). Talking raw material collection points speak whenever you put a piece of material inside. The voice tells the kids what can be manufactured from the specific recycled raw material. These modern, talking trash cans guide the pupils into thinking of waste as raw material, but in a fun way!

Me & MyCity no longer recycles waste but raw materials.

The Me & MyCity learning environment hosts around 20 small businesses and public services. One of them in the Finnish Me & MyCities is Puuta ltd. a fictional company, that manufactures scalable, solid wood building modules that can be added or subtracted from a building based on its usage rate. The company specializes in schools and other public buildings. This fictional and future thinking company is also used as an example in the Me & MyGlobe learning environment’s game day where ninth-graders compete as teams that manage Puuta ltd. by manufacturing products and selling them in the global marketplace.

The learning materials that prepare pupils for the Me & MyCity and the Me & MyGlobe visits include circular economy as a natural part of society. The pupils must for example think about the ways a product can be developed into a service. In addition, all Me & MyCity’s have professions where the main focus is to ponder fe. more sustainable solutions in housing, city planning and food supply.

 

Circular economy provides new business opportunities

 

The Me & MyBusiness courses provide digital learning materials for upper secondary and vocational school students. The courses are split into three different topics. Circular economy is a recurrent theme through the course entity, especially in the Global markets course.

The Global markets course looks at international trade from multiple different points of view, focusing on megatrends in economy and the opportunities and challenges that globalization brings to global economy. Students get accustomed to sustainable business practices and why they are so important in the modern working place. Circular economy is studied as a phenomena. 

The message the course wishes to convey to the students is that protecting the environment and caring about economy actually go hand in hand. Circular economy is about longer life cycles for commodities and reusing materials. Circular economy provides new and exciting opportunities for business.

 

Päivi Kosunen
Circular Economy Specialist
TAT

 

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