Nature provides cues for inspiration, where many materials and structures have evolved over millions of years to fulfil diverse biological functions. For instance, the sophisticated hierarchical structure of plants and arthropod cuticles is responsible for their outstanding mechanical behaviour. We employ concepts inspired by nature to fabricate novel materials and devices for different sustainable applications, including energy storage and optical sensing. Through this approach, we comply with bioeconomy concepts, increasing the economic value of renewable biological resources such as cellulose and chitin.