Exeter alumni on a mission to design out waste
From housemates to business partners. At the beginning of the climate decade, two former students from the University of Exeter established Myriad to put circular economy principles into practice.
Dom Hughes (23) and Rob Hulmes (24) both graduated from the university in 2019. Inspired by the establishment of the Exeter Centre for Circular Economy (ECCE), launched in September 2018 by Dame Ellen MacArthur, the graduates sought to explore the theory in a professional capacity. Rob joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation on the Isle of Wight, whilst Dom joined the recycling industry in London. Although the recycling experience demonstrated the value in end of life products, the founders maintain that the optimal option is to design out waste in the first place, rather than try to make something of it at the end. This idea formed the basis for Myriad.
The circular economy is an economic model that is regenerative and restorative by design, based on three principles:
- Design out waste and pollution
- Keep products and materials in use
- Regenerate natural systems
Dom Hughes said: “For many, the circular economy remains largely theoretical. Our mission at Myriad is to put this theory into practice and engage people in the workings of a circular economy in a practical, real-life way. In turn, we hope to inspire system level change, driving industry leaders to adopt circular solutions that design out waste from the start.”
In May 2020, Myriad officially launched with a circular fashion initiative. The fashion industry is considered to be the second most polluting industry in the world, with large amounts of non-renewable resources extracted to produce clothes that are often used for only a short time. In the UK alone, 300,000 tonnes of clothing goes to landfill every year: and only 1% of material is reprocessed. For Myriad, the circular economy is the solution for the industry. The founders promote a line of t-shirts designed to be returned when worn-out, in order to be reprocessed into new ones. With the pandemic in mind, Myriad collaborated with artists to create NHS-inspired designs, with 100% of the sales proceeds donated to NHS Charities Together.
But the pandemic is causing other kinds of problems too, specifically the surge in plastic pollution associated with single-use masks. Globally, 129 billion face masks are used every month, whilst the incorrect disposal of just 1% of the masks results in as many as 10 million masks per month polluting the environment (WWF). With the lack of government promotion for reusable alternatives, Myriad switched their attention to a #ChooseToReuse campaign in collaboration with another Exeter alumna, Melisa Gooding. Myriad’s face coverings are made from upcycled fabrics, giving an additional lifecycle to textiles, with 10% revenue donated to Women’s Aid.
Rob Hulmes said: “The fragility and brittleness of global supply chains have been brought to the front of our attention as a result of the pandemic. The case for moving away from single-use towards reuse models is stronger than ever.”
Now five months into their journey, the founders are eager to maintain focus and scale Myriad. The next steps will see an array of ‘circular’ products available on the website, as well as working towards an ‘exciting’ announcement in the coming months.
Find out more about Myriad Circular at https://www.myriadcircular.com/
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