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Product, Service & Design Innovation
‘The Best Ideas Might Not Be Ours’:
DiCaprio Produces Film on Biomimicry

As more and more organizations with sustainability missions are discovering, getting a celebrity to help spread your message could be the difference between creating a tiny ripple and engaging millions around the world (see recent examples around deforestation, the Sustainable Development Goals, clean drinking water, and eating more produce, to name a few).

Now the remarkably simple and often overlooked idea of innovation inspired by nature – biomimicry – could see a surge in interest thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio, who has become something of an environmental activist in recent years. The actor has produced a short film called Biomimicry, released last week by Tree Media Group and narrated by Biomimicry Institute founder Janine Benyus, which presents examples of biomimetic design and innovations from around the world.

Benyus suggests we look to nature for the best ideas, saying humans may not have the best answers to questions about how to build sustainable systems that allow life to thrive. Many other species “take care of the place that’s going to take care of their offspring” (their habitats) to ensure the survival of many generations of their offspring, and they do so using current energy – not energy stored in 100-year-old fossil fuel reserves.

The main lessons from nature that Benyus highlights in the film are:

  • Life depends on the local;
  • Life banks on diversity (and rewards cooperation);
  • Life upcycles everything (and wastes nothing); and
  • Life uses safe elements.

She then provides examples of nature-inspired innovations based on material structure, self-assembling materials, carbon and methane capture, energy generation, fog catching (for water from humidity in the air), desalination, forward osmosis, mycelial networks, structural color, and more.

The film was executive produced by Oliver Stanton, was directed by Tree Media founder Leila Conners, and produced by Mathew Schmid and Bryony Schwan. DiCaprio has worked with Tree Media on several films, including Global Warning; Water Planet; Green World Rising, a series he narrated; and Connors’ first feature-length documentary, The 11th Hour.

Biomimicry is available on YouTube. Watch it here:


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