“Why is it hard to do the right thing? It should be an easy choice for people to make the right choice for the planet and for people.”

It’s true: it should be easy. So why isn’t it? It all comes down to how our economic system is structured, says Nina Butler. At present, waste is cheap: we can ship it overseas or just dump it in the ground.

This won’t change until the right incentives are in place, she argues.

“Until we really give that market signal that it does make sense to invest in smarter choices for the planet, I think we’re going to keep struggling up against this economic challenge.”

Even so, there is much that gives her hope. Large companies, she notes, are “wanting to be part of the solution”. New materials and technologies are opening up fresh opportunities for cutting waste. At Unilever we're adopting circular economy practices to do just this.

But it is nature that spurs her optimism most of all. A counterweight to today’s “machine-type environment”, its beauty and simplicity keep her from losing heart.

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