What Are Some Everyday Uses of Plants?

Plants and plant-derived materials provide humans with everything from oxygen, food and medicinally active chemical compounds to building materials, rope and paper pulp. Plants are also used to beautify both indoor and outdoor spaces.

All plants undergo the process of photosynthesis, which releases oxygen as a by-product into the Earth’s atmosphere. In this way, plants support all the organisms on Earth that require oxygen to survive.

Most food consumed by people worldwide is plant-based. Vegetables, grains and legumes are all derived from plants, as are coffee and tea, chocolate, and corn syrup. Meat, eggs and dairy products originate from animals that consume plant-based feed. Hundreds of medicinal compounds are derived from plants.

Humans use many products derived from trees and other woody plants. Wood is used to build houses, furniture, tools, toys and cooking utensils. Paper and cardboard are made out of wood pulp. Textiles, clothing and ropes are made from other plants such as cotton and flax. Woody plants are a source of fuel and heat when burned or transformed into charcoal. All fossil fuels, including coal, are also derived from ancient plants.

People use both living plants and cut flowers to decorate their homes and offices. Many people enjoy the hobby of propagating flowers and vegetables in their homes and gardens. Gardens and parks are full of plants that enhance people’s enjoyment of these recreational areas.