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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature » User review


  • Jun 25, 2010
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     This book was one of the most talked-up books among my peers of sustainability majors, and rightfully so. It is elegantly written, packed full of inspiring yet simple ideas, and is the solution to many of the problems we as humans have created. Biomimicry is the study of how to make our textiles and goods like those in nature (durable and functional, without adversely affecting any other creature but actually providing something for them), and reinventing our processes so they can be done without harsh chemicals, extreme pressure, or intense heat. It is an amazing and simple concept, to look to nature to solve our production problems. Nature, having been around for 3.85 billion years, knows much better than humans do about what works and what doesn’t, and what doesn’t work isn’t here any more. This book is so hopeful compared to the doom and gloom most environmental books discuss. What we have are tried and tested innovations to meeting animals’ needs that could easily be adapted for human use, and we are quickly gaining all the technology and resources to be able to tap into all of this potential and use it to better our world.

Biomimicry is based on nine key principles:
Nature runs on sunlight.
Nature uses only the energy it needs.
Nature fits form to function.
Nature recycles everything.
Nature rewards cooperation.
Nature banks on diversity.
Nature demands local expertise.
Nature curbs excesses from within.
Nature taps the power of limits.

     Benyus captures the beauty, strength, power, flexibility, and overall usefulness of several of nature’s innovations to demonstrate these principles in ways that most everyone can understand despite incorporating some more complex biological processes. The abalone shell is applauded for its strength, which can withstand greater compression than any of our man-made textiles. It also has an adhesive that not only is eventually completely biodegradable, but also is stronger than any adhesive humans know, and can attach to substrates, while submerged! Spiders are admired for their webs: pound for pound, they are stronger than Kevlar. Imagine all the possibilities for our world, if we could make them in the same, life-sustaining conditions as the animals do, and use their processes and elements to make all of our goods.

     Benyus has founded an organization, the Biomimicry Institute, that works to further research and education about biomimicry, its importance, and its applications. She has also given talks on TED.com.
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July 03, 2010
Great review! I went to Greenbuild in Boston in 2008, the Biomimcry Institute people were there. I love their website and especially their AskNature database! Have you read Cradle to Cradle by any chance? I think you would love that book as well. 
About the reviewer
Stephanie Krajnik ()
Ranked #850
Hi! I'm a college student, pursuing degrees in Sustainable Business (I'm a tree hugger), Biology, and Environmental Studies. I love being in school, learning new things, and meeting new people. … more
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