Best of SoS: Janine Benyus

This past spring, Sustainable World Coalition co-produced the 2nd annual Spring of Sustainability (SoS), the largest virtual sustainability gathering ever. SoS brought the “best and brightest” leaders in sustainability to the world through teleconference dialogues.

Each week, in our Best of SoS feature, we review one of our favorite episodes. Like what you see? Head over to our upgrade page for a special offer to own the entire Spring of Sustainability series. 

JanineBenyusPreferredBiomimicry – “innovation inspired by nature.” The key to understanding where we’ve gone wrong as humans, and to learning how to solve the most perplexing global problems.

“Always ask, ‘How would nature solve this?’” advised Janine Benyus, the godmother of Biomimicry, in her SoS interview on May 1st. “Life has been on earth for 3.8 billion years and has learned to do everything we want to do in ways that advance life. The solution is always ingenious.”

The shift to a biomimicry approach to design impacts “just about every aspect of life,” Benyus said. “We’ve worked on everything from re-creating desks to re-creating cities.”

Just one small example: nature keeps itself clean, not with toxic chemicals like bleach, but through structure – like bumps that force rain water to ball up on leaves to remove dirt. This concept has been integrated into building.

On a cultural level, Benyus noted that nature teaches us that “collaboration is a survival mechanism … organisms evolve out of competition as quickly as possible because it is bad for all parties.”

“Everybody is a designer of your life,” she told the SoS audience. “If you start to take an action that nature would never support – look for alternatives that mimic nature. You don’t have to be a biologist to know best practices in nature.”

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