28 Apr, 2022 Lifestyle & Inspiration Wood for Thought

Waste: the Seventh Natural Resource

Every year, civilisation uses billions of tonnes of natural resources. By 2050, worldwide municipal solid waste generation is expected to increase by roughly 70% to 3.4 billion metric tons. Unfortunately the majority of this waste is composed of non-renewable resources which will eventually run out.


As the climate crisis deepens, can we turn this around and begin to use more of our precious waste?

“There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw anything ‘away’ it must go somewhere.”

Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA



The 18th March saw the world highlight Global Recycling Day, a day which aims ask people across the planet to think about what we throw away, and to tell world leaders that recycling is simply too important not to be a global issue. Waste is not simply waste – it represents a huge amount of opportunity to help us protect the use of our finite natural resources.



Our 7 Primary Resources:
Water, Air, Oil, Natural gas,
Coal, Minerals and Waste



Of the earth’s primary resources, we usually consider six to be the most important – water, air, oil, natural gas, coal and minerals. All our food, all our sustenance, all our belongings ultimately come from these six elements, representing the foundation of our existence. Today, humanity can’t survive without them.

However, not all of these resources are used to their full potential. Throughout recent history we’ve carelessly been using the earth’s natural resources without thinking about what will replace them, and billions of tons of waste are filling up our landfills each year.


But there is a solution: recycle more and view waste as our seventh resource.

Waste: the Seventh Primary Resource


Recycling is a key process within the circular economy which helps to protect the other six natural resources. Each year the Seventh Resource (recyclables) saves an estimated 700 million tonnes in CO2 emissions which is expected to increase to 1 billion tons by 2030. It seems pretty clear to us that recycling is on the front line in the war to keep temperature increase below 3 degrees.


By recycling more, we can help to:


1. Reduce climate-changing emissions

Extracting and processing raw materials uses much more energy than recycling these resources. Producing new aluminium from old products (including recycled cans and foil) uses 95% less energy than making it from scratch is one example, and what we do here at Glasgow Wood helps to prevent vast quantities of trees from being felled. As a result of these energy savings, we’re helping to prevent the release of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere.


2. Boost local employment around the world

Approximately 1.6 million people worldwide are employed in processing recyclables, which is expected to increase drastically over the next decade (including in sectors like ours!). Last year, Community Wood Recycling employed a total of 250 employees, and here at Glasgow Wood we have over 40 team members and counting.


3. Conserve the earth’s six precious primary resources

Consumption of our natural resources is estimated to have more than tripled since 1970. By reusing more, we can help to preserve the six main resources for future generations.

If we all began to see waste as a valuable resource we’d be able to make a difference in reducing the impacts of the climate crisis.


Here at Glasgow Wood, we’re doing our part in reducing the amount of useable timber needlessly heading to landfill. We do this by encouraging our community to build more from reclaimed timber; we help local businesses to recycle more of their wood waste; and we provide furniture and bespoke services using reclaimed timber as an alternative to purchasing brand new.


Here’s a few things we can help you with:

1. Take a look at our community creations highlights on Instagram and get inspired!

2. Learn more about our wood collections service and see our latest recycling statistics.

3. And get in touch with us if there’s something in our product range made from reclaimed timber which you like the look of.


So who remembers this WRAP advert from 2005? The slogan still seems to ring true over 15 years later.

Reduce – reuse – recycle, and get creative – the possibilities truly are endless!

A few Waste Less Tips


We’ve put together a small, non-exhaustive collection of resources below to help you to be inspired, learn more and find services in the community. If you have tools or services which you use and would like to be a part of this list please contact us!


Less Waste Laura

Be inspired by and follow Laura, a young Glaswegian climate activist, environmental scientist, sustainability educator, and ethical influencer.


Reuse Tool by Zero Waste Scotland

Find local re-use organisations in Scotland that collect near to you.


Waste Less by Zero Waste Scotland

Learn more about how to waste less, including food and much more.


Remade Network

A Glasgow-based repair & reuse social enterprise, helping communities to repair broken possessions and reject throw away culture.


Deposit Return Scheme

The much anticipated Deposit Return Scheme is to go live in August 2023. Fingers crossed it goes ahead!


Good Moves

Employment opportunities in the Scottish voluntary sector which make a difference.


Environment Jobs

The UK’s biggest environmental jobs site.


Escape the City

Find work that matters to you and the world.


And for an interesting read, take a look at the Atmos Newsletter

The Overview by Atmos is a weekly newsletter in which Editor-in-Chief Willow Defebaugh offers a unique take on life on Earth. A mindful and intriguing read each week.





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