At the 2023 Bioneers Conference, Beyond Benign Co-Founder John Warner discussed the materials metabolism.
For materials from nature to become human-designed products, they have to undergo multiple transformations in processes of assembly and disassembly. Atoms combine to make molecules; molecules combine to make materials; and we humans assemble and disassemble nature’s products to form molecules and materials that we then recombine to create our artifacts and products, but, unfortunately, most of what we produce is fundamentally unsustainable and dangerously incompatible with living systems. However, one of the founding progenitors of the entire field of “green chemistry,” John Warner explains that by using the principles and practices of the discipline he helped birth, we can embrace and emulate nature’s “materials metabolism” to create the products we need without endangering the web of life. By reimagining how we design and build, we can create a new materials economy that is truly in harmony with nature.