Kira hunt is a landscape technologist working in Canada and specializing in park design, structural detailing, and heritage interpretation. Now, she works on biomimicry and learning strategies from nature that can improve our cities and bring us closer to the natural world.
WHAT IS BIOMIMICRY?
Biomimicry means to imitate life, i.e., design inspired by nature. This is a kind of approach that can be used in various forms of fields such as anthropology, architecture, etc.
The creation of Velcro
- Velcro was inspired by the burrs of the Burdock plant. In 1941 a Swiss engineer named George de Mestral was hunting in the Jura mountains in Switzerland when he noticed small burrs from what was later identified as the Burdock plant stuck to his pant legs and covering his dog’s fur. Hence the hooks of the burr were replicated into the Velcro and hence a reusable fastener was created.
- But this isn’t considered a biomimicry success as Velcro is harmful to nature because of its plastic content, so it could be better as it harms the environment. She calls it a shallow example of biomimicry.
The principle of circularity
Most Biomimicry practitioners follow life’s principle of circularity. They compound the resources and energy of nature. It is believed that energy is never exactly used up by a single product, only stored for a period of time. So recycling products can help the division of that energy and eventually lead it back to its source.
Similarly, if we protect the earth, care for the living systems, and green the society, the favor would be returned. We would get fresh and clean air, water, diverse food, and healthy places for people to live in. If we harm nature, by the principle of circularity we are harming ourselves. n life do to keep the earth life-sustainable?
To prevent this, what should humans do?
Mass manufacturing of short-termed usage products causes an increase in landfills. The circular economy works on this sector of designing products that have minimal to no wastage or pollution. Reusing the products will lead to healthy natural systems.
A good design always follows THE THREE Rs:
- Reduce: Reduce purchasing and creating products that contain chemicals and particles that are harmful to the environment.
- Reuse: try to reuse a product in multiple ways. Reusing natural resources leads to lesser consumption and a more sustainable way of living.
Recycle. Recycle a product to continue with existing materials.
How does life support life on earth?
The chemicals and combinations used by nature are friendly. The simplest elements are used the most. The human industry uses double the number of elements that are more toxic. Nature’s elements are biodegradable.
For example, the manufacturing industry uses plastic, foil, and paper and glues them together because of their different contributions for a cup. Individually, these components can be recycled, but when bonded together, they are impossible to be recycled. Whereas, a crab shell- retains moisture, is sturdy, and protects the crab. The only difference between the two products is that the crab shell is biodegradable and a single unit.
Do we really need to import products and resources from the other side of the world when we could make do with recycling waste materials itself?
We are at a unique point in time where we have the tools necessary to find the strategy of nature and to emulate the structures of the living world. Finding new materials to use would be a big sustainability win.
- Using products that can be made using biomass. This can help support regenerative and circulative economies. Using biomass for 3d printing can help us focus on different regions that can have their own niches. Coastal cities can take advantage of seafood waste, etc.
Kira Hunt advises engineers and designers to look for organisms that are solving problems that they want to solve and learn from them. We can bring in new ideas and reimagine the human activity with the living system that supports us!