Natural vs Man Made Resources: Difference, & Examples

In the guide below, we compare natural resources vs man made resources.

We explain the difference between them, and also give some common examples of each.


What Are Natural Resources?

Natural resources generally come directly from the environment/nature, and are formed by natural processes, without manufacture or modification from humans.


What Are Man Made Resources?

Man made resources are manufactured by humans, usually using raw materials, chemical reactions, and man made processes.

The process used, and the raw materials used, depends on the man made resource being manufactured or produced.


What’s The Difference Between Natural Resources & Man Made Resources?

The key differences between natural resources and made made resources is the involvement of both nature and humans in their formation, and also the processes that form them.


– Involvement Of Nature & Humans In Their Formation

The formation of natural resources happens in nature without the involvement of humans.

Man made resources on the other hand are formed only with the involvement of humans. 


– The Processes That Form Them

Natural resources form from natural processes, without modification from humans.

A few examples of this are how fossil fuels are formed over millions of years underground, or how diamonds are formed from natural processes over billions of years, or how ore deposits form from minerals in nature.

Man made resources on the other hand are made from raw materials via man made processes.

One example of this is how plastic polymers are formed via polymerization, using fossil fuel feedstock, and manufacturing the final plastic product to include additives, and other ingredients.


Examples Of Natural Resources

We put together a separate guide we list some of the different categories of natural resources, and also give examples of natural resources under each category.

As a summary, some of the categories and examples of natural resources we listed were:

– Water 

Fresh water, and saltwater.


– Minerals & Ores

Such as metals ores


– Fossil Fuels

Coal, oil, and natural gas


– Renewable Natural Energy Resources

Sunlight, wind, water, and geothermal (heat) energy


– Wood

From trees


– Grasses & Plants

Bamboo as a grass, and cotton as a plant


– Soil

Topsoil for example that is used for growing crops and agricultural production


Examples Of Man Made Resources

Some examples of man made resources include, but aren’t limited to:


– Plastic

Plastic is generally made from a fossil fuel feedstock of oil, or natural gas.

Having said that, bioplastics and newer generation plastics have hit the market in more recent years.

Plastic is one of the most commonly used materials across society, and has a number of applications.

Plastic production is also only forecast to increase in the future according to numerous reports.


– Refined Metals

Some of the most common refined metals include metals like steel, and aluminum.

Steel is an alloy, with iron ore being a key component to make pig iron, which in turn is a key raw material of steel

Most aluminum comes from the natural resource bauxite ore (although some aluminum can be made from clay).


– Paper

Paper is made from cellulose, which comes from wood from trees which is turned into woodpulp.

Recycled paper is one example of another form of paper.


– Refined Oils & Fuels

The most common example of a refined fuel is gasoline used in everyday road vehicles like cars.

Crude oil is extracted from oil mining operations, and then oil refineries turn crude oil into a range of petroleum products.


– Polyester

Polyester is one of the most common fabrics used for textiles

It’s mainly derived from petroleum, and is made from a chemical reaction involving petroleum, air and water


– Other Man Made Resources

There’s thousands of other man made resources manufactured and used across society.




1. Various ‘Better Meets Reality’ guides



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