How we make stuff

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Can we do things differently

To save tonnes of valuable materials being buried in the ground, do we need to rethink the way we design, make and dispose of our clothes? Could worn out clothes be used to make something else or turned into compost?

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A tshirt with a difference

Follow the journey of a T-shirt from the cotton fields in India to the shop in England.

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Shoes That bloom

Can you imagine trainers that can be turned into soil?

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From comfy seats to cool bags

Making handbags out of aeroplane seats.

Awesome Facts

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  • Denim gets its name from a fabric originally made in the French town of Nîmes (de Nîmes).
  • Jeans were created as hard-wearing trousers for gold miners in California in 1873.
  • Do you know the expression ‘as mad as a hatter’? In the 19th century, hatters used mercury to make beaver hats and this often made them tremble and appear mad.
  • More than 1 million tonnes of clothes and textiles end up in landfill every year.
  • In the UK, people buy four times as many clothes as they did in 1990.
  • About 90% of the clothes bought in the UK were manufactured abroad.
  • Imagine going into a shop and scanning the tag of the jeans you want to buy to find out where, how and by whom they were made. This may well be the future.
  • A new type of leather can be made from the skin of farmed salmon, which is normally thrown away after the fish is processed. Don’t worry, it doesn’t smell of fish!


Download fun and original activities to encourage 7 to 12 year old children to develop their understanding of a 'closed loop' economy and to stimulate discussion and debate.

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Based on the original book ‘How We Make Stuff’ by Christiane Dorion, Templar Publishing, 2012.
Website text by Christiane Dorion - Design by Harriet Pellereau.

© 2012 Ellen MacArthur Foundation - Illustration © Beverley Young - Text © Christiane Dorion