Skip to main content

Wood wide web for Circular Economy?

No that's not a typo, I do mean "wood wide web".

In the last #circularwandering I reflected on one way that a Circular Economy could be "antifragile" is local networks of independent parts [1].

Aside: in this context I am using "antifragile" to mean an ability to thrive (get stronger as a system) under large changes like climate change... or pandemics.

That led on to how this local networks could be supported and nurtured - not just to take the system to new levels of antifragility - but also to help create the networks in the first place.

As I have been learning a little about trees and forests, I am current interested in the analogy of the "Wood wide web". These are underground networks of fungi that allow trees to share nutrients and even information about insect attacks!

Aside: of course, climate change is going hurt these fungi globally and that is yet another climate change worsening feedback loop [2].

Anyway, I promised examples of the equivalent supporting & enhancing infrastructure for local circular economy networks.

Here are two:

  1. Sector organisations like CRNS [3] in Scotland. They are the "national membership body for the community reuse and recycling sector". Which means the connect, support and advocate for local community (often charitable) organisations that are, in turn, parts of a growing Circular Economy.
  2. Digital platforms. Include materials exchanges and marketplaces (like or or and circular business operating software (like or

Yes, I have finally come back around to digital software! These systems, created thoughtfully and implemented sensibly, are one aspect of our circular equivalent to the "wood wide web".



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.