Plastic bottles are a massive ecological problem. They can’t be recycled, they clog up the environment and end up in landfill sites, doing nothing but leaching chemicals used in their production. They take hundreds of years to biodegrade and we produce millions each year, worldwide. So why not build houses with them?
Using plastic bottles to create essential buildings is a brilliant solution to an ongoing problem in Nigeria, where the housing shortage is chronic and there is urgent need for 17 million more housing units. Nigeria throws away 3 million plastic bottles each day. In an area of dire poverty and housing shortage, to recycle bottle waste is cheap, practical and makes for diverse buildings. Methane gas from animal and human waste together with solar panels provides the energy to run the houses, which have zero carbon emissions.The peculiar requirements of the area also means the bulletproof, fireproof and earthquake-proof nature of the plastic bottle buildings transforms an item of litter, mixed with mud and filled with sand, into an ideal building material. The idea to utlise a plentiful item of waste and turn it into eco friendly homes is inspired, and was led by Kaduna, Nigeria-based Non Government Organization, DARE, (Development Association for Renewable Energies) together with London based NGO Africa Community Trust.
Bottles have been used to build homes for generations, like Les Maisons de Boteilles or The Bottle Houses, built in Canada in the 60s:
In Serbia, teacher Tomislav Radovanov used 13,500 plastic bottles to build his house:
Building with glass bottles has been ongoing for centuries. Building with used plastic bottles is the next, logical stage in turning refuse into usable homes. The finished product forms a material that is stronger than cement blocks and the vast diversity of plastic bottles available means every building is unique.
So, fancy a go yourself? It may seem like a quixotic move, but it could just be a DIY dream away. Here are step by step instructions – as long as you don’t bottle out.
Photos of Nigerian project by Andreas Froese/ECOTEC February 2011