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Circular Stories: Showcasing the Pioneers Putting Theory into Practice

As the Circular Economy emerges, storytelling plays a central role. Beyond logic and rationale, systems level change relies on the clear communication of purpose, meaning and values. 

Ellekari Klaasse and Marielle van Hemert are the co-founders of Circular Stories, a digital platform that showcases and supports entrepreneurs and SMEs pioneering Circular Economy practices. We chatted to the duo on HappyPorchRadio

Marielle has a background in business development, and when the pair met, she became interested in the potential of the Circular Economy to help companies achieve success while doing good.

“We started Circular Stories with the aim to connect people and close the loop in the circular economy,” says Ellekari, who wrote her Master’s thesis on the topic and was inspired to understand how the theories were playing out in the real world. 

Together, they decided to go and find out.

“We met so many interesting people at different levels of society and of the economy,” said Ellekari. From embassies to entrepreneurs, small businesses to large, the people they met had diverse goals, but shared a common purpose – to do the best for the world and make a positive impact.

Marielle and Ellekari captured their stories on video, and Circular Stories was born. 

The platform has evolved into a hybrid networking service, marketing agency and consultancy.

“If you want to take certain steps, we activate our network and source your question. We ask the best in the field... What is the latest technology? What did you try that did and didn't work?” explains Ellakari. “As consultants we bring all this knowledge together and give advice to our clients.”

This approach allows entrepreneurs and businesses to choose the path with the best potential while forging new partnerships. On the marketing side, the videos created for Circular Stories can also be shared and published by the subjects themselves. 

Of the many adventures they’ve had, one in particular stands out for Marielle. She was invited by a company called Myco Life to explore their operations in a beautiful part of Catalunya, Spain. Operating from the basement of an eco-hotel called L'Avenc de Tavertet, the company produces speciality mushrooms for nearby restaurants. Rather than sourcing their substrate from abroad, Myco Life joined an EU project called MycoRestore, which uses fungi to regenerate regional forests.

“Maintaining a healthy forest is quite expensive,” Marielle explains. “Deadwood is a fire hazard in the warmer months, but also has value as biochar. So they set up a program to collect the deadwood, increasing the safety and health of the forest while using this material as an extra resource to set up a biochar business.”

What’s more, Myco Life mixes their mushroom substrate with the biochar to produce a natural fertiliser for both the forest and local agriculture.

“It’s just a perfect symbiosis of the hotel, the mushroom company and the nature surrounding it, while creating jobs in forest maintenance.”

Having spoken to so many Circular Economy pioneers, Ellakari and Marielle noticed that those making the most progress had one thing in common: They had simply started doing it. 

“They source a network around them to make it possible, and get tiny bits of information. That’s way easier than applying whole frameworks and redesigning your process,” says Ellakari.

Highlighting and describing this practical approach through Circular Stories, the pair hope to inspire others to take the leap from theory to practice, and make circularity more accessible to all. 

As for the future of Circular Stories, the sky’s the limit. After reaching their short-term goal of publishing 100 stories, the duo have ambitions to become an international think tank for companies that want to go circular.

“After the hundred, we’ll aim for thousands, because all the people who are inspired by these stories have the chance to create their own circular story,” concludes Marielle. “We are happy to help them take the first step – there’s the beginning of a circular story around every corner.”

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About the author

Barry O'Kane

Barry is the founder of HappyPorch. With 20 years in the web development industry as a programmer and agency owner, he has a preternatural ability to decipher the systems and processes code that holds many teams back from achieving their goals. Partners say Barry gets to the root of issues quickly and makes it downright easy to deliver good work.    

While he's unbelievably grounded, it's not uncommon to find him sailing through the trees as he paraglides his way round the world.