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Barry O'Kane

Barry is driven by the belief that the power of software must be used for good, and that requires deep values, honesty and a holistic approach. Barry has over 20 years in the digital industry as a programmer and entrepreneur.

He founded HappyPorch in 2014 - a remote-first software engineering consultancy. HappyPorch believe technology, crafted with care, has the power to create positive change and address climate breakdown, social inequality and biodiversity loss. To achieve this, they're dedicated to creating an equitable circular economy.

He started HappyPorch Radio as a way to explore these topics and share conversations with amazing people.

Emily Swaddle

Emily has been co-hosting HappyPorch Radio since season 5 in 2020. 

Alongside HPR, Emily also co-hosts The Carbon Removal Show and is creating a new podcast about rest… watch this space! She also works as a Personal Development Coach, and a Trainer for Impact Forecast, helping startup businesses to measure their climate impact. And sometimes she likes to leave her computer behind and go swimming in a wild river, camping under the stars and singing around a campfire. 

Follow her adventures on  Instagram.

Listen to the episode


S7E17 audiogram image


Barry O'Kane  00:10

Hello, and welcome back to HappyPorch Radio. This is the final episode of Season Seven. In this episode, Emily and I are going to reflect a little bit on all the conversations we've had this season and see if we can pick out any themes or thoughts to wrap everything up. Emily, just to start, how are you? What's your first thoughts when you're looking back at the season?


Emily Swaddle  00:27

I think my first thought is that we covered a lot. And we're gonna have to wrap it all up in this one episode. So I guess, sort of, to the listener, just go back and listen to the episodes because we're definitely not going to cover everything here. And but I do think there's going to be some interesting themes that we pull out, because I think that we've sort of managed to connect not only different conversations within this season, but also drawing on conversations we have in other seasons as well. And sort of the big picture that we're painting together with all these conversations of the Circular Economy, and how we're moving forward in that.


Barry O'Kane  01:02

Yeah, I always think the people we speak to are so inspirational, so amazing, and so varied, even when we're sort of trying to give ourselves a scope or focus around the type of work that people are doing. It's still hugely varied. And it's really fascinating to me things like the backgrounds and the different contexts that people bring to the work they're doing. And so like you say, There's no way we can touch or pick up on our way through all of that, from the 16 episodes we've done this season. We should definitely say, once again, huge thank you to all our guests who joined us this season, it was pretty amazing.


Emily Swaddle  01:35

Something to reflect on Barry, we often say like the people we speak to are really inspiring. And these conversations are really special. And I think like we're not sort of being disingenuous when we say that, everything we talked about was really interesting and really inspiring. But I feel like I was just reflecting on this as you were speaking there, like, everyone can be inspiring when they're talking about what they're passionate about. And that's sort of at the core of what these conversations are about, right? We talk to people who get to work in an area that they feel passionate about. And so the conversations become really inspiring and really, like interesting, and we can dive into bits. And, you know, that, to me is the really cool thing is that anybody could be one of these inspiring people that we talk to. It's not that these people are special in some way. I mean, they are special in their own ways. But they're not, you know, sort of like being born with some innate special superhuman power. They're just doing something that fulfils them and following their passion. And that's what makes it so inspiring.


Barry O'Kane  02:37

Yeah, that's really interesting, and I definitely hear what you're saying. That's especially true, I think, when one of the real themes that came from through for this season for me was embracing complexity. And I think what you said is just especially true, because the people we've had the honour of speaking to are as you say, doing the work and in an area that they care about, and embracing the sort of complex, messy systemic change level stuff, which I really enjoy. And that's maybe why the conversation is so inspiring.


Emily Swaddle  03:06

I mean, we really enjoyed the conversations too, which makes it like an extra layer of fun. 


Barry O'Kane  03:11

So, to pick up a couple of themes that I have come away with from the season that one I mentioned is I think the core one is that and I'll mention it I'm sure a lot as we go through and touch on all the episodes. Circularity isn't something that can happen in isolation, and it's something that involves, a sort of ,the systemic wide change and seeing everything through this lens. And yet it also can like everything It can become, it can get isolated or stuck or hijacked by people with different intentions and all that kind of stuff. So it's this very complex, very messy thing. And I think that's in a way to no point in trying to fight that that's in a way the reality of it all and just sort of enjoying that and saying, I'm working in a complex system. Where is my impact? Where's my change? Or what part of that am I involved in? But still being aware of the context and the complexity. And that came through in so many of these conversations. For me that was maybe the strongest theme.


