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Debbie Ward

Debbie spent a good proportion of her career in marketing and business development in the built environment sector. Her interest in sustainability and in more recent years the circular economy, prompted her to undertake a PG Cert in Innovation, Enterprise and the Circular Economy. Increasing involvement with the CE agenda over several years through work and being co-organiser of the local Circular Economy Club chapter resulted in Debbie establishing Cirklo Consult to focus on circular economy related training, education and advisory projects, including Carbon Literacy training. Debbie's keen interest in CE in construction then led to her becoming a Director of The Rebuild Site CIC. Debbie currently also works part time with EnTRESS at the University of Wolverhampton supporting SMEs to adopt sustainable, circular strategies.

Listen to the episode

Tune in to find out about:


  • Debbie's expertise in circular economy advisory.
  • Carbon literacy training in the construction sector, 
  • Debbie’s support for environmental sustainability programs.
  • Debbie’s role as a Volunteer Director at the Rebuild site, a project focused on repurposing construction surplus materials for charitable causes.
  • The importance of the circular economy in driving systemic change, particularly in relation to climate change and social settings.
  • The significance of circular hubs within local communities.
  • Relatable experiences of entering the sustainability field without technical backgrounds.
  • And much more!


S7E8 Audiogram image

Barry O'Kane  00:10

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of HappyPorch Radio season seven. Today we had the incredible pleasure of speaking to Debbie Ward. Debbie is Director of Cirklo Consult, who deliver a Circular Economy rated training, education and advisory services. And addition to that she wears a number of other hats all driven by her strong passion for the importance of the Circular Economy. Emily, this was I thought, a very wide ranging conversation, and she had so much value to offer and so much depth and thinking and work different things. She's playing different roles and jobs she's doing that I feel like we've barely scratched the surface.

Emily Swaddle  00:45

We did. And you know, what I liked about this conversation is that a lot of the things that Debbie said, I really related to, you know. She was talking about, like, her position not coming from a technical background, but still coming into this climate, environmental circular space. I totally relate to that. Also, the importance that, you know, the value that she brings, even though she's not coming from a technical background, I thought she really demonstrated all of her expertise. And also she was very realistic when it comes to, like, the scale of the challenge that we're facing, you know, she doesn't wear rosy coloured glasses when she's looking at this. And yet, there's still, you know, enthusiasm and hope and drive to make change.

Barry O'Kane  01:30

And also, I think, really delivered on the promise and the goal of this season, which is to look at this wider systemic issue. I mean, this conversation totally delivered on that, I thought. Really important part of the work that she's doing is tying the circular economy to climate. And her carbon literacy training has a circular economy theme built in. She talked about the importance of the circular economy, in the social setting and in local communities. She talked passionately, right at the end of the conversation about the role of circular hubs and of all different types in local communities and how exciting that is, and could be more so. But then also, we talked a lot about the systemic change within the construction industry and how both difficult that is and how there are, as she describes it, pockets of brilliance.

Emily Swaddle  02:17

Yes, listeners, stick around to the end of the conversation because that community stuff comes to the end, and it's really good and juicy, so it's worth the wait.

Barry O'Kane  02:25

Nice. So without any further ado, let's meet Debbie

Debbie Ward  02:29

Hi, thanks very much for having me along to the HappyPorch podcast. My name is Debbie Ward, got a few different hats really. Firstly, I've got a small Circular Economy Advisory business called Cirklo Consult. My main focus at the moment is carbon literacy training with a circular economy bent. So just kicking off some construction sector training on that. And then I also work a few days a week, part time, at the University of Wolverhampton with the EnTRESS programme, an ERDF funded programme. So it's coming to the end of its contract, unfortunately. But we work with SMEs in the Black Country in Stoke and Staffordshire. I'm helping support them be more environmentally sustainable, whether that be building fabric, whether it's wasting resources, whether it's carbon emissions, so quite a wide variety of work there. And then I'm also a Volunteer Director at the Rebuild site up in Carlisle, which is a model where we take construction surplus materials from sites and builders, merchants and sell them on at discounted price through a depo. And also through an application system, give some materials away for free to charities and school projects and a few different things implies, whether they're sort of voluntary, stuff, circular economy related as well. So yeah, busy, busy.

