I remember watching Janine Benyus’s TED Talk last semester and enjoyed watching more from her this past week. Benyus is one of the most prominent proponents of incorporating biomimicry into design and our daily lives. She believes that we are “surrounded by genius”, that genius being the earth. The earth has sustained itself for millions of years and has gone through many shifts environmentally. Biomimicry is something that learns from nature and takes its advice. Benyus used the season Spring as an example–how is Spring orchestrated and organized? Nature. Nature has designed and invented mechanisms and systems that cause the seasons to change. Maybe if we as humans took some cues from nature, we could create sustainable buildings and other things that blend in with the rest of the earth.
Humans grow up with this idea that we are the reason the earth is still spinning, but with this mentality we actually are causing the earth to deteriorate. We have this mindset that “bigger is better”, when nature tells us otherwise. Nature isn’t there to be used up, nature is there to be a model, measure, and mentor for us humans. Nature uses what it needs and nothing more, and think of how the earth could benefit from us taking note of that.
I also remember using asknature.org last semester during CPS, but I didn’t really look into it then. I always have thoughts about how to incorporate more sustainable practices into my life, but never can come up with actual solutions. Asknature.org is an amazing resource for me to find solutions that incorporate biomimicry and sustainability.
I found the reading about “closing the loops” very informative and eye opening. Benyus, the author, touched on the ten tenets of Industrial Psychology, but the three tenets that stuck out the most to me were: shop locally, use materials sparingly, and remain in balance with the biosphere. When it comes to shopping, animals cannot import products from across the world. Animals and nature as a whole use the materials and products that are closest to them instead of wasting materials to find something far away. I know that where I am from, shopping locally has become a huge trend. People are starting to care more about where their products came from instead of just finding the cheapest product. Just think: if we took note from nature and became more conscious about where all of the products we use come from, not only would it save resources that would otherwise be used to transport things, it would help and build up the local economy. When it comes to using materials, people say that “less is more” but in reality people live by a “more is more” approach. If we took a note from nature, we would realize that nature builds for “durability”, it doesn’t “overbuild”. Nature builds systems that have more than one purpose–having more than one purpose uses up less resources. Just think if we came up with design solutions that served more than one purpose, we could become more conscious about the amount of materials used. Remaining in balance with the biosphere is all about closing the loop. The atmosphere includes a bunch of different gases, and in order for humans to survive, the gases must remain in a particular balance. However, as humans, we also add a lot of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. How does nature account for this unbalance? I guess nature does what it always does when presented with change–it adapts.
I found it interesting how industrial ecology really ties in the use of biomimicry into promoting business growth. Yeah, people can talk about how to incorporate biomimicry into design, but how does it make business more efficient and effective? Industrial ecology is all about using the whole system, like a supply chain. Industrial ecology focuses on using the least amount of materials possible, while also promoting innovation and competitiveness. I really like the thought of perceiving everything as a system because the earth is a completely intertwined and complicated system, everything works together. Its really our purpose to tie into the earth’s system instead of trying to create our own system, because obviously both systems can’t and won’t thrive the way things are going now. A principle of industrial ecology that really stood out to me was that the earth must remain in balance. The earth’s ecosystem is complicated and intricate, and we must be respectful of that. If we cause the earth to become unbalanced, then the earth will become unlivable and will begin to crumble beneath us. If we really care about being able to live and survive, then we must respect the balance that the earth creates.
Honestly, I am not good about “recycling” or reusing things. I am one of those people that buys a new item if something breaks instead of trying to repair it. I throw away a bunch of things and buy a lot of things. I think as a fashion major, it’s difficult to think about not buying new things; the goal of my major is to make people want to buy things, not reuse what they have. I think that’s a challenge that I will face personally and professionally. Keeping a balance and reusing things is something that will have to be thought about. But in order for sustainable practices to become the “norm”, someone has to set an example and I guess that example could be me.