by | Speed (↓) | Skill (↑) | 1 comment | 5 questions

Trees, birds, bees. The natural world around us.
Laced with intricate, individual meaning for all.

Where and how is it used?

In all different kinds of ways, in all different kinds of nooks and cranny's around the world.
For enjoyment, for stress relief, for manufacturing, for power, for protection, for destruction.

What did you or someone else pay for it?

Forward paying for generations to come

Why do you want to add it to the museum?

We're loosing 150 acres of rainforest every minute of every day. 3/4 of children in the UK spend less time outside according to 2011 survey than prison inmates. Yes, prison inmates.
It's a fundamental commodity, but a disappearing one. And one which represents and holds a range of emotions and controversies and powers. We've got the power to both destroy and save it.

How was it made?

Is made in a factory

Is farmed

Is mass-produced

Is produced by local cottage industry

Is made to particular specifications

Is craft / hand-made

Is foraged

Is found

Is colonised

Is a service

Materials & Making

Who made or produced your commodity?

Whatever sense of belief is- geography, astronomy, religion, a mix of all.

Who was paid to make it?

No-one (as far as I'm aware!), but people have 'paid for it' since its creation- financially, socially and fatally.

What skills does it take to make it?

Some pretty impressive ones!

Where was it made?

Not answered yet

What does it cost to make it?

Not answered yet

What is it made from?

Buying & Owning

Who decides how much it costs?

The 'owner' of the land- a government, an NGO, a private owner, forced ownership, unwritten owners. In the UK, lots of nature 'land' is costed by the District Valuer Service.

Who or what assesses its quality?

Environmental agencies, businesses, farmers, money

Where is it sold?

On the acquisition market, through HMRC, through trade agreements, on unwritten or 'black' markets.

Who or what sells it?

The owner- either legally or illegally

How did this thing arrive from where it was made to where you got it?

It's been here my whole life. I'm lucky to have seen lots of it, but I've also witnessed its misuse. When it's gone, I predict we will be to.

Where is it used?


Where is it kept?


How and by whom is it cared for?

Not answered yet

How long will it last?

Until it's destroyed- naturally or through man made forces.

Where will it go when it's finished with?

Not answered yet

What is it worth?


How do you and others value this commodity?

See the values contributed by visitors and those of the donor. And add your own values to this commodity.

Total times valued2
Positive (↑)Skill
Negative (↓)Speed
Overall Positive277
Overall Negative-21
Controversy71 (0 = most controversial)

What do these numbers mean?

This data that we have collected over time in our database means nothing without interpretation. A relational database, which we are using here, is technology that enables designers of websites and software to compare, contrast, interrogate and infer relations within data. The act of designing a database is not objective but driven by the agency of its creators and owners.

Within the MoCC Collection data is used to help think through the relations between values, commodities and data. Can we describe our values using sliders and numbers? How do we infer meaning such as controversy from data?

Below is a brief explanation of the some calculations and how these help make decisions about what is shown on the site.

  • Controversy Score:
    (Total Positive Values) + (Total Negative Values)

    The closer the value is to zero the more controversial it is in relation to other commodities. Used to infer that values associated with one commodity divide opinion more than another.

  • Average Value Score (used in the sliders):
    (Total Positive for Value + Total Negative for Value) ÷ Total Times Valued

    Used to infer a collective value associated with a commodity.

How do you value this commodity?

To add your own values click VALUE THIS COMMODITY and move the sliders left and right to add your own values - then click SUBMIT
show donor's original values
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Questions and answers

Help to reveal unknown quantities, properties and uses of this commodity by answering this MoCC curator's questions.

Question: In what ways is nature 'valued'?


Hi I’m Lizzie and I’m your Commodity Consultant for today!

One of the BIG questions that environmentalist struggle with is whether there should be a price on nature. In some ways there IS a rote calculation that can be done to price out environmental health benefits, for example the cost savings that are realised through cleaner air or water.

At the heart of this debate is a philosophical question, how do you put a price on nature? How much is the Amazon River or the Himalayan mountain range worth? One thing is for certain, the value of nature is not being reflected within our current market economy. Even worse, the cost of unsustainable use is not being incorporated into balance sheets and so there is no market incentive to ratchet back the use of natural resources.

The larger question of how to value nature beyond its utilitarian uses remains. Beyond the difficulty of monetizing nature, how do you monetize things like cultural and spiritual resources that have an unquantifiable value? And, if you decide they can’t be monetized, how is it that their value is incorporated into a market based system so that their preservation is seen as a value and their destruction is seen as a cost? (or should they be preserved? What environments do we deem valuable enough to save and why?)

