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K12 LibreTexts

21.1: Materials Humans Use

  • Page ID
    6101
  • What resources are in those electronics?

    When you pick up your personal electronics device or your mobile phone do you ever think about what's in it? A tremendous variety of elements are needed to make a single electronic device. Some are rare, some are common. All must somehow come from Earth or its environment.

    Natural Resources

    A natural resource is anything in nature that humans need. Metals and fossil fuels are natural resources. So are water, sunlight, soil, and wind. Even living things are natural resources.

    Using Natural Resources

    We need natural resources for just about everything we do. We need them for food and clothing, for building materials, and energy. We even need them to have fun. Listed below are examples of how we use natural resources (Table below). Can you think of other ways we use natural resources?

    Use Resources Example

    Vehicles

    alt

    Rubber for tires from rubber trees

    Steel frames and other metal parts from minerals such as iron

    Iron ore

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    Electronics

    alt

    Plastic cases from petroleum products

    Glass screens from minerals such as lead

    Lead ore

    alt

    Homes

    alt

    Nails from minerals such as iron

    Timber from trees

    Spruce timber

    alt

    Jewelry

    alt

    Gemstones such as diamonds

    Minerals such as silver

    Silver ore

    alt

    Food

    alt

    Sunlight, water, and soil

    Minerals such as phosphorus

    Corn seeds in soil

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    Clothing

    alt

    Wool from sheep

    Cotton from cotton plants

    Cotton plants

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    Recreation

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    Water for boating and swimming

    Forests for hiking and camping

    Pine forest

    alt

    Some natural resources are renewable. Others are non-renewable. It depends on what they are and how we use them.

    Summary

    • Many objects, such as a car, contain many types of resources.
    • Resources may be renewable or non-renewable, and an object may contain some of each.
    • Rare earth elements and other unusual materials are used in some electronic devices.

    Review

    1. What are natural resources?
    2. Is clean air a natural resource? Why or why not?
    3. What natural resources are important to you?
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