Variable: Materials

Materials include basic products largely derived from natural resources. Examples include fertilizers (petroleum as a source), dimension lumber (wood), silver and other minerals (ore), plastic (oil), and glass, concrete, cocaine, and denim.

The variety of materials used by human ecosystems varies by culture, stage of economic development, and consumption patterns. Common measures include economic value/unit and the flow of raw product (by ton, pound, ounce, or milligram).

Sustenance and commerce institutions are largely based on production, distribution, and exchange of materials. When flows are altered, norms for use can be impacted (conservation incentives increase with price), and certain materials may be critical for specific institutions such as precious gems for industrial use or coca paste for the illegal drug trade (Morales 1989).

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