Barry O'Kane  03:43

Awesome. Thank you so much. And really, thank you for joining us on the podcast, really appreciate you coming along. And taking part in these conversations. One of the reasons that I really wanted to speak to you was that one of the hats you're wearing there, you described about carbon and circular economy and how those two things sort of overlap and connect. I think that's a really interesting conversation to start. But before all of that, one of the things that we always like to ask our guests is what brought you to doing this kind of work, what brought you to this multiple hats you're wearing and the journey to where you are now.

Debbie Ward  04:15

Windy road, I suppose really, historically, my background has been in marketing and business development, and for about 20 years of my career, if you want to call it that, I worked in the construction sector. And I think the, sort of, latter part of my time doing business development, the construction sector, I became more and more interested in sustainability and the build environments impact from a sustainability perspective, from an ecosystem perspective. And that kind of led me to the circular economy. And a number of years ago now I did a postgraduate certificate at the University of Bradford and MacArthur Foundation, Pioneer University. So having done that innovation, enterprise and Circular Economy qualification that really kind of gave me the additional knowledge to kind of dive in. So kind of any opportunity, I was sort of talking at breakfast seminars, you know, if anybody stood next to me, when networking at business development events, it'd be okay, if I don't stand next to Debbie, she's gonna talk to him about circular economy. And you know, it's just something that I've become more and more passionate about as something that we need to be integrating into the way we live and work really. And then came COVID and lockdown. And I had the sort of opportunity by being made redundant with my current role to say, Okay, well, this is it, let's go for this full time, and kind of changed over from business development into sort of circular economy roles, and just I've taken every opportunity since to get involved. You know, I was one of the two people that set up the West Midlands and Birmingham Circular Economy Chapter. And we've been running that for five years now, and sort of being involved in different projects with the Combined Authority on the Circular Economy Routemap through that Circular Economy Club. Almost, so much happening within Circular Economy, and yet, still not enough, I think you can get in quite a bubble, really, with your sort of peer group and people who follow on LinkedIn and Twitter and all the rest of it. And you can feel that everybody knows about it, and everybody's doing it. And then you step outside of your bubble. And you think, Okay, it's only that sort of small percentage. I mean, it's definitely becoming more heard about more, known about, but I think it's interesting, because still, it's all Circular Economy, isn't that about waste and recycling? A little bit. So long way to go. I firmly believe, you know, from a climate change and carbon reduction perspective, that Circular Economy is one of the solutions that we need to have in our toolkit to enable the change to happen, that's required.

Barry O'Kane  06:33

Brilliant, thank you. So it sounds like a journey as well, because I guess, just to touch quickly on one of the things you said there. Driven by COVID and redundancy, you kind of took the chance to kind of step further into this direction. Just before we get into more of the specifics. Was that a scary or a difficult decision to do, to step out into doing this work?

Debbie Ward  06:51

In some ways, yes. I mean, I think when the subject matter is something you're passionate about, I think it feels like the right thing to do. But I guess one of the things that has been a little bit difficult is if you talk about sort of sustainability from a constructions perspective, and looking at it purely on a CV from a job application perspective, you know, I don't do Environmental Impact Assessments. I don't do BREEAM assessments. You know, I'm not an ISO 14,001 Auditor. I think from a - You do sustainability. well, you must do this, well, I don't. I've come from a marketing business development background. But I think in a lot of the conversations that I have, kind of coming from a slightly different background, and then moving into Circular Economy as a specific niche. I think the conversations I'm having a lot of people say, Well, that's actually really useful, because you are able to keep taking that step back and say, well, this needs to be practical, it needs to be pragmatic, you need to be showing how to do it, not just the theory about it. And I guess, because I've done a qualification academically in it, I can also fall into the trap of wanting to explain all of the theory and feeling the need to explain all of the theory, before we get to the practical, but I think I'm also, as I say, quite good at sort of having a more rounded business view of it to say, you need to be looking at that balance. I mean, one of the reasons why my logo says CirkloConsult, Creating Balance is because kind of analogy I often go back to when I'm presenting on circular economy and sustainability, is that really old image of kind of a little Roman temple kind of triangle at the top and the three pillars of economic, social, and environmental. And you do just need to create the balance. And I think by kind of having a different background and coming at it in different ways, sometimes I think that can be useful, as I say, from which boxes, do you take perspective, sometimes it can be a disadvantage, as well. 

