From Cowboys to Astronauts - Towards a Circular Economy

an Art from Waste exhibition

Event Image


The Enviro Hub, Devon Contract Waste - Marsh Barton Road, Marsh Barton, Exeter, Devon, EX2 8NU

27th April - 22nd May 2015 from 10 am to 5 pm

From Cowboys to Astronauts

The Enviro Hub, Devon Contract Waste,

from Monday, April 27th to Friday, May 22nd 2015, 10am to 5pm.

Imagine you're on a spaceship travelling thousands of miles above the earth. You have a limited amount of resources, on which you depend for your survival. Given the scarcity of your resources, you need to think of ways to manage them wisely, and consider minimising  waste and re-use.

In 1966, economist Kenneth E. Boulding wrote an essay  on ‘The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth’. In this, he envisioned the need for a movement away from what he termed a "cowboy economy“, based on the assumption of apparently boundless resources, to a "spaceman economy". He  made the analogy that  "the earth has become a single spaceship, without unlimited reservoirs of anything, either for extraction or for pollution, and in which, therefore, man must find his place in a cyclical ecological system".

The concept of “Spaceship Earth” conveyed the message that we are rapidly using up limited resources such as fossil fuels, some of which have taken billions of years to form - and creating  serious waste problems along the way.  

From Cowboys to Astronauts is an art from waste exhibition promoting the concept of a circular economy – a regenerative economic system where materials and energy from products are recovered and put back into the system instead of simply being disposed of. Invited artists will use waste materials to demonstrate what can be achieved when we move away from the throwaway mind-set that is endemic in our society.  

The artists have been working with the Centre for Alternative Materials and Remanufacturing Technologies (CALMARE), a business technology centre, part funded by the ERDF, based at the University of Exeter. The waste materials used in the exhibition have been sourced from the University itself and from other locations around Devon, including Exeter and Plymouth Scrapstores, Peninsula Waste Savers in Okehampton and the Devon County Council landfill sites managed by SITA.

In recent years as resource prices have risen and waste problems increased, there has been greater interest in developing a "Circular Economy" – and the opportunity has been widely promoted by the Dame Ellen MacArthur Foundation founded in 2010 by the former professional yachtswoman.

Entry to the exhibition will be free, and it will be open to the public from Monday to Saturday (except bank holidays) until the final Friday, May 22nd 2015.

Contact Details:
For more details, call 01392 725821 or email