She starts her talk on a subject close to her heart, and within which she has had great success – solo sailing and racing. Then she shows how the lessons she learned in this sport caused her to begin a five year exploration of the global economy. Watch to see if you agree with her conclusions.

Who is she:

Starting out with a desire to be a veterinarian, Ellen Macarthur was told by her school that she did not have the brains for it. Disappointed, she turned to her other love, Sailing -fostered by an aunt who sailed, and by her reading of the Arthur Ransom’s books series, “Swallows and Amazons” she became enamored of racing, especially single handed racing. She still holds several solo records, some 15 years after she set them. Her sailing exploits caused her to be named as a Dame of the British Empire, and as a holder of the French legion d’Honneur, and above all to question our global waste of finite resources.

Why you should listen:

When we hear stories of resource shortages, global warming, and watch rising prices, record corporate and bank profits, it’s easy to lose hope, bur Ellen Macarthur suggests what we need is a circular, not a linear economy. See what she means by this phrase.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What lesion did she learn through around the globe racing?
  2. What does she mean by “linear economy”?
  3. She calls for a paradigm shift to a “circular economy” What are some of the characteristics of this as she describes it?
  4. Have you had any experience being told by someone in authority that you just can’t do something? Describe that to someone.
  5. Macarthur’s foundation works in three areas to bring about the circular economy – business, education and insight. Have you ever had an insight into how the world could be made better?
  6. Macarthur speaks about how the world running out of coal in a hundred and eighteen years is well past her lifetime. Can we overcome the “not my problem – I’ll be dead” thinking? How?

Making Connections:

Is her idea of the circular economy just pie in the sky thinking? Do you wonder how the circular economy could actually be implemented? Here is a link to a surprising video illustrating how:

The surprising thing I learned sailing solo around the world with Ellen MacArthur


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