I often think how much different and probably better civilization would be if we had devoted the last 40 years to researching and implementing biological rather than chemical, mechanical, and fossil-fueled solutions to “progress.” I still think there is hope to turn this around and develop more sustainable technologies.
Here is one example of growing rather than forging materials, in this case, cork, grown by trees, as a better substitute fo polyurethane foam, currently used for crash padding in cars:
The researchers conclude that while aluminium foam marginally performs better than micro-agglommerated cork, cork could be a much better choice for future vehicle design as it is less costly and much easier to process than metal foam.
Inderscience. “Safer, Greener Cars: Cork May Be Better Than Polymer Foam, Study Suggests.” ScienceDaily 17 March 2010.