Emily Swaddle  04:06

Yeah, I think everyone we spoke to was aware of that, you know, being a node within a web within a spiral within a square within a, you know, just like, so they are aware of their point in the system. And I think that that's really powerful when you know, what you can do, and you also kind of know what you can't do, you know, you can say, I know that this, these are things I can change. And these are things I want to change. But I also know that I can't do everything on my own, I can't do anything without the support of other people. And these are things we can change together. I think that's such a powerful position to be in when you recognise that. For me, one of the themes that came through really strongly this season, or I suppose one of the things that interested me the most was that conversation we kept having about how Circular Economy and the way we interact with Circular Economy has developed, and it's continuing to develop over the past, like,  20, 30 years, the sort of careers and work life spans of the people we spoke to, they can see the difference in the way people are interacting with Circular Economy. And also like, what's out there that is accessible to people in terms of Circular Economy. It feels like, and we've mentioned this a few times across the season that like, we might be in a important moment in history for this kind of transition, you know, that we're at,  like a turning point. And that's really important. And I think, you know, we notice it or feel it in all kinds of systems change. And we talk about that as well, you know, like, the way we interact with brands, as consumers that's changing, and the way that we interact with each other is changing. And the way that we use products is changing, you know, like everything is sort of in transition in some way. And being here in this moment at this sort of turning point with systems or shifting and things is kind of terrifying, but really exciting. And, you know, holds a lot of potential, particularly if you're one of those people like the people we speak to who are at the forefront of that change.


Barry O'Kane  06:05

Let's go through each of the episodes just really quickly and do a couple of reflections on each one, as we're going through and pulling out those themes that we both covered there, and anything else. So the first interview we had was with Fabrice Sorin from Circulab. One of the things that always sticks with me from the conversation we had with him was how clear and definite he was about the importance of defining what we mean by Circular Economy and not getting distracted by, as he said, material circularity that is happening within a linear system, but a more broader regenerative, systemic level change, and how that definition of purpose really drives who Circulab are and the work that he's doing.


Emily Swaddle  06:47

Yeah, I think we talked about a lot of interesting things in this conversation. And we also started to talk about degrowth, which was something that came up a few times across this season. You know, the idea that an infinitely growing economy is just fundamentally unsustainable, and that's something that needs to be addressed. And the idea of regenerative business was something that Fabrice brought into the conversation which I really liked. I've sort of been aware of regenerative farming techniques and other uses of the word regenerative. But regenerative business, I think is a really nice framework in which to sort of fit the Circular Economy ideas and look at it in that way as well.


Barry O'Kane  07:27

And one of the other things that was interesting about the work Fabrice and the team at Circulab are doing is how they're sharing both resources and information and tools, both in terms of their courses and the services they deliver. But also online resources and the tools, which is something that we saw many of the people doing this work, like they're making a real effort to share that information. Because they're trying to be part of a larger systemic change, rather than hoarding the room and protecting their own little backyard.


Emily Swaddle  07:57

Yeah, Circulab have a free online tool available to help people with taking action and making impact. I think it speaks to a lot of the passion of the people we work with, but also the ethics of how they do it, you know, it's not about sort of gatekeeping or making sure everything's perfect, and keeping control of it all. It's like, spreading the word, and spreading it as fast as, far as possible, in a way that people can feel empowered and learn and understand and then take action and join the movement.

Barry O'Kane  08:28

That is another theme that, I guess is one of the reasons for this podcast as well, too, is to not get lost in, in doom and gloom, which is very easy to do. But to actually try and be part of the conversations about what is happening and what will and could be happening. And in the next episode, we spoke to Gerrard and Kristina from QSA Partners, people I love speaking to all the time, I think, because they bring energy, positivity and fun to the those conversations, and they sort of actively live in the challenges of, we need to try and help businesses discover and change and transition. But it is murky. And they talked about needing to speak to people in all different departments. As I said, they live in this complexity, it is messy, it's incomplete.  But yet, they managed to make that, I think very positive and fun. And yet have a clear connection to where they're trying to help their clients get to.


Emily Swaddle  09:23

Yeah, that was a fun conversation. I really appreciated that sort of emphasis on that point of involving people from all parts of the business. And they were like, Yeah, from the beginning, we speak to people from Legal we speak to people from Marketing, like that is just how they work from the very beginning. And I really liked that. And also, they mentioned that their job as consultants is to bring insights from other industries, you know, when you're working in one industry, and your whole focus is your company and what you're doing. And that's totally understandable, you know, you've got to have that focus. And it can be hard to pick your head up and look around and see what's going on elsewhere. And these consultants are there and they bring in learnings from like, a fashion brand, or a car rental company that can maybe influence each other and learn from each other in terms of like, business models, or other insights into how to transition to more circular models. I thought that was really cool. And just a really nice kind of example of consultants doing their best work.


