Eco-housing has reached a new level as the newest trend in building materials is used plastic bottles. Walls for these houses are created by filling a used bottle with sand, sediment, or human/animal waste and making a mud cement to hold the “bricks” together.
Becoming quite popular in Nigeria, these houses have also become common in rural parts of South America, including Honduras and Argentina. They are especially valuable in tropical temperatures because they keep an internal temperature of roughly 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, these houses are bulletproof, fireproof, and earthquake resistant. They can be built up to three stories high and they are found to be more sturdy that those built by cement bricks.
Some builders have made further advancements to these homes by adding solar panels and water filtration systems. Many also have “green roofs” to make them even more environmentally friendly.
These houses have become great alternatives as they have helped with shelter shortages in Africa and South America while offering an output for plastic bottles that would otherwise end up in landfills or oceans. In some places, these houses have been made to be more appealing with painting and strategic bottle placement.
So, could these practices be utilized in the U.S. as solutions to the current homelessness and waste problems? The answer: maybe. It takes an average of 14,000 bottles to build one of these 2-bedroom houses. The U.S. throws away 1,500 plastic bottles per second (not including those that are properly recycled). This means 3,600 bottles per hour or 129,600,000 per day! Therefore, with the 47.3 billion plastic bottles that go to the landfills every year, the United States can build 9,257 2-bedroom houses a day, or 3.37 million a year. There are 3.5 million homeless people in the United States.
While this may seem like the perfect solution to both homelessness and plastic waste, there are complications such as building codes in the U.S. that make this improbable.