I think answering these questions will require some societal restructuring of the idea of ‘value’ which moves away from a market-based valuation system – although this doesn’t seem that achievable in the near future… a belief that is leading some environmentalists to believe that if we want to preserve nature as valuable we need to work within our market system to ensure that natural resources are recognized, at the very least, for their economic value and worth

Often monetizing nature comes under the name of ‘conservation’, three examples include -

Charging entrance fees to national parks (and national parks themselves!), an individual arriving by foot or bicycle would be charged $15 to enter Yellowstone National Park

The sustainable/ renewable energy industry

and through policy

This idea sits a little uneasily with me. I suppose for me it can’t be the only thing that we do. If we value nature in an ‘irrational’ or ‘more-than-rational’ way e.g. we enjoy it for the sense of peace it gives us, for creative expression, for family times, for quietness, for air, for noise, why respond to this valuation in a rational way e.g. with a monetary value?

I quite like these books ‘Sightlines’ by Kathleen Jamie and Edgelands by Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley, which look at the small ways that we value a more expansive understanding of nature and the role nature plays in our everyday lives. These stories include looking at the role of bacteria in our gut and the uncanny brownland space between cities and the countryside.

I’d also suggest that things are not so hopeless that we should give up on the idea of being able to value nature as more than just a monetary value. Over the last ten years there has been a shift in understandings of health away from just the absence of disease to a more expansive notion of ‘well-being’. This shift has seen a rising body of work surrounding ‘the medical humanities’ and ‘environmental humanities’, which involves science turning to the arts to assess how a more holistic outlook on value can be adopted. One example of this is the use of ‘nature’ in the form of community gardens to help rehabilitate people with alcohol misuse. Social, cultural and personal value of nature is beginning to be recognised.

Maybe we can learn about how to value nature by looking at how different cultures value nature?

A story that always sticks with me is from Japanese mythology, where the Namazu (鯰) or Ōnamazu (大鯰) is a giant catfish who causes earthquakes. He lives in the mud under the islands of Japan, and is guarded by the god Kashima who restrains the catfish with a stone. When Kashima lets his guard fall, Namazu thrashes about, causing violent earthquakes. Perhaps this could teach us to stop trying to control nature and value its unpredictability?

Of course this is my own option and I’m not suggesting you subscribe to it! Perhaps we can use it as a conversation starter in the comments section!? I’d love to know what you think,

Hope this helps!


by LizzieH on August 26th at 4:59pm

Question: Can nature be a commodity in its own sense?


Brilliant question!

This is going to be one that lots of people are going to have lots of opinions on so I’m going to use this post to stem some ideas that we can continue over in the comments section!

The God that is google defines a commodity as ‘a raw material or primary agricultural product that can be bought and sold, such as copper or coffee’
OR ‘a useful or valuable thing’.
This article by The Economist gets into a bit more of the nitty gritty of the idea of a commodity and approaches it from various perspectives, take a look!

Now it really depends on how you sit on that definition of a commodity in how you answer the question, alongside what you believe the value of nature is? Do you consider nature to only have business value, or intrinsic value? Or do you sit somewhere along the long continuum that muddles loads of different perspectives together
Check this article out by the Huffington post if you need something to get your brain clogs whirling Finally, it also depends on how you define nature – check out the other questions on this page if you want to have a little dig around this idea.

Considering all these things, we could end up with a relatively simple yes or no answer, or lead ourselves down some metaphysical path without any breadcrumbs!

I take nature to be ‘everywhere’ and not ‘separate’ and to have intrinsic value beyond it’s market value, and I ended my thought process at ‘can happiness exist or is a state of mind’. If you find yourself down a similar road to me – check out Jean Baudrillard’s concept of ‘the simulacra’ and see what you think

Or alternatively if you’re spinning into some next level existential crisis check out these nature comics (ahhh much better)

So I’d answer with the rather unhelpful phrase ‘what do you think?’
(I’d also recommend you check out the other questions on this page!)


by LizzieH on August 27th at 6:38pm

Question: What does the nature mean to you?


Oooh, this is such a thought-provoking question!

I’m actually a PhD student writing my thesis on ‘nature’ so this is such a wonderful joy to write, thank you! When I think of nature I think of quiet, an absence of ‘business’, and people, a place where I can re-focus on my priorities and what I think is important/ put things into perspective. I’m also aware that this is quite a romantic/ unrealistic depiction of nature! I think my love for the countryside stems from spending up to 12 hours a day looking at a laptop screen and enjoying refocusing my eyes and having little to do!! Why does such a question that seem so easy at first become much less straightforward when you get down to it!! Maybe this describes how I connect to nature, I probably connected a little differently when I was a child, I didn’t really like the outside, too wet and itchy! But I think I’ve always found it a bit of an ‘adventure’ compared to ‘everyday’ life. What even is nature and does it still exist today (if it ever existed at all!!)

