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Hierarchy: a system in which people or things are arranged according to their importance


What are some examples of how people try to fulfill each of these needs?

Human needs assignment


The industrial revolution


Types of production

Mass production


  • exponetial growth (supply and demad) /make more money quicker
  • more product faster
  • creates jobs directly and indirectly
  • The cost per item is cheaper
  • Time to create product


  •  risk (job loss, product doesn’t sell, recalls)
  • responsibility
  • quality control
  • more room for error



  •  better quality control
  • happier/loyal customers
  • self fulfilling
  • artistic
  • your own boss



  •  put more work into
  • Fewer products
  • Time consuming
  • more work
  • more expensive
  • Risk


Universal systems model

The Universal Systems Model is a model that is used to evaluate systems. All technological systems can be described with the Universal Systems Model, and the five elements that define this model are: Goals, Inputs, Processes, Outputs, and Feedback.

The goal is what you want to accomplish.

The input of a mechanical system is the place where the power is entered into the system. It is the very beginning of a process or chain of events that performs work.

The process is the action taking place. It is the output of the program or command.

Output is the point where the power comes out of a system. It is the point where the work actually gets done. Output is the finished product of a mechanical system.

Feedback is the return of information to the information giver about the result of a process or activity. Information is heard, seen, or felt by you — your brain processes what you experienced. After you have created an opinion or idea about what you experienced, you share this with someone else. The sharing of the information is called feedback

Example: I want a moon buggy (goal). I need money, engineers, and material (input). I need to create the buggy in a factory that makes them (process). My moon buggy is complete (output). I thought my engineers were slow (feedback).

Hand made vs mass production Assignment




On a large sheet of paper, draw the “materials flow diagram”—the five drawings from The Story of Stuff that represent extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal in that order.  First, where do you see yourself along this line? You may identify with communities at more than one place along the materials economy. Perhaps one where you work, one where you live, one where your grandparents live.


Find the places you occupy along the flow, find the points of entry available to you.  Where can you get involved, organize, apply pressure, participate to make a difference? There are literally thousands of ways that each of us can get involved and we each need to find the ways that feel right to us. Fortunately, there are many organizations working all along the materials flow cycle which can help you plug in. And when we work together, linking across points on the materials flow, real change can happen.


Pick an issue of particular interest to you or that has particular impact on your community. Is it dumping electronic waste in Asia or toxics in children’s toys or cutting down trees for junk mail? Whatever it is, write the issue you want to address, and your name, next to that point of entry on the drawing. Come up with some ideas on how you can make a difference and write them on your diagram.


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