In this series on systems thinking, I share the key insights and tools needed to develop and advance a systems mindset for dealing with complex problem solving and transitioning to the Circular Economy.

I have taught thousands of hours of workshops in systems, sustainability and design, and over the years refined ways of rapidly engaging people with the three dimensional mindset needed to think and work in circular systems. My motivation for writing this online toolkit is to help expand the ability of professionals to rapidly adopt to a systems mindset for positive impact.

Words have power, and in systems…


Image by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on UnSplash

Wishcycling is when people place non-recyclable items in the recycling and hope those items will end up being recycled. The unfortunate reality, though, is that these actions contaminate the recycling stream and reinforce the very problem of waste.

Wishcycling comes from a place of good intentions, but as we all know, good intentions do not always lead to good outcomes.

I think it’s safe to say everyone has done this at some stage.

We’ve popped the coffee cup into the recycling bin with some coffee still in it and the lid on, or that thin plastic wrapper, a pizza box, lightbulb, broken drinking glass, batteries, chopsticks, maybe even an extension cord (I’ve seen it happen), and hoped that it would go off and be magically made into some new thing.

Yet the truth is, we don’t have a magical recycling system where everything can be easily transformed into something new. In fact, most things you think are recyclable, are probably…


It should not come as a surprise to anyone that our current linear economy relies on continuous sales, which requires things to wear out faster, look a bit uglier and quickly become less desirable than the latest version, all in order to keep feeding the linear ‘waste-based’ economy. That’s why consumer products are often made to break, designed with an intentional lack of replacement parts, or have their lifespans controlled by the producer through savvy tech interventions.

The term used to define the practice of intentionally designing products to break or become aesthetically undesirable is called planned obsolescence. This is…


This year’s theme for the United Nations World Environment Day is Reimagine, Recreate and Restore. Every year on the 5th June, the UN Environment Programme reminds us that we are all responsible for the planet and encourages people to find unique and creative ways to solve one of the most pressing issues of our time — how to live sustainably on this beautiful life-sustaining blue and green dot.

We cannot turn back time. But we can grow trees, green our cities, rewild our gardens, change our diets and clean up rivers and coasts. We are the generation that can make…


It’s been just over a year since the Covid pandemic was called. Since then, ripples of shut downs and difficult decisions have been made by individuals, families, companies and communities as the collateral damage of the virus continues to ricochet around the world.


Over the years, my team and I have created a range of free, open-access toolkits to support changemakers in adopting the skills needed to help transform the global economy into a circular and sustainable one by design.

Here I have assembled some of my favorite ones and a list of what we have created for anyone wanting to get started on activating change for free!

Through my design agency, Disrupt Design, my small team and I take commissions to make tools and self-initiate our own designs to help make change, wherever we can we get our clients and collaborators to…


The Disruptive Design Method (DDM) is a systems-based approach to creative problem solving for tackling complex social and environmental issues. It combines sociological inquiry methods (mining) with systems explorations (landscaping) and design and creativity (building) approaches. The method is built on systems, sustainability and design, allowing for a three-dimensional perspective shift of a problem arena to ensure that interventions create positive change. Here we cover a quick guide to the DDM.

DDM: Minning, Landscaping and Building based off Systems, Sustainability and Design

We live in a complex interconnected world riddled with dynamic and often chaotic problems that requires a mindset and skillset shift in order for us to address them at…


The Circular Economy is all about the transformation of the way we do business, create goods and services, organize society and ultimately respect and cherish the world around us. Moving from a linear to a circular economy requires a reconfiguration of nearly all business structures, which is where circular business strategies come into play.

In my quick guide series, I am providing an overview of the different decision making support tools that enable the transformation to a circular and sustainable society. We are all consumers in the current linear economy, but as we transition to one that massively reduces waste…


Sustainable design is the approach to creating products and services that have considered the environmental, social, and economic impacts from the initial phase through to the end of life. EcoDesign is a core tool in the matrix of approaches that enables the Circular Economy.

There is a well-quoted statistic that says around 80% of the ecological impacts of a product are locked in at the design phase. If you look at the full life cycle of a product and the potential impacts it may have, be it in the manufacturing or at the end of life stage, the impacts are inadvertently decided and thus embedded in the product by the designers, at the design decision-making stage.

This makes some uncomfortable, but design and product development teams are responsible for the decisions that they make when contemplating, prototyping, and ultimately producing a product into existence…


Earthrise Photo: NASA taken by Apollo 8 crewmember Bill Anders on December 24, 1968, at mission time 075:49:07

This week, on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, it was the 50th celebration of Earth Day, a single day marked in the 365/6 days in a human-described calendar year that is dedicated to remembering or celebrating that we all need the Earth to survive. In my opinion, that should be inverted, and every day should be Earth Day, given we all live here, on the only known life-sustaining planet in the universe — yet we have, in the last 50 years, managed to make a complete mess of things.

In 1968, astronauts headed toward the moon snapped a photo of the…

Leyla Acaroglu

UNEP Champion of the Earth, Designer, Sociologist, Sustainability Provocateur, TED Speaker, Educator, Founder of unschools.co, disrupdesign.co & coproject.co

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