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Upcircle's Guide to A Circular Economy

What Goes Around Comes Around

UpCircle are a sustainable beauty brand on a mission to reduce waste.

Repurposing common household items, especially coffee grounds, they've been at the forefront of a move away from the damaging culture of plastic microbeads in health and beauty products. Established as Optiat in 2015, founders Anna and Will Brightman rebranded to UpCircle in 2018, reducing their plastic packaging by 99% in the process. Armed with a wealth of knowledge, they take us through their tops tips for supporting a circular economy.

Tell Us More About UpCircle?

"We at UpCircle are fully committed to the circular economy. In fact, it’s the fundamental foundation that supports everything we do - we create pioneering skincare that’s regenerative by design,  turning leftover natural ingredients with more to give into quality skincare products."

From body and face scrubs using repurposed coffee grounds to an organic face serum with coffee oil, we’re all about a circular lifestyle. We’d love you to join us on our journey to help leave the world better than we found it, so use the discount code CIRCULAR on our site for 15% off!

upcircle products on shelf

The rumours are true. We need to do more to minimise waste, whether that’s recycling, reusing or upcycling. A new study by the Circle Economy gurus shows that only 9% of the 92.8bn tonnes of minerals, fossil fuels, metals and biomass that enter the economy every year are re-used.

Worse still, global use of materials is accelerating, having more than tripled since 1970 and could double again by 2050. New ideas and ways of thinking are required! We’re on an unsustainable path and we need to alter course, quickly.

Enter...the circular economy!

That’s where the circular economy comes in. This swanky concept is all about keeping the stuff we’ve already got in use for as long as possible, rather than simply chucking it into landfill when we think it’s done. Say goodbye to “take, make, dispose”. Say hello to “reduce, reuse, recycle”.

Now we know it’s all well and good knowing about it, but your burning question is – “How can I get involved?” Well fear not, we’ve put together some top tips and advice to get you circling.

hands covered with coffee grounds

Re-using your stuff – how to upcycle

Find new ways to use old packaging: glass jars are a great example – they can be reused as a container for dry foods and other loose items. Other options include cardboard boxes and other packaging materials you receive your online shopping in.

  • Paper – re-use any post you receive/ single-sided waste paper for taking notes / shopping lists etc. Same goes for reusing old envelopes.
  • Plastic carrier bags – either use these for grocery shops, or get ‘plarning’!
  • Products made from recycled materials – support brands that re-use ingredients or recycled materials – like our body and face scrubs with repurposed Arabica coffee grounds and soap bars with brewed chai tea spices.
  • Electrical products – don’t just throw away white goods like washing machines – check whether it's within warranty and ask the manufacturer to advise on any issues.

upcircle face serum surrounded by ingredients

Reduce stuff – how to use less

  • Cutlery and crockery – Get a set of bamboo or steel cutlery; you can carry it in your handbag removing the need for plastic! If you own one already, a reusable coffee cup and water bottle are brilliant every day staples.
  • Food containers – purchase a set of Tupperware for food storage – these can be used repeatedly.
  • Junk mail – Get a “No Junk Mail” sign for your letterbox to avoid getting wasteful and unwanted post.
  • Buy items in bulk or refillable containers to help minimise packaging.
  • Plan ahead – the best way to not use so much stuff is to not buy it in the first place. How? A week in advance write down everything you need to purchase, meaning you can work out what you’re going to need and when you’re going to get it.

Recycle stuff – how to make stuff usable again

  • Do your research - every council has different standards and terminology in terms of what they’re able to recycle. If in doubt, contact your local council and request further info.
  • Screw lids back on – generally speaking, screw plastic lids back onto bottles and straws into cartons before recycling. They’re too small separately to make it through most recycling sorting machines.
  • Squash down plastic bottles – not only does this save space but it also stops them rolling off sorting machine conveyor belts.
  • Empty and rinse – be sure to remove any residual food / product waste before recycling to prevent cross-contamination of recyclable materials.
  • Compost – if possible, try to compost any food waste rather than throw it away.

If you like the sound of coffee scrubs as much as we do, UpCircle have shown us how to make our own. Alternatively, find out more about other organic brands leading the way in sustainable packaging.