Barry O'Kane  10:30

It was also Gerrard and Kristina, who brought up the idea of a circular native in the same way or in a similar way as we use the term digital native as somebody who's grown up over their whole professional lives with digital technology, being very different from somebody who's been introduced to that later on, and they talked a little bit about how they're starting to see that both as individuals and as businesses, people seeing circularity as natural and normal using digital tools maybe to make that happen, but it's not a sort of, oh, this is a bit weird that I rent my clothes or the ownership is kind of changing, what do we mean by ownership?


Emily Swaddle  11:07

Yeah, and I found that really helpful as well to. sort of. have a transition that isn't exactly the same. But it's something that we can look to as maybe like lessons to be learnt but also like, ways in which we can move forward thinking about  the digital transition that has happened so quickly. And so in such an extreme manner. And looking at that as a transition, as an example. So transitioning to the Circular Economy, there are things we can learn from that, there are things we can take from that. I found that really helpful.


Barry O'Kane  11:39

In the next episode, we spoke to Paul from Circuthon Consulting, I still follow very actively Paul's messaging and his content on LinkedIn, and if you're not following Paul, and you are interested in the Circular Economy, definitely check out the messaging and the content he puts out there. It's interesting how many different projects he's involved in and aware of and what he's sharing, and how clear he is about the importance of tying things like toxicity and materials and bio-materials. And sort of drawing together this complexity of, we need to get into the weeds and really change these deep seated, deeply embedded things in our system, if we want to further the genuine positive change.


Emily Swaddle  12:17

Yeah, I think he used the term toxic free circularity. And that was really nice thing to hear, you know, taking the toxins out of the supply chain. And it was also really great to hear Paul's sort of personal story that is inspired by his love of nature. And that sort of got him into this work. And I mean, we always talk to, we try and talk to everyone about that sort of personal connection to this work. And I love that part. And I remember this story in particular, and really, really appreciated Paul sharing it with us. And something else that came out of this conversation for me, which is another theme that comes back again and again, is this idea that Circular Economy is the answer. Like there isn't a doubt in anyone's mind of the people who speak to. I know it's a very biased pool. But you know, Circular Economy can do all the things we need it to do. The questions come around, like how do we transition? How do we get the support, and particularly, you know, policy support and legislation that helps businesses move quickly into more circular ways of doing things. Paul mentioned this as well, that the technology is out there, the technology can be implemented. It sometimes takes time and money and legislation can really help to move that along much more quickly.


Barry O'Kane  13:36

We haven't actually mentioned technology in this conversation yet, even though that is one of the overarching themes of the whole podcast. I guess I just assumed that that's in there. But it is interesting. The points that theme has come through in many places is how the existing technology often in a business technology is optimised for linear operations. That doesn't mean the tools don't exist to move to more circularity. It's just as you say, making sure that they're brought in the right way. Technology can't solve everything or can't just do it for us. As we touched on there, you need to involve people and understand the context and have the right tools and so on. And I guess that for me is why all of these conversations in the podcast matter because you can't just throw one solution out there and say, Okay, do this, this is magically going to work. But we need the technology implemented in the right way, at the right place. And if we do that it has a real potential to be a catalyst for helping where we're trying to go.


Emily Swaddle  14:28

Yeah, in the next episode, we spoke to Elin from Cradlenet. Actually, one of the things that I really loved about this conversation wasn't about technology at all. It was about that, like, sort of common sense side of circularity, she talks about businesses like refusing business. And I know I just called that common sense, and it sounds a bit counterintuitive, but if we're talking about acting in a more sustainable, more circular way, and I think she used the example of a sign company and somebody says I need three signs and maybe you say Okay, do you actually need three or do you need two because there's no point in like overusing material here. And I just love that there's the almost like the audacity of it, you know, for business to say, I'm going to refuse business, but actually in the long run, it's better for me and it's better for the planet. And it's better for my customers.


Barry O'Kane  15:24

And I think that is touching on one of the key challenges that so many people working in this space to help businesses are constantly working on is how can we help businesses reach that and I view it as a level of maturity to be able to say, we don't need to run from short term profit to short term profit from challenge to challenge from stress to stress. But rather, let's think about the long term? What our clients really need and can we do that in a way that benefits everybody? That's the sort of thing that builds deep long term related business relationships, a level of trust, which obviously helps both sides.


