The underestimated role of sand and gravel in our daily lives

It is little known that every European "consumes" a kilo of sand per hour, and that sand is the second most exploited resource, right after water. 

Sand and gravel are essential raw materials in the construction industry, serving as the "unsung heroes" that lay the building blocks for our modern human life. Did you know that concrete, which is indispensable in modern construction, requires a healthy amount of sand and gravel for its production? In fact, according to a United Nations report, the construction industry consumes up to 50 billion tons of sand and gravel annually!

I remember learning that fascinating fact during a family visit to a construction site. My father, a civil engineer, explained how the seemingly insignificant particles of sand and gravel are in fact an integral part of our daily lives. I was amazed to learn how these materials have shaped our world, as they are present in structures such as buildings, dams, roads, glass, solar panels, toothpaste, and countless other applications.

The demand for sand and gravel has grown exponentially with the surge in urbanization across the globe. India, for instance, has seen a 470% increase in sand consumption between 2000 and 2017. Although these materials are abundant, it is crucial that we mine and use them in a sustainable manner to protect our environment and future resources.

"Take only memories, leave only footprints," is a phrase I once heard that resounds in my mind whenever I think of sand and gravel. Despite the substantial role these materials play in supporting our lives, they can go unnoticed, tucked away beneath the bearings of our modern world.

A quirky tidbit about sand: Did you know that different types of sand exist? Beach sand, desert sand, and even glass sand all offer their unique properties and purposes. Not all sand can be used for construction purposes. Desert sand, for example, is unfit for construction due to its rounded nature, which prevents the formation of stable structures.

As a blogger, I typically speak about various topics, but today, I wanted to share just how extraordinary and pivotal these humble particles are to the foundation of our civilization. Let us appreciate the beauty and strength that lies within sand and recognize that even the most unassuming elements can hold great significance.

Next time you stroll on the beach or walk along a newly built road, take a moment to think about those tiny, unsung heroes underfoot. Like many things in life, it is often the hidden gems that contribute so much to our world.