How we make stuff

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Can we do things differently

Could we design mobile phones so they can have new functions added or be taken apart easily to be repaired or made into new phones? This would save lots of precious materials from going to waste!

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From lines to loops

Thinking in loops and turning waste into useful materials.

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Pop goes the mobile

Could we design mobile phones to be taken apart quickly?

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Smart technology

One object that can do lots of different things.

Awesome Facts

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  • There are over 5 billion mobile phones currently in use around the world.
  • In richer countries, people change their phones on average every 18 months
  • Mobile phones are made of more than 300 different parts, using lots of different materials.
  • About 90% of the waste we produce in making mobile phones is created when we extract raw materials from the earth.
  • Mobile phones contain metals such as cadmium, lead and nickel, which can pollute soil and water if buried in landfill sites.
  • There is enough gold in 200 mobile phones to make a gold ring.
  • In 2008, a company created a laptop computer that is sold inside a padded laptop bag. No need for extra 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