The wind the tides, geothermal heat (from the disintegration of the radioactive atoms in the Earth’s core) and the sun are just some of the Earth’s amazing natural resources that we can use to power our lives – but the Earth doesn’t just provide us with fuel for electricity and heat – there’s a myriad of other resources on offer all around us.
What are Natural Resources?
- Air, water and soil
- Biological resources – plants and animals
- Raw materials (like minerals)
- Space and land
- Wind, geothermal, tidal and solar energy
Natural resources are often classified into renewable, flow, and non-renewable resources.
What are Renewable Sources?
Renewable resources are usually living and therefore can renew themselves assuming they are not killed off or over harvested. Good examples of renewable sources are trees (forests and woodlands) crops, and livestock like fish. Water and soil are also renewable sources, but they are classed as non-living.
What are Flow Resources?
The tides, solar power and the wind can be classed as flow renewable resources. They are all renewable but they do not need regeneration or re-growth.
What are Non-Renewable Resources?
Non-renewable resources are those which cannot be replaced once they are used up or harvested. This includes fossil-fuels, coal and petroleum.
How Can We Use the Earth’s Natural Resources at Home?
There are many ways we can help to protect the environment by using the Earth’s natural resources in our homes – and even better, many of them can be turned into fun, educational and interesting activities for the whole family!
Why Not Try:
Drying your washing outside on a washing line or a clothes rack instead of using a tumble dryer
Growing your own fruit and vegetables or buying locally produced food (to cut down on pollution caused by transporting goods from areas)
Fitting solar panels to your home to provide solar water heating or solar electricity.
Using water butts in your garden – a great way of saving and re-using water. By installing a butt to collect rain water (which you can then use for watering your plants and lawn) it is estimated you can save up to 5,000 litres of water a year!
Use a Composter
Composting is often referred to as nature’s way of recycling – and it is a great way of protecting ‘the earth’ literally! By weight, it is estimated that kitchen and garden waste makes up about 30% of a household’s rubbish. By collecting all your garden waste, vegetable and fruit peelings, egg shells and used tea bags and coffee granules you can improve the quality of your soil and provide a rich and nutrient environment for growing vegetables and encouraging wildlife in your garden.
Friends of the Earth estimate that 17 billion plastic bags are given away by supermarkets every year – the equivalent to over 290 bags for every person in the UK! These bags are generally used once and then thrown away, ultimately polluting the environment. According to the Environment Agency, if everyone in the UK stopped using plastic bags we’d would save enough plastic to tie around the earth 103 times! Cotton is a natural resource. Using an organic cotton bag from a sustainable cotton plant will go a long way in avoiding waste, pollution and environmental damage.
Resources for Children:
- Science Museum comprehensive information on saving the planet and utilising the earth’s resources.
- Friends of the Earth resources and information about protecting the environment.
The natural resources of the Earth can provide us with everything we need to live a sustainable, environmentally and eco friendly existence – it’s up to us to educate ourselves about them and utilise them.