Emily Swaddle  15:59

Yeah. And that trust has to come from the consumer as well, the ideal, which is, again, something that comes up in several episodes this season, is that businesses can make it as easy as possible for consumers to make a choice towards circularity. You know, that's what we want that consumers don't have to be thinking, How do I recycle these things? How do I dispose of this properly, whatever, that it's just made easy for consumers. But that requires trust from the consumer side, that the businesses are doing all they can. And it takes trust from the business side that the consumers will do that and will continue to buy their products if they prioritise these things. And yeah, I think we're sort of like much more in a social moment where that is something that people want. And I think that's really encouraging too.


Barry O'Kane  16:51

In the next episode, we spoke to Madison Wright, from Pentatonic. We talked about one of the sort of goals of our conversations is to be focused on the potential and the opportunities in circularity and not to get stuck in doom and gloom. But that also means we can't ignore the reality. And the reports that Pentatonic and Madison produced about fashion and waste, particularly in Ghana, 160 tonnes a day, mind blowing amount of random secondhand textiles and clothes, of all ranges and qualities turning up in there in Ghana is just mental, it's just unsustainable. It's not helping the local economy, it's creating a huge local waste problem and an economic and social problem. And somehow, it's coming from sometimes good intentions. Often in the Western world, we're giving clothes away thinking we're doing the right thing, assuaging our guilt about buying the next new thing,  that is a really sort of clear cut example of the scale and the insidiousness of the problem.


Emily Swaddle  17:58

 I think it really highlights like remnants of a colonialist mindset, as  like the Global North continues to consume and consume and consume. And the way that we deal with that consumption is we ship all our unwanted goods to another part of the world, assuming that they want what we don't. And they don't, you know, all our assumptions are wrong. And then also that like, maybe they should be grateful for those things that we've sent, even though actually what we're sending them is waste, waste that we never wanted. And now we're assuming they do and they don't. And then the responsibility gets shifted on to people in countries that have even fewer resources than  we do in that front and like less infrastructure and all sorts of things. And it's just, it's such a messy business and it really upsets me, actually. And I think one side of that is another thing that Madison spoke about is that there's a lot of greenwashing that goes on . As you know, a lot of people have good intentions. Some people have less than good intentions. And it's hard to tell when we're sort of getting information from brands or industries, whether what they're actually doing, what the practices that actually they follow, whether that's good for the planet and good for people or not. And again, as individual consumers, it's so difficult to know that. Things like this report that Pentatonic have created are super helpful in that way. But I think really, the industry, the system, that's what needs to change. And consumers need to be brought along as part of that, rather than putting it on consumers to change in the first instance.


Barry O'Kane  19:48

Madison's conclusion that she was sharing with us, is it doesn't matter how recyclable or what other good aspects of the product, we just need to reduce production and consuming so much. That ties back as well to a phrase that Gerrard from QSA used in the earlier episode where he was saying, we help businesses make money by making less stuff,  I think is a really important message, because we can't completely ignore the sort of old fashioned economics, the economics of business need to make money. But we can do that. If we're clever, we can bring these two things together. And think about production and material use and rethinking all of the things that we've talked about and what circularity is. And I guess this is another example of just stepping into that complexity and going. This is a messy, complex, difficult situation. But we can't let it continue as it has. So what are the things that we can get in there and change?


Emily Swaddle  20:42

In the next episode, we spoke to Pieter from Metabolic. And, actually, similarly, Madison brought us that real world example of sending fashion and clothing to garner, Pieter brought us a real world example from his own personal life, when he told us about having visited a farm in California, which subsequently suffered the effects of extreme wildfire. And that was such a heartbreaking story. And again, a really sort of personal element of, like his connection to this work. And you know, why it meant so much to him?  I think, unfortunately, we're all going to start to see the effects of climate change much more frequently, and much more intimately. And I suppose I'm an optimist, because the silver lining of all that is that if we do see it firsthand, like the effect that that has on us, it, make it you know, it empowers people and drives people to make change and to work on taking action in a way that can help mitigate those kinds of disasters. Hopefully, that's the dream. Right?  It's a shame to get to that point before. You know it before people feel that but it's true that that's an outcome of seeing these things firsthand.


