A Visual Guide To How Earth’s Natural Resources Become Household Goods

There’s a time in every potato’s life when it reaches a crossroads. In one direction, it becomes a french fry or mashed potato. In the other, it goes to a factory, where it’s ground and divided into starch, fiber, and protein (the latter of which can be further broken down into amino acids). From here, the potato becomes a thickener for food, a drying agent for textiles, an ingredient in your cosmetics–maybe even part of your new laminate flooring.

The story of the potato is just one of many you can explore in Biobased Economy, an award-winning, interactive data visualization by Schwandt Infographics. Biobased Economy explores the intricate processes with which mankind has learned to turn the stuff of Earth into the products we covet.

See the interactive graph here

The graphic is series of nodes. In the upper left, you have nodes for each raw material–like wood, corn, or manure. On the bottom right, you have nodes for each of the final products–like electricity, plastics, or agriculture itself. In between, you have the processes and intermediary products that get you there.

You can highlight any node in this entire chain (whether it’s a product or a process) and see how it relates to the greater whole–essentially bringing to light a whole hidden web of relationships at work. You can also click into any node and be taken to a tree that tells a complete industrial narrative like that of our aforementioned potato protagonist.

Try it here.

[h/t: Information Is Beautiful]