An organism is classified as a living thing that carries specific characteristics such as reproduction, energy use and the ability to grow. As long as an organism carries these types of properties, it can be considered living. This includes things such as bacteria, animals, plants and humans. Non-living organisms do not live or function within their environment at all. Therefore, understanding what characteristics a living organism has will help compare living and non-living organisms.
Nutrition Consumption or Production
A living organism has the ability to use nutrition for production of energy and growth. This can include nutrients such as carbohydrates, protein and minerals. Plants, for example, gather their nutrients from minerals in the soil that are absorbed through the roots. Plants also have the capability of using the process of photosynthesis, which is the process of converting the energy of the sun into sugars to provide energy to the plant itself. Human, on the other hand, gain nutrition from the physical food they consume. Non-living organisms do not require nutrition in order to survive, and they do not consume any form of nutrition.
Movement and Growth
A living organism will move, while a non-living organism will not. Every living organism moves, even if it is very slight. It can be difficult to see, but plants will move in a very slight manner throughout the day, even if you cannot see it without the use of a microscope. Living things also have the capability of growing, while non-living things do not grow. The nutrition and energy living organisms receive from food provide it with the ability to grow, such as a plant growing larger over time or a child turning into an adult.
All living organisms must reproduce in some way in order to be considered living, whereas a non-living organism does not reproduce in anyway. Living organisms have the ability to produce a form of offspring by reproducing cells that carry the organisms DNA. Plants, for example, are able to reproduce by sprouting new leaves, flowers or stems. Bacteria is another example of a living organism that reproduces on a cellular level, but each cell contains DNA from the original organism.
Response and Adaptation
A living organism has the ability to respond and adapt to the environment. Non-living organisms do not respond or adapt. A response to an environment can be a plant that is not receiving enough sunlight; therefore, it will begin to grow its leaves or new buds toward the sunlight in order for the plant to survive. Adaptation can be showcased by how plants that are typically grown in tropical environments learn to adapt their properties and needs in order to survive in different climates.