Interviewing Sitra’s Industrial Ecology Expert Lilli Linkola @OSCEDays in Helsinki

The Open Source Circular Economy Days is a global event arranged between June 11 and June 15 in 25 countries around the world. In Finland the OSCEDays culminated in Kiertotalouden kansalaispäivä (circular economy citizen day), where speakers, entrepreneurs, hackers and hippies gathered to talk about circular economy at a very practical level.

The event agenda consisted of various workshops and presentations, with an opening speech from Sitra’s leading circular economy expert Kari Herlevi. Among the different possible activities, attendees had the chance to make their own eco-soap, eat bugs, cook trash-food, make a lamp out of trash and have their clothes repaired in a workshop.

Mealworms being prepared.

Mealworms being prepared.

Ying-Ju Lin selling her eco-friendly soap.

Ying-Ju Lin selling her eco-friendly soap.

I was of course there buying eco-friendly soap, eating mealworms, and letting my inner hippie come alive, but I also got a chance to interview one of the organizers of the event, Sitra’s Lilli Linkola. You can listen to the interview below (in Finnish).

Linkola has a background in industrial ecology and civil engineering, and is currently working as an industrial ecologist at Sitra and as a creative engineer at LesCousines&Osk. She is also actively involved in Open Knowledge Finland, which is a non-profit association promoting the use of open knowledge and advancing the development of open society in Finland.

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Industrial ecologist Lilli Linkola.

Could you tell more about yourself, who you are and why are you organizing this event?

My name is Lilli Linkola, I am an industrial ecologist from Sitra, but that’s not the only thing I do. I have studied to become a sustainability engineer, and after completing my industrial ecology degree in Holland, I came back to Finland to gather a group of like-minded people to advance sustainable development in Finland. I am also actively involved in the Open Knowledge Finland association

Please tell us what circular economy is about.

Circular economy is about using resources in a sustainable way, so that materials could be used as long as possible and without depleting them. It means that the materials we use circle within society and economy. It’s also about how we use energy. Energy is basically abundant, because we have the sun pouring energy constantly at us, but we humans are a very peculiar species because we are the only beings on this planet that don’t use sun directly as their primary energy source. I guess we could say that circular economy is about using resources and energy in a more natural way.

When was the idea of a circular economy born?

The idea originated from the scientific study of industrial ecology. Industrial ecology has its roots in the 1980s, while the idea of a circular economy emerged in the 1990s. Later the term became more widely used when William McDonough and Michael Braungart coined the term cradle to cradle in the 2000s, and especially after Ellen MacArthur Foundation demonstrated the economic potential behind the concept.

What is Kiertotalouden kansalaispäivä and OSCEDays about?

These events are about demonstrating how our world and society works, and how we use energy and resources. Circular economy is a very abstract idea and creating the required systemic changes can feel quite overwhelming at first. We want to show people that making concrete changes and influencing the material flows of every day life is possible. Behind the OSCEDays is the ideology of the Maker Movement, which is about doing things yourself and not being solely dependent on technology made by others. OSCEDays is also about networking with other like-minded people and creating change together.

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