Life is the most baffling chemical reaction ever witnessed. Compared to the unaware exchange of energy that creates and destroys relatively simple molecules, life is persistent. It has goals. Ancient generations of ribosomal DNA began replicating themselves, and thereby gave birth to a 3.6 billion-year-long chemical reaction that has become aware of itself. That’s amazing, but I suspect anything that has been perfected over a few million millennia is going to be pretty fantastic. Nature has more answers than we have questions, yet we have a nasty tendency to think of ourselves as vastly superior. In reality, we are the creatures who’ve created the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. If you don’t automatically realize how very shortsighted that is, just ask yourself, “Is it appropriate to keep my trash in my bathtub?” Nope.

This is precisely why bio mimicry and industrial ecology are so significant to sustainability. Every problem life encountered left a solution written in our genetic code. Solutions created by life and tested by time are on display everywhere if we simply take the time to notice. If we draw inspiration from nature we can create more sustainable and efficient practices, whether it is fabric that insulates like a pine cone or factories that work together like an ecosystem to recycle waste.

Unfortunately, the use of bio mimicry and industrial ecology has not yet been able to defeat the problems we have created for the planet. I genuinely care about the environment, but it is difficult to live a sustainable lifestyle in this industrialized world. I discovered that my yearly carbon footprint is comprised of a hefty 23 tons of CO2 and the U.S. average per person is 27 tons in GHG emissions. I was not surprised, but that’s still a harsh reality considering the world average is 5.5 tons of CO2. I found that the single largest contributor to my footprint was my very spacious, albeit old and inefficient, home. If we as a society could quell our materialistic obsessions and live with less, that would be of tremendous value to the planet. If we could then go further and use nature’s blueprints to create what we did need, the future would be bright indeed.

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