Barry O'Kane  22:00

Yeah, kind of a motivator, as you said, personal stories and personal motivations often  enable us to make big change. The other thing I like about the work that Metabolic are doing is, bringing back to the technology, is they recently launched a tool called Link, which is a digital tool. And the interesting thing I think about that and some of the work that Metabolic do as well as it's kind of looking at circularity in the context of some of the other things that people at the businesses talk about in terms of sustainability and other things going on. So, again, a really inspiring business, making real positive change and putting things out there.


Emily Swaddle  22:31

And if listeners happen to be in the Amsterdam area, I highly recommend going to check out Metabolic's sort Lab that's in the north of Amsterdam. It's such a cool place and they're doing all sorts of cool, like experiments and they've got greenhouses and stuff that's really cool to be checked out.


Barry O'Kane  22:50

Awesome. So in the next episode, we spoke to Debbie Ward, from Cirklo Consult and particularly we talked a lot about  construction circularity in the construction industry, which is an interesting area that I know only the tiny little bit about. So fascinating conversation.


Emily Swaddle  23:04

There's a lot of passion that came from this conversation. And one of the things that I really liked was this idea that  there's no way in which you can ever make a perfect choice. And all we can do is look at decisions from as many angles as possible. And at some point, make a decision and that is a really useful reminder, I think, because, we spend all of our time talking to people about how to make these kinds of decisions and how to take action. And we talk about it so much that it can be almost impossible to imagine actually doing it, because we're just talking about it. And getting caught up in like the detail or the nuance, or the complexity that we've already spoken about, you know, that complexity is really important to embrace. But part of embracing it is realising at some point, you just have to take action. And you just have to keep trying and keep trying to get better. That was a really nice sort of message from Debbie in this conversation.


Barry O'Kane  24:00

There's also a nice connection between some of the things we were talking about with Debbie in this conversation and what some of the other folks said, I remember Elin talking about the Nordic circular hotspots and the communities. Debbie also talked about the importance of thinking about community and circularity. 


Emily Swaddle  24:16

The fact that we are part of a system also works to our advantage, because it allows space for sometimes, you know, those days when you can't get it right, or those days where you are just trying really hard, and it doesn't seem to be working, or you can't find the motivation to do it. There are other people also working that's there's another point that we spoke to Debbie about that. On those days where it feels too hard, or you can't find the motivation. There are other people out there doing it, and we can look to them for like support in that as well.


Barry O'Kane  24:49

The next conversation is one where I spoke on my own this time, I went out bravely on my own to speak to Vivian from Oakdene Hollins. And this was a brilliant conversation. Again, I will keep saying that, but it genuinely was. And one of the things that Vivian talked about that I really enjoyed was that moment of kind of insight or understanding when she's over there working with somebody describing Circular Economy or Circular Principle. And that moment of Oh, I get it now. And there's a sign of an opening door, perspective change of Oh, that opens up all these other options and potential things and conversations and things we could be doing.


Emily Swaddle  25:27

I also liked in this conversation, framing consultancy work as helping to, sort of navigate the complexity and structure it into maybe ways that we can deal with the mess of the complexity of this issue. You know, I think it is really overwhelming thing to just be, like faced with this huge problem that seems so vast and so multifaceted. And to have people working to support you, in this case, we're talking about consultants, is like really empowering. So I really liked that aspect of the conversation. And another thing that I really liked was making the connection between Circular Economy and Net Zero targets, which isn't something we talk about very often. Vivian talked about like saving carbon by treating materials well and treating materials smarter. And that in itself, sort of draws in a bigger system. And like places Circular Economy within that big system in a way that makes so much sense. It's like, it just fits like another puzzle piece, you know, and I think sometimes it can be seen as like, okay, either you're talking about Circular Economy, or you're talking about carbon goals, or you're talking about biodiversity, or you know, like the even within sort of the sustainability world, there's different like niches that people tend to like silo off into. But it's all connected. It's all, you know, interlinked as one big system. 


Barry O'Kane  26:52

 In the next episode, we spoke to Fleur and actually it is one of the conversations with her that prompted me to start describing circularity as a lens through which you see everything. Again, tying back to the system and the complexity like once you're looking at everything, literally everything around you right now,  especially if you're in an urban environment is going to be a manufactured good. And so everything everywhere you look, you can't look at something in the space around you now, without thinking about what is the impact of those materials and the chain of complex web of supply and supply chain behind that materials? And then what's going to happen to these things, you know, suddenly it's everything. And then, as you say, tying that back into Net Zero targets and the other equally as important conversations that are tied together.


Emily Swaddle  27:39

I was really inspired by...Fleur talked about, like how we sort of encourage people to make change, I think there's a lot of talk in this season about that, sort of, like activating people to make change. And really, it comes down to sort of like human psychology. You know, we get into people's mindset and stuff. Fleur was talking about shame is not a way to make people change, you know, we can't. It's actually been proven, you know, it's the scientific studies about this, that shame is not a good motivator. We need to talk about like, why this matters, why the status quo isn't currently working, and how we can move forward, and what hope there is within that, and also to give people a reason for them to think that they can, in fact, have an impact. If people don't believe they can have an impact, they're not going to try and make change. But like with that idea that yes, I can have an impact here. That's such a motivator. And that's part of the job of a consultant again, is to sort of inspire that within people.


Barry O'Kane  28:37

In the next episode, we spoke to Ivonne from Circle Economy, who are a consultancy , who do a huge amount of work in presenting and explaining and talking about circularity, and doing that on a very large scale.  One of their big reports is the Circularity Gap Report, which tries to both globally and then recently, they're breaking that down on a more regional and country level, to measure how circular are we, and they're coming out with numbers that are embarrassingly low, it used to be 9%. This time around, it was 7%, and point something percent. And so the work they're doing is both just amazing, and also sort of demonstrates the scale of the problem.


Emily Swaddle  29:21

I think as well, Ivonne's personal story is kind of inspiring to people who might want to have an impact, who might want to contribute to this transition. But they think, I don't know if I have the skills to do I don't know if I'm in the right industry, I don't know if I'm in the right department of my company. Because she talks a lot about just like taking any professional skill, and with the right intention, pointing it towards this goal. And I think that's really powerful, too, you know, that this whole movement, this whole transition isn't just about I guess, entrepreneurs or engineers or tech people. It's about the marketing professionals, it's about creatives, it's about financial advisors, it's about everyone. And I think that her personal story really highlighted that for me that you can apply your professional skills in any part of this transition.


Barry O'Kane  30:15

It's really interesting how that came through in a couple of these conversations in this episode. And as you said, it's quite inspiring. I would definitely recommend that everybody goes and takes a look at the work that Circle Economy are doing. There's so much as well as the Circularity Gap Report, there's training and tools and data and insights and all sorts of things that are really worth looking at. The next conversation was on a personal, passionate topic of mine, even within the Circular Economy and that's Servitisation or Advanced Services. Iain McKechnie from the Advanced Services Group, kind of, introduced us to some of the terminology, Product-as-a service what Servitisation is, and what they mean by Advanced Services. And for me, that's one of the really, potentially powerful levers in the right place for circularity.


Emily Swaddle  31:01

Yeah, and I think some of the examples that Iain gives in this episode are really, like, helped me think about it in a different way. We've talked about Servitisation before, we've had lots of great conversations about this and other episodes and in other seasons. And every time I hear a different example, I'm like, Oh, I never thought about that, you know, like, I never realised that you could turn that product into a service.  It feels like such an innovation to me, and I get really intrigued by it. And I think one of the things I like the most about the source product as a service model, anything as a service, is that, again, talking about that, like sort of consumer responsibility. When something's a service, the responsibility remains with the company who is providing it. And ultimately, they're the ones who know the product best, right? They're the ones who've created it, and they know how to best maintain it and best use it. And the consumer doesn't have to worry about those things anymore. And when it becomes a service model, the company who's providing that service, they hold on to all that responsibility. And it just makes sense to me like that feels like the right way round. And I like that about this option.


Barry O'Kane  32:11

Yes, and it's the exciting opportunity from the business's point of view as well.  A few seasons ago, we spoke to Dave from Kaer, the Air-Conditioning-as-a-service.  He talked about moving from selling big machinery to selling a temperature in the room. And the benefits that that brought them as a company and as well, as you said, taking responsibility for the maintainability and care of the physical products. In the next episode, we spoke to Christian from the Excess Materials Exchange, and Anne, who's an independent advisor and consultant who has been working with the Excess Materials Exchange. And I really liked the fact that we got to speak to them both at the same time and talk about the whole journey, in their specific examples in the amazing work that the Excess Materials Exchange is doing. And then the role that an advisor or an expert can have in that situation.