Barry O'Kane  08:46

Brilliant, thank you for sharing that.

Emily Swaddle  08:48

Totally relate with you, Debbie, I have been in spaces before where I felt like, I have no, you know, sciency background, I don't know if I know enough about this on like, that sort of like, technical level in terms of the environmental conversation that we're about to have. But actually, you know, people have told me Oh, it's really nice to have a perspective that isn't the scientific one. And in these conversations that Barry and I have had so often people talk about the importance of when we're talking about transition or change towards circularity, the importance of getting everyone on board, you know, people in finance, people in legal, people in marketing, and to be honest, they're not their practices. Their hearts and minds aren't going to be changed by the numbers or the science of it all. It's more about the understanding of how things work. And, the sort of like, the knowledge that comes from having not necessarily been in that specific silo, I think it's really cool, you don't necessarily have the, sort of, scientific background. And then this is actually something that you're passionate about and pursue anyway. And particularly in a field like construction, I imagine it's a bit more, it's even more sort of difficult in that industry.

Debbie Ward  09:52

I think, unfortunately, with the changes that we need to make to address climate change issues, we're still very much a behaviour change stage. And whilst we have a lot of the technology, the processes, the arguably not the infrastructure, but we have the knowledge to do a lot of what we need to do, but for whatever reasons that you can read about in a myriad of articles as to why we're not doing it, we're still not making changes at the scale, we need to be making the map. And I think the more people that are able to kind of have a sound knowledge of the science, but not necessarily a detailed knowledge of it, and can apply that across different stakeholders, to enable them to understand why they need to be doing what they're doing. Looking at sort of the longer term picture really, I think, is a really important piece, then, you know, you need all of those different people and all of those different mindsets to be able to make those changes.

Barry O'Kane  10:54

Yes, that makes complete sense. Thank you. And thank you also for sharing that story about, I guess, transitioning. I think that's really relevant for us in this podcast, and the audience and the people we speak to, I feel really passionately that we need as professionals and businesses, we shouldn't be seeing this sustainability and circular economy as a separate conversation. But there's a real opportunity for us to take our professional lives and our professional skills, and apply those and actually be involved in things like, circularity conversations and change, including going all the way to doing the work that you're doing. But even if it's not all the way in but sort of actually being involved. That's a really important story to tell, as you said, to make that bubble bigger. So jumping on to some of the two other things you said- One, you use the term sort of seeing the ecosystem changes that are needed, and that led you to Circular Economy. And then you talk about doing the carbon literacy training and how important that is or circularity is to that. So can you talk a little bit more about that?

