One of the biggest environmental problems we are facing today is the existence and the indestructibility of plastic. Even the water that we drink contains microplastics if you reuse the water bottle enough times. There is even the issue of plastic in the ocean. It is not organic, so it won’t go away. What can we do about it?
Luckily, some people have come up with a radical new use for the discarded plastic – making houses. So is it possible and sustainable to build a house made of waste plastic?
Andreas Froese and Plastic Bottles
Andreas Froese is German by origin, but since 2001 he has been involved in over 50 projects of building houses using plastic bottles instead of bricks in Latin America. His company, ECO-TEC, short for Eco-Tecnologia, has been working tirelessly on building affordable and sustainable houses in Honduras, Bolivia, and Columbia. They have a history of working alongside government and non-government organizations. Here is what they list as advantages of plastic bottles filled with mud over bricks.
If you drop a brick, it will definitely break. If you drop a water bottle, we are pretty sure that the damage to it will be minimal. The same goes for environmental disasters and any other damage the house might sustain – the material is still there, so there will be no additional waste. It also means that the bottles can take heavy loads without cracking under pressure.
Compared with the effort needed to make a brick and the cost of replacing damaged ones, plastic bottles that are recycled are almost incomparably cheaper. Practically anyone can build a stable and affordable house of their dreams using this as a building material.
Easy to Build
Basically, Froese and his team offer advice on how to build your own projects using this concept with step-by-step instructions as well. It doesn’t take a genius to figure it out.
Another person with a similar idea of helping Latin American countries come up with affordable housing while tackling the environmental issue is Oscar Mendez with his own company, Conceptos Plásticos. Unlike Froese, however, Mendez goes one step beyond – the plastics are ground into a powder and melted to make the building blocks of the new house. A one-bedroom house could be built in less than a week.
Putting it Together
Have you ever played with Lego or similar building blocks? Well, Conceptos Plásticos use a similar principle in their material. The blocks interlock, so there is no need for material like cement or mortar. Why is this an advantage? Well, it makes for a great mobile shelter or even a mobile home. Compared to a standard American mobile home, these are structurally more stable and will not get destroyed if you move.