This is a book about material resources, why we use them, why we throw them away and how long we might expect to be able to keep on doing this. The way that we use these resources seems to be based upon the premise that they are plentiful, or even inexhaustible, and the way that we seem happy to discard them when they cease to please us relies upon the assumption that, in so doing, we do no lasting harm to the ecological functioning of the planet that supports us. The explosive growth in the production and consumption of materials that has occurred as a result of the Industrial Revolution is inextricably linked to economic growth. It is undeniable that these developments have led to significant advances in the material well-being of many people on the planet, but can we continue with this wasteful behaviour forever, or for fifty, or perhaps only ten more years?