How we make stuff

  1. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation
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Can we do things differently

Surely making throwaway products out of valuable and durable materials is bad design? Do we need to rethink the way we design, make and reuse our stuff, so it works long-term for us and for the planet?

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Cleaver little Bag

A shoe bag than can be used over and over again

Watch Slideshow

Growing packaging

Packaging material that is food for the soil.

Watch Video

Harmless packaging

A plastic bag that dissolves in water after use, without any pollution.

Awesome Facts

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  • In the UK, packaging fills up over a quarter of our rubbish bins. Could it be reduced?
  • About half of all packaging is made of plastics, a quarter is made of paper or cardboard and the rest is made of glass, metals and mixed materials.
  • More than 500 billion plastic shopping bags are used around the world every year. That’s almost a million bags every minute!
  • Plastic bags are now either restricted or completely banned in many countries.
  • The USA throws away about 25,000,000,000 polystyrene cups each year.
  • Did you know that 15 million plastic bottles are thrown away every day in the UK?
  • It takes about 7 litres of water to produce a one litre plastic bottle.
  • The US airline industry throws away enough aluminium cans every year to build nearly 58 jumbo jets. That’s a lot of cans!
  • Packaging protects the food and products we buy and gives us information. But could we rethink packaging so it can be reused or returned to the earth safely?


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