The concept of circular economy is ubiquitous today. Companies already see the advantages and necessity of a transition from a linear to a circular society. But are consumers also on board with the circular economy philosophy? Doesn't the academic terminology surrounding circular thinking hinder the reaching of a wider audience and doesn't it exclude an important player, the (young) citizen?
Bold Branders, a project of Atopia vzw, investigates the possibilities of storytelling as an accessible and pleasant way to communicate about circularity. We believe that in this era, in which young people in particular are oversaturated with information via social networks, we should revert to one of the strongest and oldest means of communication: stories.
In the same way, we want to make people (re)value the objects they own. We want to make consumers and citizens more aware of their interaction with objects and materials and how this affects their everyday lives and surroundings. We want to achieve this by giving objects and materials a 'passport', as it were. We do this both fictitiously, where a piece of furniture becomes a character, for example, and non-fictitiously, where the passport clearly and transparently shows the path taken and the raw materials used.
Initially, we centralised our project around collecting stories from partners (by young people) and visualising them, and around the creation of material passports. Later on, we changed course and chose to write a novel about circular economy as a concrete starting point, with an accompanying book launch and a panel on communication and circular economy.
Bold Branders is a project by volunteers. Initially, we spread stories through social media. The hashtag #Furnistories was created. We told stories about furniture, focusing on a different relationship with pieces of furniture. A Facebook page with a lot of traction and a website were created.
We were present at numerous events to introduce people to circular economy, such as the Antwerp Fashion Exchange, the Inspiration Day smart and sustainable living in Kortrijk, the River Clean Up in Leuven ...
We published a novel, "If furniture could speak", a story full of emotion and passion, infused with circular ideas. It explains the principles of sustainability and circularity in an accessible and motivating way, and also incorporates our ideas on material passports.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
Bold Branders has given enterprising young people resources, experience and a network to experiment with storytelling around the circular economy. The focus was on letting everyone 'find their niche' and offering support. It was an opportunity for many to discover and try out a new passion.
Through the various social media channels and the book, we incorporated all our own learning lessons and hope to inspire new projects. We mainly created material for education and social debate, so that more and more people can learn about the circular economy.
Due to the large number of people involved and the fact that the volunteers had jobs, education, hobbies, etc. alongside the project, it was sometimes difficult to keep a clear goal in mind and to make progress. For two years, the project was a real learning process, with ups and downs and changes of direction.
Above all, the volunteers learned a great deal during the entire project. Besides the extensive introduction to the Flemish circular market, they improved their practical skills, learned how to organise and expanded their network. The project was also a real creative outlet.
180printed books in circulation
16.000views of the promo video
5blog posts for MO* Magazine
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
After this two-year project, we are still hungry. First of all, we want to continue with the book: promote it and introduce more and more people to circular economy. For example, in cooperation with the MAAKbar Leuven, we are going to hold a bookpresentation and organise a 'forest bath'. But we want to walk many other interesting circular paths. That is why we are going to set up our own non-profit organisation to continue the activities of Bold Branders. Two volunteers have also submitted an abstract to give a presentation on Bold Branders at the 4th Annual Sustainable Consumption Research & Action Initiative Conference in Stockholm. In addition, we would like to participate in the International Conference of Ecolinguistics in Liverpool, which will also address storytelling as a means of activation.