The Circular Economy

What is the circular economy?

Traditionally, most economies in the world assume a linear economy. This means that resources are extracted, they are made into products and at the end of their useful lives they are discarded.  Some people call it the “take, make, waste”

Diagram: Wautelet, Thibaut. (2018). Exploring the role of independent retailers in the circular economy: a case study approach.








But at An Mheitheal Rothar, we believe that we must move towards a circular economy instead.  Sustainable design, reuse, repair, upcycling, recycling, composting, all these are examples of where life of items are extended if at all possible and waste is minimised or avoided.  Many people and organisations have been doing these because of environmental and/or economic reasons for a long time, calling them “circular economy” activities is what’s new.  An Mheitheal Rothar’s ReCycle Your Cycle initiative takes bikes that would otherwise be scrap metal from the local council’s waste depot. These bikes are repaired and sold, extending their useful life.

Diagram: The circular economy. Source: European Parliament.

Circular economy skills

The circular economy is growing in many parts of the world as people seek to reduce the damage done to our natural environment via climate change, waste and pollution.

But the circular economy needs particular skills if it is to thrive. To repair products successfully requires people who can use their knowledge, creativity and experience to work out how to fix products and make them useful again.

A generation ago, fix-it skills were common. People knew how to “make do and mend” everything from their clothes to appliances – and bicycles! But the growth of mass production and globalisation means that the inhabitants of the world’s wealthier countries have lost a lot of those skills.

An Mheitheal Rothar teaches the skills to repair bikes to our trainees, using the bikes from the ReCycle Your Cycle initiative. Not only are these bikes creating a useful product, but they are creating hundreds of hours of practical training. This benefits all of us more than shipping them offshore to be melted down as scrap metal.

We also teach anyone who wants to learn to fix their own bike at our free volunteer-led DIY workshops. They can also use second hand parts from the ReCycle Your Cycle bikes for free – meaning lack of money is no barrier to having a safe, functional bike.  Between opening our doors as part of National Bike Week in June 2012, and February 2020 there was more than 3000 visits to our DIY workshops, increasing the capacity of Galway’s people to keep their own bike on the road.  None of the mechanics at the DIY workshops are paid, they are volunteers or trainee mechanics and everyone is there because they want to help people and it is a space where everyone can learn from eachother.

We believe that as communities seek to address environmental challenges like climate change, the growth of the circular economy is inevitable, whether we do it soon enough is the question.  Skills training is a vital part of making it happen.  We’re proud to be community leaders helping the circular economy to grow in the west of Ireland and beyond.

Opening hours

Bike Shop
Unit 21-22 Galway Shopping Centre
Headford Road
Tues-Sat: 9am-7pm
Sun: Closed
Mon: Closed

Community Workshop
Block R, Earl’s Island
University Road,
NUI Galway
(Usually 6-9pm Wednesdays
12-3pm Saturdays
Closed Bank Holidays)

Siopa Ollscoile
Old Handball Alley
Earl’s Island
University Road
Galway H91 EF83

Contact Info

Phone: 085 2832866
Address: An Mheitheal Rothar,
Unit 21-22 Galway Shopping Centre, Headford Road, Galway


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