How we make stuff

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Can we do things differently

Instead of disposing of our plastic rubbish, could we rethink the way we design, make and reuse plastic products so we don’t have any rubbish?

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Rubber Ducks lost at sea

The story of rubber ducks lost at sea on a stormy night.

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Plastic from oranges?

How we can make plastic from orange peel.

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A paper-free book!

A book printed on plastic

Awesome Facts

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  • The first plastic was created in 1855 by a British scientist, Alexander Parkes. It was made from plants.
  • In 1959, we produced 1.5 million tonnes of plastic worldwide. In 2008, we produced 245 million tonnes.
  • About half of all pakaging is made of plastic, as it is light, reducing transport costs.
  • More than 500 billion plastic shopping bags are used around the world every year. That’s almost a million bags every minute!
  • Plastic can take up to 500 years to decompose. This means that almost all plastic ever made still exists on our planet.
  • In the UK, about 80% of plastic waste ends up in landfill sites and 7% is recycled.
  • Did you know that about 10% of all the plastic we use ends up in the ocean, being washed down rivers, carried by the wind or thrown from ships at sea?
  • Plastics that can biodegrade account for less than 5% of all plastics used for packaging.


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