Wednesday, July 19, 2017

July iSite: Deciduous trees and the disposable economy

(cross-posted via facebook, by Rachel Hahs)

After having a discussion with my daughter yesterday about why trees have green and then red or yellow leaves, I couldn't help but think about the process of deciduous trees dropping leaves and growing new ones in the spring. I've also been thinking about the circular economy, and the fact that in nature, cheap abundant materials are actually disposable and cycled within an ecosystem. 

The deciduous tree is a great example of how a "manufacturing process" can use "expensive" materials, like chlorophyll, without disposing of them, while keeping "cheap" materials in a tight loop that feed the tree to grow again in the next growing season. This also feeds an economy of processors that are enriched and in turn enrich the tree in a cycle of sustained growth. 

We can so aspire to do the same! 

Monday, July 10, 2017

July iSite Challenge: Finding Nature's Processes

July iSite: Finding Nature's Processes
Time: 20-30 minutes
Materials: Clear mind, writing utensil and paper

In biomimicry when we talk about process, we are talking about how something is made - the "manufacturing" processes including chemistry and assembly. Human manufacturing processes often use "heat, beat and treat" - we achieve structure through energy intensive processes at high temperatures with toxic chemistry. In nature, manufacturing processes rely on low temperatures, abundant readily available life-friendly materials, and self-assembly.

For example, photosynthesis is a chemical reaction that converts radiant energy from the sun into chemical energy (sugars) using the abundant materials of carbon dioxide, water and sunlight. Another example is spider silk - a super strong material with a complex structure made with life-friendly green chemistry (aka, digested insects) in the gut of a spider!

As you did for the June iSite, find a comfortable sit spot where you feel close to nature. Observe the world around you for at least 5 minutes before moving onto the exercise.

Sketch, write, photograph or video the processes you observe around you.
  • What "manufactured" materials do you observe around you?
  • What is the general "manufacturing process"?
  • What are the "raw materials" that go into them?
  • What is the function being performed ?
  • What do you want to learn more about?
Share your July iSite with us via social media or email!