Debbie Ward  11:50

I think, you know, what the carbon literacy project specifically, there was obviously, you know, that training as well as that is done over the years and is continuing to do is really interesting. You know, I guess there's different ways to skin a cat as the phrase goes, but I think with my knowledge of the circular economy, and how that can map out that, you know, as Ellen MacArthur Foundation says, you know, it's the 45% of the stuff, you know, it's all well and good decarbonising energy, but there's a whole other piece that we need to look at as well. So I've incorporated circular economy into my carbon literacy training. Because I think it's a way of turning things on its head a little bit of how you might look at different ways of reducing your carbon impact. And, you know, just looking at it from a waste hierarchy perspective, even just to make it really simple, you know, and having Well do we really want to get into the degrowth conversation. But you know, having the refuse at the top of the waste hierarchy is a big thing, which often you don't see there. And we know quite often it starts with reduce, and, you know, taking all the way that all the way down, you know, the repair the repurposing, refurbishing, manufacturing, you know, and then you've got the recycling, right ,at the very bottom. But all of those different actions and different strategies are all circular strategies. It's all about looping those materials around. But then also relating that story, back to the reduction of carbon emissions, and whether you just argue that being more circular is just buying us time, because ultimately, you can still only loop things a certain amount of time, particularly with some materials, aluminium is infinitely loopable. But other materials aren't, you know, but it's just having a different mindset, I think, and by using circular economy strategies and principles, as a way of framing how you can reduce your carbon emissions, I think is really practical and really implementable either for an individual or for an organisation. And whilst the two don't always marry up, you know, potentially sometimes a low zero carbon solution isn't the most circular or the most circular isn't necessarily the most carbon efficient. I think, again, that comes back to your balance, you know, conversations I have with companies quite a lot is about there is no perfect, and you just have to have a look at the changes you making as holistically as possible and sticking social value and societal needs, in the middle of it all, as well, obviously creates another massive set of considerations you have to make, you know, it may well be with a particular decision, you making that you've got a really good solution that's, you know, net zero carbon and really circular but it's really bad societally. Don't ask me, I can't think off the top of my head. But you know, I think it's really important to have that balance when you're making those decisions. And it doesn't make it any less complex to be trying to balance all of those things. But every decision we're making, and sometimes I drive my husband mad for the decisions that we're making, even just as a household, you know, Oh, let me look at the back of that package. What's that got in it? Or, you know, does that packaging got plastic in it? Or how many hours has it traveled? And it even, just as a householder, it can be really difficult to understand what the best decision is. And you know, and when you're looking at it from an organisational perspective, I think equally, you know, greenwashing is obviously becoming much more of an issue. And you can see in the press, a lot more legislation to come around which will be really interesting as to how that's audited. But I think we do really just have to use the tools that we've got available to us and be as informed as possible, and then decisions that we're making. But just acknowledging that it isn't perfect, but we've just got to genuinely make the best decisions at the time.

Barry O'Kane  15:32

That's something that I think I feel equally as strongly as you're describing there, that we don't need to tip 5 or 10% of the organisations and the people to be perfect. We need 90% to be better than they are now. So specifically about the carbon that tank out there circularity into the carbon literacy training,how do you find the reaction to that? Does it require an extra level of explanation? How does it change your affective reactions that you get from that training?

Debbie Ward  15:59

I've just started my first couple of courses from being carbon literacy project accredited, but when I've, kind of, dovetailed that message with the work that I've been doing with the University of Wolverhampton and you know that the audience feedback has been you know, that it makes sense that it's if you try and go into the intricacies of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation Butterfly Diagram and start talking about technological and biological cycles, you can get quite far into it. And to a degree, you know, if the people that it depends on your audience, isn't it, you know, the guys in the audience do have any influence around design, then it's obviously important for them to understand the technological and the biological and how that impacts on the you know, the whole life and the disassemble nature of that product and how those materials can then get put back in that loop. You know, obviously, if you know, the classic example in construction is to "screw not glue". So those materials can then be taken apart and looped and reused. I think, I guess I would say this because you know, when you've been doing it for quite a while it kind of feels like second nature, but it does feel like the circular economy principles do make sense and very much dovetail in to as I've discussed the carbon emissions reduction agenda.

Emily Swaddle  17:14

You mentioned, Debbie, a specific thing there about the Construction Industry of "screw not glue" and love that, hadn't heard that before. But it's a great one to remember. Is there anything else, like, specific to that industry that makes it really ripe? Not just, you know, for the challenges? I think, you know, we all know that it's sort of like energy intensive and material heavy industry. So the challenges can be quite obvious, but there may be the potential in this industry for more circular practices. And also for more carbon literacy, for more understanding of carbon emissions.

