Janine Benyus on Biomimicry

Biomimicry is innovation inspired by nature. It’s a practice of learning from and then emulating life designs, processes, and ecosystem strategies in order to create a more sustainable human world.

It turns out that whether you are a bacteria, or a fungi, or a plant, or mammal, or bird, there are certain operating rules for how to be an Earthling. That’s what we call life’s principles. Life builds from the bottom up with a small subset of materials that it adds design to. It doesn’t use all of the elements in the periodic table, just a small, safe subset. There are also things like how life learns and adapts to changing conditions in this generation, and how life evolves through generations; literally, how it does that by paying exquisite detail to feedback and by replicating what works. So, there are about 26 life principles now, things that we have found that organisms have in common. What they turn out to be in practice is, we use them with inventors of all stripes. When we talk about design it may be the design of an organization, or the design of your community, the design of a farming coop, or it might be the design of a product. So we use these principles to scope out what sort of characteristics you want your design to have; that’s the scoping, you want it to have these characteristics of being self-healing, being able to learn over time.

Janine M. Benyus is an American natural sciences writer, innovation consultant, and author.

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