An Interview with Catherine Weetman

Hi everyone, thank you for reading another Sustainable Saturday blog. This week I did an interview with the amazing Catherine Weetman!

Catherine is an author, speaker, and activist in creating environmental and resilient methods in business and sustainability. She is the Founder of ‘Re-Think Solutions’ www.rethinkglobal.info; They offer coaching, talks, workshops and advice for businesses looking to use sustainable, circular approaches. She is also a Visiting Fellow at the University of Huddersfield and the Vice-Chair of the ‘Environment and Sustainability Forum’, CILT (UK).

Catherine also creates and contributes to The Circular Economy Podcast in which the individual and shared benefits of the circular economy are explored.

On a personal level, Catherine’s book, Circular Economy: A Handbook for Business and Supply Chains: Repair, Remake, Redesign, Rethink has been an invaluable resource to my research into maintaining an eco-friendly business. I’m sure that’s the same for many others too.

I recently did an interview with Catherine to gain more of an understanding as to what the circular economy is and why this approach is important.


How would you define a ‘circular economy’? 

The easiest way is to contrast it with the way we live now. Generally, we take some materials, make something, use it and then throw it away – take, make, waste. We call that a ‘linear’ or throughput economy, but we could call it a waste economy.

We’re using up valuable (and finite) resources and creating waste, pollution and Greenhouse Gas emissions. The circular economy aims to keep resources in the system instead of discarding them, by ‘designing waste out’. That means we change:

  1. From fast to slow: Are there products we can keep for longer? Good quality, timeless designs, repairable, upgradable and desirable, so we can resell them when we’ve finished with them.
  2. From me to we: Instead of owning things, we have access to what we need. That might be sharing (car-share and public transport), renting (clothing and tools), or paying for a service (pay-per-use home appliances)
  3. From consuming to caring: do you even need this? Are you choosing the most circular and sustainable product, sold by an ethical company? Is it made of sustainable (recycled or abundant) materials? Who made it and were they treated fairly? Is it made locally and using green energy?


Why should we care about sustainability and its effects? 

We can already see how the climate and biodiversity emergencies are affecting us. In the UK, we are suffering hardship from the change in weather patterns, seeing floods, wildfires and droughts.

Farmers are losing crops, and living systems are struggling to thrive. That means we lose the benefits of natures’ pest control, pollination and cleaning up services. We’re discovering new problems from the way we’ve industrialised everything: micro plastics in our food chain, persistent and toxic chemicals in our houses, soil degradation and water pollution.

Overseas, we can see similar problems and worse. In many places, people are struggling to get the basics. It’s not about some distant, future problem. It’s a problem here and now, for all of us, and a problem we can solve.


Why is a circular economy important? 

It’s the best tool we have, for a sustainable society, where we can have enough, for all of us, forever. It’s a great way of keeping local jobs, reducing waste and emissions, and avoiding competition for scarce resources.

Establishing and maintaining a circular economy will ensure prosperities for us and simultaneously certify protection for nature. This is because these methods are fundamental in creating a society which rewards itself whilst also enriching nature. Plus they are something which we must all adapt in order to ensure a sustainable future for ourselves and the planet. 

Huge thank you to Catherine for doing this interview with me. I’m really looking forward to seeing what she does next!

Written by Leah Bennett


16 May 2020