Debbie Ward  17:49

In the construction industry, particularly the bigger players are relatively well versed in not just carbon but also circularity. It is a different kind of legislation and guidance, there was a particular one that came out about 18 months ago that if you wanted to tender for projects, over 5 million pounds, you have to measure your Scope 1, Scope 2, Scope 3 and show a carbon reduction plan and publish that on your website. So you know, as I say, a lot of the larger players have done that quite publicly. And there are a number of different initiatives like, one particularly springs to mind, Grosvenor are doing quite a lot around materials reuse, and pushing that with them a number of different businesses within their supply chain, to look at, you know, showing the art of the possible and really trying to drive that. But I think just come off the back of it was launched a couple of months ago, a UKGBC report on Systems Enablers to Circular Economy in the construction industry. And we were talking, again, a lot about, kind of, the behaviour change piece, sort of using the three horizons model of kind of business as usual, the transition, horizon, and then horizon three of the ideal, everybody's doing Circular Economy, kind of, horizon if you like. And I think examples of circularity in the construction industry are becoming more frequent, but they're still quite a niche. And I gave a presentation to a group of students a few weeks ago, architecture students, and what I think is going to be quite interesting is changing the mindset of architects to say, It'd be interesting if, you know, when a client actually does this, to say, You haven't just got a blank piece of paper anymore, You've got a brief. And those are the materials that are available to you in a 50 mile radius designed the building, that's really what we need to be looking more at. Because by using much more of the materials that are already there, you're obviously massively reducing your embodied carbon. And again, it's just looking at things in a really different way, the infrastructure is not there, to really be able to do that. And you've got a big issue of particularly load bearing structures, load bearing materials from a warranty perspective. But you know, there's kind of a number of different examples, including the Rebuild site up in Carlisle, where, you know, we're taking those materials. There are only being people, it's a kind of sold a scene for people that come to the Depo. Because it's DIYers, it's small trades people, it's crafters even that come and get materials from us. But what you’re really needing to do is to scale up that model, where the infrastructure is that architects have got the confidence to specify reuse materials, because they know that the materials are available, and the client and the developer and well the whole supply chain really that's involved in it, got the confidence to specify and build with and use that building then. They've got the confidence that the materials are going to perform as they should. And as a massively risk averse industry. That's a difficult hurdle, a difficult barrier for reuse. I think it'll get there, I mean, you know, definitely steel reuse. There's some brilliant examples in Cleveland Steel. They are doing great things on that, taking predominantly steel from oil rigs. And there is a more complex sort of system for trying to take it from deconstruction sites out of buildings, it's not impossible. I think steel is a great example. The heritage you know, we've been doing it for a long time with heritage. You know, planning requires you to use reconditioned reuse bricks in heritage schemes or to match them as closely as possible if you have to use new but so I think there's a lot of knowledge in the heritage sector as well that we could tap into from a reuse perspective. But I think as well, you know, is designing for adaptability and flexibility in designing for disassembly. It really is kind of again, that behaviour changing mindsets, which is huge for quite a diverse and fragmented sector. And as I say there are pockets of brilliance and people really trying to push the envelope, but I think it needs some top down as well as bottom up. I mean, you know, even just looking at the VAT on new bills compared to refurbishments and redevelopment. The VAT on a refurbishment project is higher than it is on a new build. So you know, that's not really sending the right message.

Barry O'Kane  22:12

It is in fact sending 100% the opposite message. It's really interesting what you're describing there, where there is, you say, pockets of brilliance happening. And you've mentioned some examples there, which I haven't heard before. In the construction industry, that problem of a quality of warranty or understanding the materials, I've literally had conversations with construction companies saying, even if we have an excess pallet of something that was brand new, and we give it to somebody, or we wouldn't buy it back to reuse in the next project, because you know, there's a chain of evidence there, we need to know that it's, you know, there's a missing piece in that infrastructure. So the problems that are huge, but it's encouraging to hear that that is even a little bit of beginnings of momentum there. Do you think that in the example you give it where there's projects over 5 million have certain requirements that they need to meet? Do you think that it's only realistic for that kind of level of change across the whole sector to be driven by sort of policy or legislative changes? Or where is the point at which it becomes as a business model and economically, purely economically sensible decision, as well?

