Awareness of the damage caused by our addiction to sand is growing. A number of scientists are working on ways to replace sand in concrete with other materials, including fly ash, the material left over by coal-fired power stations; shredded plastic; and even crushed oil palm shells and rice husks. Others are developing concrete that requires less sand, while researchers are also looking at more effective ways to grind down and recycle concrete.
Vince Beiser digs into the world of sand. Interestingly, it is used in a number of different contexts, from the increase of land to the creation of glass. Also the mining of the resource is having both an environmental impact on rivers and people forced to work.