Steps are used where the terrain is too steep to walk on; they provide a controlled way to move up and down. Ramps are handy when the slope is gentle enough that steps aren't necessary. They make it easy to wheel things in and out, and they're safer than steps because there's nothing to trip on.
Steps and ramps should be wide, even, and well marked with edges defined by stones or other edging. They should also have handrails for safety. Because the ground isn't level, safety is the most important consideration. However, you don't have to use unsustainable approaches. As long as they aren't a hazard, natural materials often fit the bill just as well as high-tech ones.
fftNG/ In the old days, we built steps (and walls) of railroad ties. They were a waste-stream product, having been removed from railroad tracks when they became split or just old. Railroad ties have downsides, though. They're heavy and difficult to cut; and even worse, they're soaked with creosote, which is a health hazard. Their overall nastiness makes railroad ties a bad choice.
As you can see, no one option is perfect but there are some excellent choices.
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