CHALLENGE 4c: Community level circular products and services

This is Challenge 4c from the main Cape Town framework challenge



Note: All our challenges are collaborative. Skype, email or contact us if you want to work with us in real-time! Let’s make a better world for everyone together!

To develop circular economies at a local level, an assessment must be performed on each community to determine it’s resources, both human and material and ecosystem as well as all the challenges the community faces. Resources must be analyzed outside the community’s boundaries as well.

A leakage analysis must then be performed to determine what goods and services the community member spends its money on and what amount of capital is leaking outside the local economy to non-local producers.

Finally an import substitution strategy must be applied to substitute foreign produced goods and services with locally produced ones, aligned with education, upskilling, local resource sourcing, open source equipment manufacturing or procurement and capital investment.

Goods and services must also be designed in a circular manner. This design component can be outsourced from the virtual design community. Working with community cooperatives, all open source designs can be implemented through local community manufacturing cooperatives.


Activity: Global brainstorm session and begin initial design

The goods and services that can be locally produced must be diverse enough to support the livelihood and comfortable existence of the community. These include:

**CH 4c1: Community level renewable energy production ** - We are all reliant on the global energy grid. Is it possible to design energy systems at a community and even household level that can replace the vast centralized infrastructure of the fossil fuel industry created over the past two centuries? We tend to think of Solar PV and Wind in conventional forms but there are other small scale solutions that can potentially meet household demands.

CH 4c2: The Circular Kitchen - The kitchen is the heart of the typical household. Cooking and sharing of food is one of the central household activities that both bond a family and consume energy and material in the household. We can apply circular thinking here to reduce both material and energy resources. The object of this challenge is to collaboratively explore the linear processes in cooking and in the objects found in the kitchen. The end goal will be to create a website called The Circular Kitchen to serve as a portal for all things circular relating to the kitchen. and to be a directory for open source designs.

CH 4c3: Low tech products - There’s nothing wrong with low tech. What is required is appropriate tech and low tech can often meet that need, not need complex and inherently problematic electronic circuitry and the accompanying power requirements. At a time when rapid emissions reduction requires us to reduce our enormous energy footprint, it’s an eminently practical strategy in energy demand reduction. We draw a lot of our inspirations from around the internet but we have particular fondness of Kris De Decker’s lowtech and notech magazine websites:

where there is a wealth of ideas that, if implemented widely could dramatically cut down energy consumption on the demand side, the precise recommendation from the rapid emission reduction studies from Tyndall Centre

CH 4c4: Growing structures
This challenge is to tap into flora life’s propensity to form branches and foilage to create structures out of them. Think of it as an extension of plant grafting. Bioproduction by natural means consists of identifying appropriate plant species that can be shaped into forms that serve human function.

CH 4c4a: Grown furniture - We will explore extending the pioneering work of Gavin Munro of the UK and his company Full Grown featured in articles such as this Guardian UK one.

CH 4c4b:Growing homes


  • industrial design
  • engineering - hardware, software, mechanical
  • sociology
  • anthropology
  • community work

Related to the Circular Kitchen idea, this project might be worth checking out, just for the links to other resources if nothing else :slight_smile: Worth thinking about how kitchens fit into a wider picture of food and community and where the connections are.

Thanks for the resources! It’s a good approach…widen the circle of interconnections. Where food is, often there is food preparation, cooking, etc…