Plastic-bottle homes are popping up around the world
In the United States alone, 47 billion plastic bottles are discarded every year, and worldwide, enough plastic is thrown out in a single year to circle the globe four times. But a form of construction being used throughout Africa and Latin America is making a difference, not only by reducing plastic waste, but also by taking advantage of the durability of plastic bottles to provide shelter for the homeless.
The "bottle wall technique," developed by German firm Ecotec Environmental Solutions has been training people in Nigeria, where 16 million people are homeless, to build homes out of plastic bottles.
The process is simple. Bottles are collected and filled with sand, then stacked on their sides and binded together with mud or a cement mix, creating solid walls. The structures are well-insulated, incredibly strong (20 times stronger than brick), fire resistant, and even bullet-proof. A typical two-bedroom home with a toilet, kitchen, and living room requires 14,000 plastic bottles, and costs only a quarter of what a conventional house would.
An increasing number of communities around the world are experimenting with the technology. An Ecotec house in Ecoparque El Zamorano, Honduras was built with 8,000 bottles, without using cement, and supports a green roof that weighs up to 30 tons when wet. Ecotec plastic bottle greenhouses, office partitions, sheds, benches, walls, and community centers are also popping up in Tokyo, the U.S., Europe, and South America.
RELATED: TakePart World and Global Citizen Present 'Sustainability'
Design-wise, colored bottle caps protrude from the walls for a colorful effect, and exposed rows and sections of plastic bottles allow light to filter through the structures. Ecotec even created the world's first vaulted ceiling made out of plastic bottles in Honduras.
This type of environmentally-friendly construction requires a community effort. The bottles must be recovered through massive clean-up efforts and recycling drives, and filling each one with sand often involves many hands in the community.
While this plastic bottle construction technique is now being used in developing countries across the world, some think it makes just as much sense to use it in all countries with high homeless numbers.
Here are some more ways to live in an eco-friendly home:
Related stories on TakePart:
There's a Good Reason Why Plastic Bottles Are Littering the Roads in Bhutan
The Unexpected Way Plastic Bottle Pollution Is Helping the Rainforest
Move Over, Plastic Bottles: This Edible Blob Could Be Quenching Everyone's Thirst