Debbie Ward  23:17

Well, I think from a supply chain perspective of the availability of materials and resources, you know, that's obviously, there's been issues with that recently with COVID. And Brexit, and then unfortunately, with the war in Ukraine, that has impacted the construction sector, hand in hand with availability of materials is obviously then the price of those materials. I think, you know, with certain materials, there will, in the future, come a stage where alternatives will be sought. And maybe reuse is one of those alternatives. I think from a housing association perspective, I know Clarion have got a Circular Economy strategy. So they're kind of one of the leading lights in that sector as well. I think councils, the public sector procures a lot of projects. And I think in addition to that sort of 5 million pound incentive from a carbon perspective, you know, they also need to be looking at, you know, easier things, not necessarily maybe even for building them, but you sort of look at how the fit out is being procured, you know, is that public sector fit out project leading on reuse, you know, they're looking for businesses that are selling refurbished furniture as opposed to brand new, there's lots of different ways of sending a message. And as I say, I think that the carbon example of over 5 million pounds is great, but there needs to be more, more and more leadership around that from a circularity perspective as well. I mean, the other really good example from a circular economy side is the Circular Economy Planning Statements that are in place in London, the Mayor of London and ReLondon worked on. So basically, if you are working on a project where that might go in for referral, that it's over a certain number of storeys high or if it's on greenbelts, can't remember exact criteria, but your planning application has to have a circular economy planning statement put in with that planning application. And that has to demonstrate the circular principles of, you know, designing for flexibility, adaptability and disassembly. How that will be audited in the future, I'm not entirely sure. But so again, there's levers being pulled to encourage the adoption of Circular Economy strategies in the construction industry. But it does tend to be higher up the chain that tends to be the bigger organisations that are looking at that.

Emily Swaddle  25:33

What is it in all of this, particularly in the construction industry, what is it, that makes you most hopeful when you look at everything that's going on, like, as you say, with the bigger companies, and that you've already mentioned that there are sort of pockets of innovation? Long term, we know we have to make a change. So what is it that makes you hopeful that it’s possible and happening and exciting?

Debbie Ward  25:56

It depends which day you catch me on as to whether I'm hopeful or not really to be honest. Do you know I think we've just got to keep on keeping on, really. So I think even if you have a day where you're not feeling so hopeful, I think you've just got to find the good examples and find the people that are having a motivated and hopeful day, and pull some of that hope and motivation of them if you're not having such a good one. But things have to change. And I think with a combination of top down and bottom up, we are changing. And between architects, you know one example chat with architects, they're doing a lot of really good things around not just what they do on the projects, also through social media, you know, looking at different sustainable and circular materials and promoting those out to the sort of wider construction industry. You know, there are a lot of new businesses with new processes, with new materials. You know, there's people like Biohm that are looking at mycelium, mushroom roots, the insulation panels. So, and equally Grosvenor is an example. They're looking at targeting the RIBA LETI. You've got particular targets of tonnes of carbon per square metres and you know Grosvenor are working on a project at the moment that's going to fit in with those recommendations when it's complete. So I think there's plenty of examples to show what can be done. It's getting those into, kind of, the mass market when that tipping point is going to happen, it just needs to happen more quickly than is happening.

Barry O'Kane  27:23

100% agree with that. I quite like what you say there about not shying away from the fact that some days are just hard. And you just have to keep pushing on, pushing on.

Emily Swaddle  27:30

And you also mentioned earlier that this is just a hard thing to do, that this transition in general, it's just difficult. So like, I really appreciate the realism. It's important to keep reminding ourselves that we're trying to do something hard. It's not that we might be bad at it. But also, it's really hard so we can forgive ourselves.

