Cost of living crisis and the circular economy

Morton Fraser Debt Recovery Manager Jo Purdy
Jo Purdy
Debt Recovery Manager
15 September 2023

In the first of a series of 3 articles about the cost of living crisis, our Debt Recovery Manager Jo Purdy explores the positive outcome of the circular economy and asks are consumers and businesses merely following a trend or is this a necessity?  She looks at three ways the circular economy may help mitigate the ongoing cost of living challenges.

The situation:

The UK is suffering a cost of living crisis the like of which has not been seen for more than 30 years. The cost of essentials such as food, energy and fuel all remain high and inflation is proving incredibly stubborn.  As consumers feel the pinch, they are turning more towards the circular economy which is based on using less to deliver more and in doing so offers opportunities to help navigate the ongoing cost of living challenges. The following three areas resonate as cost effective and relatively easy ways to save some money, even in the short term.

1. Cutting food waste cuts food bills:

Circular economy principles have placed a spotlight on the UK manufacturing, retail, hospitality and food service sectors with mounting pressure to increase the amount of surplus being made available for redistribution. Technology is playing a huge role, providing access to data and information that allows consumers and businesses to reduce their own food waste. For example: -

Too Good to Go

On the Too Good to Go app, restaurants, cafes, and bakeries list leftover food which would otherwise be thrown away. Users can browse the app for food near them and pick up a 'magic bag' for a fraction of the retail cost. Registration for the app is free and considers dietary requirements. Trust me, you feel like you're in heaven when you open that 'magic bag' for the first time and see all the goodies for you!


NoWaste can scan receipts and barcodes, log your weekly shop and make lists of what’s in, plan meals and provide you with expiration reminders. A must for those of us who want to prevent food waste in our own homes at the touch of a button.

2. Second hand fashion:

Buying new clothes regularly can be expensive and has a significant negative environmental impact. Consumers agree that it's easier to shop second-hand than it was five years ago all thanks to the emergence of technology and online market places such as Vinted and Depop. Placing increasing importance on sustainability, extending the useful life of fashion items and slowing industry consumption, the circular economy has been the catalyst for an increase in second hand market places.

Many consumers are participating in this re-use model without even realising it, for example by donating clothes to a second hand shop or a friend giving you old clothes they no longer need or fit. these steps could drive longer term change by embedding sustainable shopping habits for the future even once financial pressures have eased.

3. Energy Efficiency in your home:

In addition to government initiatives such as insulation and heating measures for some consumers and businesses, smart home technology can help save you money on your bills too. Smart thermostats, along with apps which can measure and adjust a room's temperature, plus a programme which will instinctively adapts to your every day habits, can be useful and can save you money.

Let's wrap it up:

The circular economy continues to cause both consumers and businesses to innovate and is an important factor in reducing costs and protecting discretionary spending as rising interest rates and inflation puts pressure on the economy and all of our spending power.  Perhaps originally motivated by necessity, it's clear that the circular economy is here to stay and that's got to be a good thing!


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