What Would Nature Do?

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

If we were just starting out at the beginning of time and didn’t know much about how to thrive, we would need to look no further than nature for instruction according to Janine Benyus*. Just by looking closely, we would see that nature, among many other things:

  • Uses only the energy it needs
  • Fits form to function
  • Recycles everything
  • Rewards cooperation
  • Banks on diversity
  • Maintains integrity through self-renewal

Don’t those guiding principles** seem like they would serve a deserted island full of shipwrecked passengers equally well as a tech company full of engineers striving to make the latest great thing? According to Benyus, it’s because they are design principles that, “create conditions conducive to life.” Whether we are building a business or a community, a relationship, or a policy manual, Benyus encourages us to look to nature as our mentor when we grapple with life’s creative questions, like:

  1. How will we heal ourselves?
  2. How will we conduct business?

There is an integrity, an inherent harmony to imitating nature’s genius.

It’s called biomimicry
In the interest of long-lasting strength and sustainability, biomimicry is an emerging discipline that emulates nature’s designs and processes when building infrastructures of all kinds. Industrialized cultures may not have appreciated the genius of nature as a guide in the past, but we can moving forward. As Benyus says, “We’re awake now. The question is how do we stay awake to the living world? How do we make the act of asking nature’s advice a normal part of everyday inventing?”

Spintex, a spider-inspired silk company, did just that by taking inspiration from spider silk. Often cited as one of the strongest biological materials in the world, scientists have long sought to crack the spider silk code. Spintex Engineering managed to, which allowed  them to develop a liquid gel that “mimics a spider spinnerets’ ability to spin fiber at room temperature without harsh chemicals.” according to Learn Biomimicry.” Their process is 1,000 times more energy-efficient than synthetic petroleum fibers, with water as their only by-product.” One more reason to be awe-struck by nature.

With Saturday being Earth Day, what do you think nature would have us do? Being spring, I bet it would encourage us to begin anew in whatever area of our life could use some new growth or renewal. After all, “Maintains integrity through self-renewal is biomimicry principle #5. It’s hard to operate without a replenishing source of energy.
To another brave new day in the natural world,
*Janine Benyus is the author of Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature (among other books) and co-founder of Biomimicry Institute, a non-profit dedicated to making biology a natural part of the design process.

**Click here for all 26 biomimicry principles of life.

Note: When talking about nature’s genius, it’s hard to ignore her fury. What are we to take from that? It’s a question worth pondering