When people talk about sustainable building practices, they are usually referring to building homes and businesses from reclaimed wood, masonry, and other rubbish removal recycled from construction and remodel sites. However, a brand new type of sustainable building practice has arrived on the scene and it promises to change the world dramatically and forever! It involves using PLASTIC BOTTLES as “bricks” and or for insulation in construction!
And yes, we ARE talking about ordinary plastic bottles used for soda, juice, water, and other drinks! And yes, we ARE talking using the same kind of plastic bottles you find littering every beach, park, and neighbourhood to build permanent homes, temporary shelters, office buildings, community centers, schools, hospitals, or any other building you can imagine!
And… before you start thinking we’re talking about flimsy buildings that will fall over in the first big gust of wind, think again! These plastic bottle houses and plastic bottle buildings are actually much sturdier that traditional construction. They are an engineering marvel actually. It shows what the human mind can imagine once people really start thinking outside the box…. and this is exactly what we need given the dire rubbish removal crises we currently face.
BILLIONS, not just millions, of plastic bottles are discarded each year! According to a June 2017 article in The Guardian, the world population consumes about one million bottles PER MINUTE! Further, it is predicted that by year 2021, more than half a TRILLION plastic bottles will be consumed per year. Another way to say this is humans will use five hundred billion plastic bottles per year in less than three years! The majority of these plastic bottles don’t get recycled and have no where to go other than landfills, oceans, and littering our environment!
That’s a mountain of plastic bottles causing havoc in our landfills and oceans. In the UK, only about half of the plastic bottles consumed are recycled, and in many countries, the recycle rate of plastic bottles is far lower than this. In fact, in many countries, when the tourists and citizens carelessly discard their plastic bottles, they can’t even afford to put them in a landfill. They simply throw them in a pile and they scatter in the wind!
So, it’s not just media hype… we literally have a looming plastic crisis on our hands! What can we do with all these plastic bottles filling up our rubbish removal bins and being tipped in the park?
Ecologically minded people who deeply care about this looming crisis have figured out a way to use this “waste removal” to solve some of the other major problems the world currently faces: the need for low cost housing, a solution for homelessness, the need for temporary housing in war zones, shelters during disasters, lowering our carbon footprint on all types of construction in all parts of the world, solving the the energy crisis, lowering the impact of tourism, and giving those in dire need schools, hospitals, and community centers.
All of this can be accomplished by using ordinary plastic bottles, that would otherwise end up in rubbish removal bins and landfills, to build amazingly strong structures!
But… how do you turn an ordinary plastic bottle into a “brick” strong enough to build houses and other buildings?
One method that is catching on like wildfire, all around the world, is to fill the plastic bottles rescued from rubbish removal with tightly packed sand! It’s a simple concept, yet brilliant! Once you fill a plastic bottle with sand, you have created a “brick.” These sand filed plastic bottle “brinks” can then be layered like traditional bricks and then held together by mortar made of mud or cement.
In other cases, they are strung together before plastic is applied. In fact, in some cases, no sand is added at all because air is actually a good insulator too!
Once the bottle brick walls are constructed, they can be painted as is or plastered over and then painted. Depending on which end of the bottle is sticking out, and how much plastic you use, you can get nice smooth walls or a very attractive “stone-like” look.
Some rubbish removal builders intentionally incorporate the plastic bottles into the design of the building. For example, they might allow different colored plastic caps to poke through the plastic. They might also allow the various shapes of the bottom of these bottles to show through making intricate wall patterns. In some cases, a single row or a few rows of plastic bottles are NOT filled with sand so that light can filter through. The translucent light effect is dazzling!
With all types of new construction, experimentation is the key to honing the craft. With plastic bottle buildings going up all over the world, people are learning by doing. Here are just a few of the basic tricks that have been discovered thus far:
- If the sand is sieved, this makes the sand pack much better as it removes the lumps, rocks, and debris.
- If you use a stick to pack in the sand, it’s filled denser and more completely than simply pouring the sand into the plastic bottle.
- It works better if the sand is fully dry.
Now, if you are still thinking in the back of your mind that these plastic bottle homes and buildings must be inferior in some way to traditional construction, consider the following facts:
- Engineers, including Ecotec Environmental Solutions, one of the leaders in this type of construction, estimate that houses built with plastic bottle sand bricks are at least TWENTY TIMES STRONGER than those built with traditional bricks.
- It is easy to build rounded walls with plastic bottle bricks. In fact, this makes the walls even stronger!
- These rubbish removal structures are more flexible, and therefore, more earthquake resistant.
- If the bottles are filled with sand, the structure is bullet proof! This is important in war zones.
- It takes about 8000 plastic bottles to build a one bedroom house with a kitchen, dining area, living room, and bathroom. You can build a two bedroom house with 14000 plastic bottles. That’s all bottles that will no longer be in landfills or polluting our environment! Further, there is no limit to how big these plastic bottle buildings can be! In fact, multi-story buildings have already been built using plastic bottles.
- These plastic bottle houses are far more insulated than traditionally built homes. In hot climates, the inside temperature, with no air conditioning, is dramatically cooler. Likewise, in cold climates, it is far easier to heat the interior of these highly insulated bottle homes than a traditionally built home.
Now, what is the sticker price of these plastic bottle buildings? They are no more than one-third the price of a traditional building! And…. if you get a community helping, and you source the sand and bottles from the local area, you can get the price down even lower!
If you spot one or more of these rubbish removal plastic bottle buildings in your travels, or in your neighborhood, please take a picture of it and post it to Clearabee’s Facebook page so both the concept and image can go viral! Alternately, if you post images to a website, please Tweet the URL to Clearabee’s Twitter account! Clearabee is the UK’s largest on demand rubbish removal company and is dedicated to diverting as many plastic bottles and other rubbish removal from landfills as possible.