Mother Earth Living

The Good Life

All things Mother Earth Living

Add to My MSN

Flexing the Biomimicry Muscle

5/10/2005 12:00:00 AM

Tags: biomimcry

This week a friend sent me a link to an article in The Oregonian that rocked my world. “OSU’s new wood glue has muscle inspired by mussels” tells of Oregon State University professor Kaichang Li’s invention, an soy-based adhesive that can be used as a safe replacement for formaldehyde-based glues in plywood and particleboard.

For years, we natural-building types have been warning people about the evils of formaldehyde—a known carcinogen that outgases into the home and can cause a host of nasty health problems. Yet green builders and forestry types also know that wood products such as particleboard—which utilize smaller (read, not old growth) trees and wood scraps—can go a long way toward preserving our forests. Often we’ve been forced to choose between saving the trees or protecting our own health. As the particleboard debate has raged (even within the pages of Natural Home & Garden), I just kept thinking, “There’s got to be a better way.” And now there is—or soon will be.

Columbia Forest Products will stop using formaldehyde and start using the soy-based adhesives in its plywood panels within a year. Brad Thompson of Columbia Forest Products says this is the first cost-competitive formaldehyde-free adhesive to hit the market. Revolution is afoot.

But maybe just as cool is the process through which Professor Li discovered and then created this stuff—an awesome example of Janine Benyus’s biomimicry concept. Li took inspiration from mussels, which use a network of tough silken threads made out of a special protein to secure themselves to rocks and wood pilings—even in the face of massive waves. One day while eating tofu, he realized the ubiquitous soybean contain lots of protein, just like those threads. He put two and two together, and volià! It’s just another great example of how—with a little help from Mother Nature—we can easily create safe, cheap, and healthy ways to live better lives.

Related Content

Groupon for Greenies: A Site to Save You Money

Green America offers savvy shoppers daily discounts—and reassurance that they're buying green—throug...

Survey: Green Homes are Still Too Expensive

Americans continue to believe that green homes make a difference--but they need to be more affordabl...

Treat Your Sweetie to a Massage with Homemade Herbal Muscle Rub

The sweet smell and healing properties of bay, eucalyptus and ginger will make your sweetheart's Val...

2011 Trends: Bamboo, Biomimicry, Green Luxury Cars, Stricter Standards

JWTIntelligence predicts big green changes in the coming year (including tube-free toilet paper).

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.