Emily Swaddle  32:56

Yeah, and we also talked in this episode about intrapreneurs. You know, those are the people inside businesses or organisations who want to make change from within. They're not sort of starting up a new business or anything, but they are maybe starting up a new project, maybe just trying new ways of doing things within an existing organisation. And to me, those kinds of people are really they're always so inspiring, because I think like, if you're an entrepreneur and you're starting something on your own, there are all kinds of difficulties and barriers that you hit.  And when you're an entrepreneur, at least you're following a path that you are setting out for yourself, you can learn from your mistakes, you can change tack, there's a bit more flexibility there, as an intrapreneur, you're trying to make change and support the transition, but from within, like a system that's already in place. So I feel like it must just be really difficult at times. And we spoke a bit about sort of hitting walls within companies or within systems that people work in, that does make it difficult for like, motivated individuals to not necessarily make the change they want to make. But I think that there's definitely sort of hope for those people, with the support of people like consultants and advisors who can sort of champion that work as well.


Barry O'Kane  34:14

Yes, and Excess Materials Exchange is a brilliant example of the sort of platforms that can enable things to be implemented within businesses, in this case, potentially sharing common resources or assets. So that you don't need to reinvent the wheel- Here's some infrastructure to help you implement that, and advice and support and all of that on that journey as well.


Emily Swaddle  34:35

And they also talked about the whole global aspect of this when individuals making change, or companies making change, or whatever, this system actually spreads around the whole world supply chains, cross borders. And so we need to think about this as like global collaboration. And I really liked that aspect as well of the Excess Materials Exchange,  the idea is that it can power and power many people across many different contexts.


Barry O'Kane  35:04

Next, we spoke to Cecile from Copper8. One of the reasons I enjoyed this conversation was her description of the business. And the way she approached business and how she was really demonstrating, really clearly leading in the, sort of, an inspirational business within the post growth mindset or approach or where business potentially could go.


Emily Swaddle  35:25

Yeah, I would say to listeners, if you're looking for an example of how to lead in a way that feels like it actually works for your colleagues, for your business, and for the planet, like, this conversation was really, really impressive for me on that point, you know, just considering, sort of, the human aspect of everyone working within her business, and also they put a cap on how many people were employed at Copper8, because they didn't want to grow any further than that. And obviously, that comes with having to set sort of really hard boundaries. But they're doing it so like, it's possible. And yeah, I really encourage people to listen and get some of the wisdom from Cecile. As well, you know, something that we mentioned at the beginning of this episode was one of the themes is like how the Circular Economy is moving and transforming. And Cecile mentioned that it feels like this is no longer a niche when it comes to consulting, that the bigger consulting companies are looking at Circular Economy, they're taking on, sort of circular projects. And you know, that's really encouraging too.


Barry O'Kane  36:42

Cecile also touched on something that's a really important conversation within circularity, and that there is efficiency improvements sometimes can lead to actually more. So for example, if we're able to say something is more efficient, that just means we produce or make or buy more of them. And so we have actually made the problem worse instead of better. That's an important theme or leg that anybody looking at circularity needs to really be aware of.


Emily Swaddle  37:08

Yeah, that's the, sort of trapdoor that I think lots of people fall through, is thinking that we are making this more efficient, and therefore it's going to be more efficient also in, sort of, like planetary sense. But it can be that oftentimes we use more of it. In the next conversation, we spoke to Nellie from Anthesis, and, again, spoke about one of those trapdoors that people often fall into in circularity is that recycling is the answer. And we know after many of these conversations, that recycling is sort of the last port of call. And that in Nellie's context, she was talking about the fashion industry. And how might we engage customers in repairing their items and reusing and also the importance of understanding, the sort of secondhand market as a company in that space. I think it was really cool how she talked about like the original retailer, being able to take control of the second hand experience, and how actually that can impact customer loyalty when it comes to these brands. And that, as we've like, shifted from that like extreme linear system, we need to think more holistically about how this garment has been used throughout its whole life. And maybe companies want to get involved in that process as well.


Barry O'Kane  38:28

The other thing that Nellie explained really clearly, and it also came through as another theme from the whole season is how understanding the customer, the user of the product, as an important lens through which to understand any business success, but especially circularity, and when we're changing something like this, but also as a potential opportunity to think about ways to build deeper loyalty and deeper connections with our customers and users.


Emily Swaddle  38:55

In our final episode, we spoke with Dr. Lynn, which was a great conversation. And she, sort of, talked us through the importance of debunking the language of Circular Economy, which I think is actually a really nice reflection for the end of the season. Because, you know, we do tend to get swept away by all of the things that we're talking about across the season. And if this is something that's new to people, if it's new to businesses, then it can be really overwhelming, because there's a lot of jargon. And there's a lot of, sort of, technical terms and things and Lynn then talked about the importance of, I suppose, bringing everyone along with you on the ride when it comes to this transition. And language is a big part of that.


