In december 2018 we challenged pupils at the Peder Skrivares skola in the west of Sweden to try out circular consumption in two different ways during a week. They could, for instance, sell or give away unused items that might be useful for someone else, or they could borrow or buy items they needed from someone else.
After analysing the data, we are proud to say that nearly 400 items were circulated to others by the 73 pupils that took on our challenge. Most pupils were satisfied with their result and described that they had had fun, enjoyable and socially pleasant experiences. However, not everyone enjoyed to engage in circular consumption processes. Some considered them, and the activities they entailed, to be cumbersome, time consuming and boring. Asking others if they could lend items were sometimes considered pushy and interacting with strangers were often avoided. Some pupils did not like the idea of being responsible for other people’s items but many were nonetheless happy to lend things from others as it meant that they did not need to buy the items themselves. The majority of pupils that took on the challenge choose to engage in processes they considered to be the least effortful and the most popular way to circulate items were to give them away. Giving a bag of clothes to charity was the most common choice.
This study has clearly shown that if one seeks to understand circular consumption in depth, one should not only focus on what items people obtain or rid but more importantly on how they do it. By understanding which activities and practicalities people consider to be negative and positive throughout their consumption processes, insights can be gained on how products and services can be designed to facilitate the processes and make circular consumption the most preferred choice.