Barry O'Kane  27:40

Unfortunately, we're running out of time, there's a couple of things that you mentioned that I'd love to explore, you said, you quite rightly said, we don't have time to get into the degrowth conversation that will be fascinating. The role of servitisation and sort of things like heating and lighting as a service in the construction, there's a whole lot of other things, we will do our best to link in the Show Notes to some of the examples and things that you mentioned there for listeners who want to go and check out some more. But just to finish off this conversation, what's next for you and the work that you're doing? What do you see as the next most exciting things that you want to or that you will be doing?

Debbie Ward  28:17

Well, I think something that I haven't talked about, which is another little bit of a soapbox of mine, is the connection of resource management and community resilience. We have talked a bit about the social side of things, build environment obviously dovetails into that as well. But something that I would like to explore further and something that I have done a little bit with my work with interest at the University of Wolverhampton, we recently did an event with Walsall Housing Group, because they can see that link definitely between making more out of the resources that you've got, be it for economic reasons, be it for environmental reasons, initiatives, like repair cafes, and libraries of things, and community gardens, you know, all those. We've been working with an allotment organisation as well. And you know, that kind of base circularity of growing your own food, putting your food waste in the composting bin, making compost that fertilises your food that helps grow better food. And you know, that's just a simple loop. But it's such an important one. And you know, the whole thing around food and food waste and educating people more about where their food comes from and growing your own. And the whole thing then with repair cafes, and libraries of things, you know, extending the resources that you've got, you know, and whether you're going there, as I say, from a less affluent, you know, demographic where you need to be able to repair things or borrow things. But whether you're going there because you believe it's the right thing to do environmentally. I really believe by having examples, tangible examples of circularity on your doorstep, you know, your high streets are needing to regenerate it, you've got leveling up funding, you've got shared prosperity funding. Communities are in need of better infrastructure and driving that kind of resilient communities agenda. And I really believe these sort of circular hubs are a way of doing it. You might be the boss of a construction industry, but you're also an individual, potentially with kids, you know, that might take them along to a repair cafe. And I think having something that's community based, in high street, where people can drop in and understand what it's all about, is a great way to influence not only taking that back into the household, not only to educate kids. It's also spreading that circular message and that zero carbon message to members of businesses that can take it back into their businesses. And I think that kind of community hub where you're demonstrating all of that, you know, potentially having a cafe that's being fed by the community garden and you know, a zero waste shop that might sell things that repaired and the repair cafe that people don't, you know, they just donate it to be repaired rather than wanting it to be repaired and take it away and the skill sharing that can be involved in that, you know, employment opportunities. There's an organisation called All Saints Action Network based in Wolverhampton it's doing that a lot, a lot of that already. They've got a wood recycling centre with a kind of a carpenter's furniture making kind of workshop to one side of it, they've got the cafe and the community gardens. And, you know, we need to be supporting more organisations like that, that are demonstrating the circular economy strategies and net-zero strategies, but very much from a community and social value perspective, rather than an organisation perspective.

Emily Swaddle  31:24

I'm so glad you brought that up, Debbie, thank you for mentioning this. I think, I agree, it’s so vitally important. And, you know, you've mentioned from like, you know, the community resilience side, and I think from like an emotional resilience side as well, you know, as individuals, if we have a community safety net, in some ways, like whether that's to do with provision of food, or whatever provision of anything, is a pressure that doesn't lie on a one individual shoulders. It's a shared collective responsibility and really ties into emotional resilience as well, which is vital when we're living through all of these crises that we're forever living through. So yeah, thank you for bringing that up.

Barry O'Kane  32:06

And thank you for joining us on the podcast. It's been a really fun conversation. Just finally, for those listening who want to find out more about you and the work that you do, where should they go?

Debbie Ward  32:16

LinkedIn, I'm on LinkedIn. That's the best place to catch me.

Barry O'Kane  32:19

Awesome. Thank you so much. As usual, we'll link that and everything else that we can on the Show Notes on Thank you, Debbie. Really appreciate your time today. Thanks for joining us.

Debbie Ward  32:27

Thanks, guys. Have a good day.

Emily Swaddle  32:29

Thank you, Debbie.

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  32:49

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  33:11

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]