How the building industry transforms our way of life.

Cindy Grant, September 27, 2021

Do you remember your first cell phone? Mine was a Motorola Razor: a simple flip phone that was state-of-the-art in 2006. As technology improved, it quickly became obsolete. It now sits in a junk drawer with a dozen other electronic devices that I have no use for, don’t know what to do with, and yet can’t seem to part from. Does that sound familiar?

First phone: Motorola Razor

Velimir Zeland/Shutterstock

Well, you are not alone. Collectively, the United States produces 7 million tons of e-waste each year, the equivalent of every car driving around New York City. That’s a lot of valuable resources and materials removed from circulation, polluting the environment as it slowly decomposes over the next 1 to 2 million years. And that’s just in electronics. 300 million tons of plastic waste is generated every year - the equivalent weight of the entire human population. Even then, the building industry is far from immune with 600 million tons of waste added from construction projects.

So, is there a better way? What if we could recycle these materials, bring them back into the economy, and, in doing so, create a circular life cycle rather than the current, linear one? Is it realistic - or manageable - to try? Will these efforts even be supported? 

While this warrants consideration, hope is still able to shine through. Something like urban mining is not a silver bullet, it is a step in the direction of a circular economy: greatly reducing the environmental impact of the building industry, e-waste, and more. If you're interested, I recommend checking out this article on ‘A world without waste: the rise of urban mining.’ You can also listen to Rasa Weber's 20-minute “Innovative Materials” podcast interview by clicking here. I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

You can also watch Rasa's Change by Design webinar: Urban Mining, where she goes in-depth on these topics. 

Here is to making a difference - by design.

:Change by Designurban miningResponsible Consumption and Production