Digging into the construction industry.

Digging into the construction industry.

The “Walkie Talkie” Building, London. Image: Bloomberg/FT

Hi everyone,

Hope you're doing really well. A warm welcome to our new subscribers: Rachel, Alex, Therese, Hannah, Kate, Sarah, Kelsey, Olivia, Anna, Kaddie, Golda, Sian and Alyssa. Thank you very much for joining us.

Today we're talking construction. 🏗️

Me, earlier this week.

The moving and construction industries have been on my mind a lot recently: on Monday just gone I moved apartment for the 3rd (and hopefully final) time in 2 months. In addition to this, over the past few months I've regularly walked past as an office block on Baker Street in central London has been torn down.

It's the first time I've really taken notice of a demolition. Seeing the tortured steel rods poking out of the boulders of concrete, the line of tip trucks carting away the waste, and the heavy fragrance of dust hanging in the air always gave me a heavy heart. Where does it all go? Is any of it recycled? *Can* any of it be recycled?

Construction debris. Source: RMIT University

When I started to look into the impact of the construction industry, I was flabbergasted. I guess, when you really think about it, it shouldn't be surprising: construction and buildings are heavy-duty stuff. But I was surprised.

In my research into the environment impact of the building industry, the statistic that popped up again and again had to do with raw materials extraction. 400 million tonnes are dug up from the earth each and every year in order to construct or refurbish the buildings around us. According to the data, construction accounts for a full 50% of all natural resources that are extracted from our beautiful planet.

The fashion industry is a heavy polluter, sure, but if we really want to talk about impact, construction (and demolition) is an area that sorely needs more attention. As I said: half of all resources that are mined, chopped down and otherwise processed go into building our homes, our office buildings, our shops and the places we socialise.

I'm a pragmatist. I firmly believe that if we want the construction industry (or any industry for that matter) to change for the better, then any new, more positive behaviour or business model needs to be lucrative. A company called Roland Berger has a great article on their website investigating the opportunities for the construction industry to embrace the circular economy.

Here below is one of the infographics they share, tantalising readers with the potential improved profit margins associated with circular economy based construction business models.

Want to drive real change? Show people how they can make
more money doing “good”. Source: Roland Berger

For my part, if I feel like changing things up in my apartment, interiors these are my two Go-Tos:

1) PAMONO. An an online marketplace where you can buy beautiful (and I really mean beautiful) secondhand furniture and homewares. My wishlist is quite long…

2) OLIO. I can't bear waste, so if I want to change things up in my apartment, I give away things on OLIO so that people in my neighbourhood can come and collect them (keen readers of this newsletter will have heard me mention OLIO before. I should be an ambassador or something!)

Second hand beauties from PAMONO


Ok - I'm off for a nap. It's been a big week!

I'll catch you next Sunday,

Founder | Second Hand Convert | Proud B-Corper

Reading next

The Great Flattening
Cool Tools