Recurring commerce is building towards tomorrow’s circular economy

In recurring commerce, more resources aren’t extracted, only to create islands of plastic debris in the ocean. Instead, waste and pollution are eliminated, the lifetime value of existing products and materials are extended, and nature is regenerated.
Deidre Olsen
May 23, 2024

“There is no ethical consumption under capitalism,” goes the famous quote from the 2010s Tumblr era. This is something influencers might bark back when they are criticized for sharing their latest Shein haul on TikTok, a fast-fashion brand notorious for labor exploitation. 

There’s the assumption that if every purchase is laced with some level of complicity, then there is no point in trying at all. But this is a cop-out, one meant to absolve people of guilt for overconsumption.

In reality, this meme was meant to spark dialogue about how our actions affect the world around us. It calls on us to feel more connected to the source of our products and services and think critically about how we engage with them. It’s more positive than negative.

Consumption alone is not evil; it’s part of life. Raising awareness about habits isn’t about demonizing consumption but rather improving the way we consume. 

If people brush off the human and environmental impacts of their consumption habits, we might truly be doomed. If products are mass-produced by cheap labor, often made up of children, and worn for a season only to be discarded and end up in the ocean as part of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, there might be no hope at all.

That is, if we solely continue down the path of linear commerce, where products and services have a limited shelf life and cannot be repaired or recycled. Here, the end goal is profitability, at any cost. This is a “make-take-dispose” economic approach, one that will only worsen climate change.

So, we can collectively decide to continue the race to the bottom for both our planet and society, exhausting resources and destroying the environment.

Or, we can consciously shift towards sustainability and create a better world where everyone rises to the occasion and takes responsibility for consumption. This is where circular commerce comes into play.

In contrast to linear commerce, circular commerce is focused on reducing waste and lessening environmental impact. In such a scenario, businesses are accountable for not only the final destination of their products but also the full lifecycle.

Products are reduced, reused, recycled, and recovered (those four Rs you might’ve learned in elementary or high school). The best part is that the value of products is maintained or even improved. This circular process opens up the door to new business opportunities and bolsters innovation.

There’s a world in which everyone throws their hands up and says, “There’s nothing that can be done, so why try?” In this place, there’s certainly no need to improve products, worry about customer relationships, or innovate toward sustainability. This same old, same old, business-as-usual approach will readily continue building ocean islands made of garbage.

Maybe you’ve seen this street art installation by Isaac Cordal, aptly titled “Politicians Discussing Climate Change.” It has the energy of two Spidermen pointing at each other. No one wants to take the lead. They just argue over whose fault it is as the water rises around them. It is a stalemate, one where no action can be taken.

Conversely, in a different world, one where everyone assumes a role in making things better, we’re in this together. In this reality, everyone benefits from a balanced economy and a healthy planet. People come up with a plan and take action to collaborate towards a shared future. 

And nothing is impossible for those who are unwilling to accept things as they are. Imagine an innovation that not only rids the ocean of garbage but also finds a sustainable way to manage waste. 

Well, guess what? Such solutions already exist! Take, for instance, a Dutch startup called The Ocean Cleanup, which has already extracted 100,000 kg of plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Sweeping a 3,000-square-kilometer area of the Pacific, this business removed plastic from the ocean, recycled it, and even used it for its own merchandise.

This is a great example of how businesses can conceive, design, and develop solutions that positively impact the environment, society, and the world at large. In circular commerce, economic growth is about more than the extraction and depletion of finite resources. 

At Firmhouse, we share this vision of working towards a better world. We are making a powerful reversal of linear commerce possible, optimizing how supply and demand come together. We aim to shift commerce for good, enabling businesses to earn more by selling smarter. 

By creating tools that help you build an increasingly sustainable and profitable business, Firmhouse is on a mission to change the way people consume and how the economy operates. 

Our recurring commerce platform creates value by increasing the lifespan of products and improving customer experiences. Through subscriptions, try-and-buy options, rentals, and other services, brands no longer have to choose profit over purpose.

Take, for instance, Tiny Library, one of our first clients and a pioneer in the baby goods space. The business rents out strollers, car seats, and other baby products that families use for a relatively short time. Shoppers can rent a wide range of products from multiple brands in one place and can easily return items as kids grow out of them. This sustainable commerce model offers flexibility and convenience for families.

Now, families of all shapes and sizes can easily, reliably, and affordably access products without breaking the bank. Choice equals freedom. It offers people the ability to make decisions that reflect who they are and what they want out of life. By providing people with more personalization, brands empower them to make informed purchases that reflect their lifestyle.

Not only this, but by moving towards recurring commerce models, the lifetime value of products is extended. That way, brands can extract more value from their existing product catalogs instead of relying solely on one-time purchases and traditional ownership of products for revenue.

Are you ready to make recurring commerce models a part of your business plans? Let’s create a world where a circular economy is possible. Join the movement to shift commerce for good and schedule a call with our team.

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