The world is running out of sand

A metal buckets with only a small amount of sand in it.

With sand in deserts, on beaches and in rivers all over, can there really be running out of sand? According to environmental experts and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), we are. 

Sand is one of the worlds most used natural resources. Today’s consumption of sand is double the amount of sand that nature naturally refill. The roads we use, many of the buildings we are in, the glass we drink from, the digital device you use to read this all have sand as a key ingredient. Sand is closely involved in our everyday lives regardless if we’re close to a sandy place or not. 

There’s an urgent need for a global agenda for sand. The ever-growing demand for sand has led to sand becoming a conflict-ridden international commodity. The great demand fuels a black market for sand as well as sand mafia. And at many places sand is mined in ways that abuse the environment, harm wildlife and threaten human lives. 

Sand is mined from rivers, oceans and from deposits on land. It’s shipped in gigantic amounts across the globe. Even nations with deserts full of sand import sand. Australia, for example, sends boatloads of sand to the Arabian peninsula. That nations with sand deserts buy sand seems strange but has a reason – desert sand does not hold as a building agent. China, India, and Singapore are some huge sand consumers.

In the end, every nation use sand in infrastructure as roads and buildings, in filtration systems, in glassmaking and in chemical compositions for making paint, food and even pharmaceuticals. And for recreation. Sand is one of the worlds most used natural resources and the world is running out of it. But there’s hope. There must be. Share your disruptive ideas, your thoughts on innovative building techniques or alternative materials. As they say: if there’s a will there’s a way!

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