Ep 5: Design Secrets From Nature

Jamie Miller, Founder of Biomimicry Frontiers talks Design Secrets From Nature

There might be a different way of doing things. That’s all that biomimicry really is. It’s just recognizing that what we do may not be sustainable, and there’s a whole textbook of ideas that have been evolving for billions of years.

If there was a wise, practical, and sustainable entity out there that could provide smart and inspiring solutions to our complex lives in the build world, what or who would it be?

Nature has essentially been practicing design throughout billions of years, with millions of “design projects” under its belt. We as a human species have only begun to recognize nature’s brilliance in recent years. In this podcast, Jamie shares what he knows about nature-inspired innovation, biomimicry, and how it could help us create resilient and more sustainable environments in a city.

Jamie Miller is an award-winning designer and founder of Biomimicry Frontiers. He has been trained by Janine Benyus (the author of “Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature”) and has been building biomimicry in Ontario through his consulting, lectures, and workshops since 2007. Jamie taught Canada’s only biomimicry program at OCAD University, during which he earned a PhD degree in engineering that focused on applying systems-level biomimicry to urban infrastructure resilience. His mission is to draw on biomimicry, biophilia, and ecological engineering to “make it better, naturally.”

For a transcribed version of this interview, click here.


How to be future forward and sustainable

Strangely enough, I believe one of the most future-forward things we can do as human beings is to buy less stuff.

What does that mean?

For one, being future-forward or future ready means we have to have a future in the first place. There’s no future if we don’t take care of the very home we live in.

On the other hand, one could argue that consuming less would decrease the speed of innovation and technological evolution—the very thing that would allow us to live more sustainable lives.

As consumers, we’re not so worried about the R&D of a certain project or idea as much as what we get out of it. And, if there is no immediate reward or impact, we’re less excited to get up and ready to root for it.

As you can see, there is a balance that we need to strike here and it’s between technological evolution and ourselves.

The truth is that we all spend money on things that we don’t need to be spending on (i.e. a $6 croissant, $30 dresses, sugared cereal, another pair of shoes, souvenirs, knick-knacks, party decorations, 3 winter coats). I’m not here to say that buying those things are wrong, as there is no right or wrong in living, but I’m here to say that most things people buy don’t provide happiness in the long term.

If we knew which things give us true joy and fulfillment, we would be much happier people. The good news about knowing which items give you happiness is that it often ends up being not a lot of stuff.

The average American owns 300,000 things on average. Is it possible to love and cherish all 300,000 things in your home? Sure. Is it likely? No.

My point here is that we’ve clearly accumulated too many things that we actually don’t want. We’re spending all our dollars on things that don’t bring us value, and it’s holding us back from a better future.

Back to the question, how can consuming less be one of the most future-forward things we can do?

My answer is simple: we have to be more mindful of the things we buy, and buy less stuff.

Investing in more automated technologies means we free up our most valuable resource (time) to do things that bring us value.

Buying fewer disposable goods means we also support less of the cheap, unethical supply chains out there.

Buying more AI-informed solutions means less market failure and waste.

Buying less stuff means less trash we eventually have to throw away.

Again, there’s a balance here between technological advancement and ourselves that we would benefit from being aware of, but this is my take on a sustainable future.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this too. Feel free to drop a comment. I’ll be reading!

It’s a good time to show your thanks

To my inspirations: Thank you for all the work that you do. 

To my friends: Thank you for always sharing a good laugh with me. 

To my family: Thank you for your relentless support in my upbringing and my growth.

To my teammates: Thank you for the amazing collaboration and hours we’ve relentlessly worked through. 

Being human comes with a ton of people to be thankful for. 

Thank them when you can.

Ep 4: Healthier food for all

Matthew You from Agri-Neo sharing insights on food safety

In an era of overly processed foods and an ever growing world population, how can we find a better way of making food safe for consumers to eat while keeping the food’s nutritional integrity? 

This episode I speak with Matthew You from Agri-Neo, a food safety tech company right here at home in Toronto. In this short episode, we discuss food safety specifically through a food processing lens in low-moisture foods. 

Matthew You is the Sr. Marketing manager at Agri-Neo, where a team of scientists, microbiologists, food scientists, and engineers work to create tech solutions for food safety. 

Listen to the podcast above to hear Matthew’s take on how Agri-Neo is helping our world in feeding the world safely!

Creating the ocean

Cities are capable of doing extraordinary things.

For instance, they’re capable of gathering thousands of inspired people together to generate change. If our climate strike in Toronto didn’t show that change starts with people, that we are not alone, and that we can create enormous impact together (like marching 10,000 people to make some noise), then you aren’t seeing the ocean right before your eyes. 

It’s our turn to keep the tide turning by making it our own priority to live cleaner, better lives. 

Ep 3: A life with less waste

Ep 3: A life with less waste with Magali Lafleur

In this special episode, Toronto-based Art Director and Zero Waster Magali Lafleur shares a bit of everything from urban frustrations, feminine hygiene, zero waste confessions, to tips on leading a cleaner lifestyle in a congested planet. If you’ve ever considered living your life with less trash, give this a listen! 

About Magali: Two years ago, Magali started her journey to reduce trash in her lifestyle and learned how to be more environmentally wise by a simple Google search. It was a lifestyle change that she became increasingly more passionate about. You can read about her lifestyle of living zero waste on her Instagram blog @findyouralternative

3 Easy steps we’ve picked for living cleaner lifestyles from this episode are:

  1. bring your own container when purchasing meals
  2. get to know your lifestyle and decision-making process so you can anticipate what you’ll need in your day
  3. invest in quality products so you won’t have to buy as much in the long run! 

Questions and comments are welcome at hellodoublecow@gmail.com—see ya on the next one!

Empathy for our parks

A note reflecting on last week’s trash cleanup at Trinity Bellwoods:

Small pieces of litter (cigarette butts, bottle caps, broken glass) in big parks might feel like nothing to the everyday person, but we often forget that there are many smaller living things that use these park spaces too.

A dog or squirrel would feel much more affected by our park litter than us, simply because they are smaller and have a closer relationship to the ground.

Let’s be more empathetic to our smaller friends, and keep our parks healthy!