Levi's takes a tip from bees—how can your business learn from nature?

Levi's takes a tip from bees—how can your business learn from nature?

Can examining 3.8 billion years of natural process developments bring new efficiencies to your business? Just ask Levi's.

A recent article from GOOD examines how jeans maker Levi's has learned a lesson in supply chain management from an unlikely source: bees.

With help from the Biomimicry Group—a Montana-based consultancy that teaches companies sustainable design through examples in nature—Levi's took a lesson from the bees' process of cross-linking natural resin, and can now apply that knowledge into making more durable fibers.

Biomimicry has also been applied to such diverse sectors as manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, energy, construction and business, all by aping the innate designs or habits of spiders, geckos, mollusks, peacocks, leaves and mushrooms.

According to Paul Dillinger, senior director of global design at Levi's, the bees also taught the company a natural blueprint for supply chain management and logistics. To quote the GOOD article:

Mother Nature is also providing inspiration for the company's design processes more generally. "One key area we examined was systems solutions," Dillinger says. "Natural ecology is a closed system where all materials are used and recycled. An industrial ecology uses an open system where many materials are wasted. Using nature as our inspiration, we are actively finding more ways to model nature’s closed system in our designs."

Your business takeaway

So what are the sustainable, nature-based business applications for the natural products industry?

Curiously, the Biomimicry Group's client list is heavy with mega-corporations typically considered far afield from the sustainability conversation—Nike, Procter & Gamble, Boeing, Shell, Kraft. One would think, though, that nature-based consultancies and natural products would be a—well—natural fit. (Seventh Generation is on the list.)

How then are health & wellness companies learning from nature? Are they?

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