Nature* feeds us, purifies the air we breathe and the water we drink. Unbeatable booster, it cures stress, sadness, reenergizes humans. It’s all around us but most of us fail to appreciate it or even notice it, which is a bit like turning the back on our own selves. No, we’re not going into a philosophical discussion about nature, and how our own beings are (part of) nature. We’re just trying to remind you of the importance of looking at nature – an incredible source of endless inspiration on top of everything else.
Look again, or maybe for the first time, with the curiosity of a child. Sure, the occasional romantic strolls help too, but don’t forget to study, explore, examine, through a magnifying glass if needed. Be amazed by the universe at our fingertips.
“Glance at the sun.
See the moon and the stars.
Gaze at the beauty of earth’s greenings.
~ Hildegard von Bingen
Nature as a Blueprint for Sustainability
Did you know that the ubiquitous Velcro was inspired by the way plant burrs stick to dog hair? Yep, almost 80 years ago, the Swiss engineer George de Mestral started his velcro adventure simply by looking at the burrs under a microscope. Did you know that solar cells mimic butterfly wings? Made up of tiny scales, the wings are surprisingly good at harvesting light. Did you hear that the veins in the tree leaves can inspire robust and resilient building distribution networks?
From ant nest to architecture, from caterpillar’s roll to medical instruments, this “approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature's time-tested patterns and strategies” is called biomimicry. Small wonder that an organization focused on sustainability like the David Suzuki Foundation came up with this spot-on slogan: “Solutions are in our nature”.
Clean 360° Designs
We can agree that biomimicry has worked miracles in many areas, and it’s now an essential part of the renewable energy landscape. In the exploratory trip humanity is currently undergoing, clean(er) solutions to an insatiable need for energy is the goal. Simplicity is at the heart of it, as a way to tackle this complex energy crisis.
How to better improve your relation with nature if not by trying to imitate its non-invasive, sustainable ways? And why wouldn’t we want renewable, old as the world, (almost) free (still, in most corners of this world), clean, or producing significantly lower carbon emissions (compared to so-called conventional energy sources)?
Below we’ll have a look at wind and solar, two of the most popular and innovative alternative sources of energy and their new interest in going full circle, cradle to cradle.
We saw this fantastic invention in the streets of Paris, on a cold winter day in December 2015, during the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The first thought what: yes, it makes perfect sense. Why didn’t we think about this before? Maybe we did, but somehow failed to make the connections.
Now this blooming sunflower has made the rounds on social media, and for all the right reasons. Unlike static solar panels, this one follows the sun, just like a sunflower in a field, thus catching the sunlight all day. “Inspired design, intelligent solar”, the smartflower is easy to set up and connect, fully integrated, all-in-one solar system that can live anywhere. Designed to be a plug-and-play system, it does make solar simple(r). It’s also 40% more efficient in energy production than traditional solar and can be easily packed up and moved to a new site. Big plus.
Taking into account the fact that the sun provides more than enough energy in just one hour to supply our planet’s energy needs for an entire year, just imagine the possibilities.
New Wind is a company inventing biomimetic devises that deliver sustainable electrical services. They’ve put together this wind turbine resembling a tree where each leaf is capable of producing electricity from the slightest waft of air within a radius of 360°. It offers immediate consumption in proximity to end-use, while, you’ll have to agree with them, also providing an esthetic and emotional contribution to the urban landscapes (huge part of any fierce debate on wind turbines).
This L’Arbre à Vent is small enough to fit in your backyard, using air flow through wind turbines to mechanically power generators for electric power. On the one hand, you have the force of the wind. On the other hand, the structure of the tree. That’s like a double jackpot. Not only inspired by nature, but running on nature too.
Who knows, treehugger or not, dosing under thick with aromas cherry trees in spring might have produced similar tree-shaped wind turbines.
Here to Stay
The Tesla Solar Roof, the machine that pulverizes glass bottles into sand (back to the initial state!), and dozens of other similar recent inventions prove that looking closer at nature pays off.
Like it or not, change is happening no matter how many science deniers rule the world. It’s the change brought about by curious informed people that casts gleams of hope on our rather precarious present.
If for whatever reason nature is not in your agenda on a daily basis, try to follow specialty classics like National Geographic, or the plethora of online publications brimful of similar stories.
Keep on being captivated and engaged, share the positive changes. Exploring the potential of the world around us is essential in finding solutions for a sustainable high performing innovative future we can be proud we’ve created or at least encouraged.
Frank Lloyd Wright had one the most inspired and inspiring advises ever: “Study nature, love nature, stay closer to nature. It will never fail you”. May the force (of nature) be with you!
* Nature: The phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth.