Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

This article in Scientific American calls for high-tech companies to emulate systems found in nature. Written by Yale University professor, Oswald Schmitz, it addresses the flawed manufacturing and consumerism system of advanced technology. For example, the extraction of various raw materials used to produce smartphones is damaging the environment. While this is no secret, Schmitz shines a light on a potential solution based on nature’s grand circular economy. Because nature inherently thrives on connections, materials “are produced, consumed and decomposed, and then reused”. With recycling and redistribution at its core, this circular system sustains the environment while maintaining high productivity. Our high-tech economy, on the other hand, is linear, in which raw materials are extracted, transformed into goods, sold, and then eventually discarded. Schmitz proposes that manufacturers engineer products that are deliberately designed to be recycled after use. He concludes this fascinating article by arguing that a high-tech circular economy would be “the ultimate marvel of human ingenuity”.

To learn more about his work, check out his new book, The New Ecology: Rethinking a Science for the Anthropocene, or visit his research website.

Person taking a picture of a leaf using a smartphone.

Image via StockSnap with Creative Commons CC0 license


Schmitz, O. (2017, January 20). Sustaining a High-Tech Economy Using Inspiration from Nature. Scientific American. Retrieved from

CRC Comments