Barry O'Kane  39:37

The other thing that stood out really from this conversation for me was when Lynn talked about policy, and she described policy being done to people rather than with people. And she also really talked about the work, the tying together policy,  which can be very removed from reality, and tying in the actual real, on the ground research and data. So she talked literally about speaking to people in people's houses, talking about how they use materials, and clothes and so on. And tying that all the way up into how that informs academic or white papers that inform policy. So that was a nice theme that I thought came through.


Emily Swaddle  40:13

Yeah, Dr. Lynn has done a lot of research over the course of her career. And it was so interesting to get a little insight into different bits that she's done, you know, hearing about this project that she was involved with, and this thing she's doing and that thing and she seems like a very busy person, and it's very impressive and I encourage you all to have a listen so you can get a little snippet of all of the things that she's been learning about and sharing as well you know, all the interesting stuff that we can learn from her and her work.


Barry O'Kane  40:41

So that was Season Seven!


Emily Swaddle  40:42

What a season! What was your favourite part Barry?


Barry O'Kane  40:45

It's hard to pick one thing out. I have to say, the whole thing. I think just keep coming away with those, as I said at the start was two broad themes. The first one being embracing complexity and finding that exciting rather than daunting and the potential and working out how to live and make change within the real world complexity of all of this stuff. And the second one, to tie in the role of technology, which is one of the overarching themes of this whole podcast, and how that needs to sit in with the system and be complimentary to and understand the context. And so in order for the technology to be useful, we need to have this, just use that word, again, systemic understanding.


Emily Swaddle  41:26

I kind of loved that, you know, this is the third season we've done now around Circular Economy. And I think I said in the first episode, like, I suppose I might have been a little sceptical, that we had more things to talk about. And then, you know, we were going to hone in on this specific area of like consultants and people supporting the people who are making the change towards this transition. And having reflected on the whole season, I'm really glad that we chose to do that, because not only has it, sort of deepened my learning and understanding of the Circular Economy and where we're at in this specific moment, in terms of that transition. But also, kind of like what a consultant is, which is one of those jobs that I think can be quite difficult to sort of describe if you don't work in that world, and I am not a consultant. I know people who are consultants, and I think they'll be grateful to hear that this season has helped me understand that profession a bit more. And particularly in the context of Circular Economy, you know, that complexity that you just spoke about, Barry that we've been speaking about, sort of all season, really, it's really understandable that that is a difficult place to be ,that it can be anxiety inducing that it can, that the uncertainty of that can make people just want to turn away. But having a guide through that complexity, or having support from people who have experience in your industry, but in other industries and like with all kinds of businesses that can be so helpful and can be really empowering. And it's almost as if, like, the image that comes to mind is sort of like a garden, where the consultants are like bees that are going round and helping, like pollinate all the plants from the other plants, and that's kind of nice that it's a little sort of like helps this ecosystem grow. And we need people who are buzzing around on all sorts of different sides of the garden in order to help it all flourish. That's the page that I come away with.


Barry O'Kane  43:29

I think that's a wonderful analogy, wonderful image to finish the season on. Thanks for joining me yet again, Emily. I think it's been a wonderful season.


Emily Swaddle  43:37

Thank you, Barry. It's been fun.


Barry O'Kane  43:38

And for those listening, please do reach out if you have thoughts, feedback, ideas for future content and seasons that we can do. We'd really like to hear from you. Thanks again.


Emily Swaddle  43:47

Bye! Thank you for listening to this episode of HappyPorch Radio. You can find past episodes, transcripts and Show Notes at You can also get in touch with us there and let us know what you think or if you have any ideas or comments. Please rate the podcast, share and subscribe so that more people can find the show.


Barry O'Kane  44:06

Thanks for listening. My name is Barry O'Kane. I founded HappyPorch who fund and support this podcast. At HappyPorch we do technology and software development for purpose led businesses and we're particularly excited about the role of digital as an enabler for the Circular Economy. If you're working on solutions to the big problems we face today, problems like climate change, biodiversity loss and global inequality then let's connect,visit and get in touch.

Emily Swaddle  44:28

And I'm Emily Swaddle, podcaster coach, facilitator and storyteller. You can find me on my other podcast, the Carbon Removal Show, and you can find out more about that project and everything else I do at where you can also subscribe to my Newsletter All about Rest. If you're interested in anything I do, feel free to connect. You can email me on [email protected]