University of Illinois Extension
Environmental Awareness: Knowing Your World

Natural Resources - Can We Use Them Forever

People use many of the Earth's natural resources. All of the products we use have a natural resource base. Minerals, forest products, water, and soil are just a few of the natural resources humans use to produce energy and make things people use.

Some natural resources can be reproduced within a few years or decades. These are called renewable resources. Trees are an example of a renewable resource. Oil, minerals, and soil take hundreds, thousands and even millions of years to be made. These are called non-renewable resources.

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It is very important we use renewable and non-renewable resources wisely. If a resource is used and thrown away, eventually the resource becomes scarce. When the supply dwindles, its price will increase. Products that are made from that resource would increase in price too.

Sometimes resources become so rare they can no longer be used. In these cases, substitute resources may be used, which may make a poorer quality product, or one that is more expensive. If substitutes can not be used, some products could no longer be made.

Wise use of resources includes not throwing away products that are reuseable or recyclable. When these products are reused or recycled, it maintains resource availability, uses less landfill space, and uses less energy.


En Español

Water Rich Water Poor Natural Resources - Can We Use Them Forever? Energy and Ecosystems - Use Some, Lose Some Acid Precipitation - Are Things Getting Better? Global Warming Nature's Response

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