I think nature means ‘modern nature’ to me. What I mean is that for me, nature is something that I feel I need to regularly spend time with(in?), but I don’t necessarily think of it as ‘other’, as somewhere separate that I can only visit occasionally – it’s all around me. Having said that – fresh air, the breeze seems to be centre; for me to get my ‘nature fix’

These are big questions with different answers depending on who you ask! For some nature is a very specific concept, for others, it might be more about their back gardens or in books. If you want to explore these ideas further why not take part in Springwatch’s Sharing Nature campaign??? – more information can be found here

Here’s something to think about, what ‘natural scenery’ would you describe as yourself, and why???


by LizzieH on August 27th at 5:50pm

Question: What was the last thing you did 'in nature'?


Brilliant question, this really got me thinking!

I suppose the last time I set out with the active intention to go and explore ‘nature’ was when I went on a dowsing walk between Royston and Bury St. Edmunds, near the Suffolk Cambridge border. Dowsing refers to using a pendulum or rods (although you can practice deviceless dowsing), to find hidden water, metals, ores or even spiritual energy, without the use of scientific apparatus. I was experimenting with dowsing as part of a project about travelling the St. Michael’s ley line but I wasn’t any good at it! My aim for going ‘into nature’ was to link dowsing to therapeutic landscape practices and part of the whole tradition of seeing nature as a healthy, peaceful place to unwind. However, some people say dowsing is a form of divination so perhaps I was misusing nature!?

What I’m trying to get at is that my answer will change depending on what you define, or think, nature is! Is it rural landscapes? Is it the outside? Is it the environment? Is it ‘natural’ behaviour? Is it all landscapes? Is it everything? If it isn’t everything why isn’t it!? Is there a ‘culture’ that is separate from ‘nature’, a natural and an unnatural? Can we ask what was the last unnatural thing I did? Or the last cultural thing I did? Perhaps my answer of dowsing would be the same?


I would say the last thing I did in nature was sit at my desk and write this answer!! (hoho!) What about you??

If you’re interested in exploring the idea of there not being a separate nature ‘out there’, or you just think I’m really confusing, take a look at this really awesome Buzzfeed DIY article ’32 Awesome Things To Make With Nature’ article, it might make some of these abstract ideas make more sense, it might not, but you’ll still end up with some super cool decorations! I’ll personally be making the paint-dipped pine cone garland for my birthday!

Hope this helps!!

Commodity Consultant Lizzie

by LizzieH on August 26th at 4:09pm

Question: What are your first memories of nature?


Ooh this question had me stumped!

Why is it that our earliest memories are so fragmentary and elusive hmm….
Apparently those memories that remain from childhood are meant to be striking but I’m sorry to disappoint you that mine are rather more mundane! My sister is called Katherine and, being only two years apart, we used to play together in the field behind my house hunting catkin’s as we thought they were pretty damn special and obviously somehow mystically related to Kath!

If I was going to get a little fancier on you (ooh) I’d say that my most prominent first memory with nature is when I got chicken pox – pathogens, viruses, bacteria – nature kicking my ass. I remember that strangely beautiful milky pink lotion that I spent hours dabbing onto myself and the terrible need to scratch! (luckily I only ended up with a couple of scars!)

Here’s some other people discussing their first memory if you’re interested!

I feel like this is one of those questions where you all go Sigmund Freud on me and analyse the meaning of my memories! Feel free to discuss it in the comments!


by LizzieH on August 27th at 6:07pm


Do you have questions about how this commodity is valued? Or want to talk about your own values in relation to it? Share your comments.

'For years afterwards the farmers found them
the waster young, turning up under their plough blades
as they tended the land back into itself.

A chit of bone, the china plate of a shoulder blade,
the relic of a finger, the blown
and broken bird's egg of a skull,

all mimicked now in flint, breaking blue in white
across the field where they were told to walk, not run,
towards the wood and its nesting machine guns

And even now the earth stands sentinel,
reaching back into itself for reminders of what happened
like a wound working a foreign body to the surface of the skin.

This morning, twenty men buried in one long grave,
a broken mosaic of bone linked arm in arm,
their skeletons paused mid dance-macabre

in boots that outlasted them,
their socketed heads tilted back at an angle
and their jaws, those that have them, dropped open.

As if the notes they had sung
have only now, with this unearthing,
slipped from their absent tongues.'

This is the poem Mametz Wood by poet Owen Sheers, what do you think it tells us about nature?

by LizzieH on August 26th at 8:32pm

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