Sand wars: why designers should care that the world’s sand is disappearing

Sand samples

The planet's sand reserves are under serious threat. Fuelled by a worldwide construction boom and increasing urbanisation, aggressive sand mining is eroding beaches, damaging infrastructure, disrupting ecosystems and giving rise to illegal trade governed by a brutal ’sand mafia’ that isn’t afraid to kill.

The UN estimates that the mining of sand and gravel may exceed 40 billion tonnes a year. The problem is that the material is being extracted at a rate far greater than its renewal: three-quarters of the world's beaches are in decline, and that’s just the start of it. 

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Julia Sagar
Editor-in-chief retail

Julia is editor-in-chief, retail at Future Ltd, where she works in e-commerce across a number of consumer lifestyle brands. A former editor of design website Creative Bloq, she’s also worked on a variety of print titles, and was part of the team that launched consumer tech website TechRadar. She's been writing about art, design and technology for over 15 years.