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With an estimated 12,500 plastic bottles being discarded every 8 seconds, environmentalists are trying to come up with new innovative uses for this synthetic waste that is rapidly filling our landfills and harming our marine life.
Now, some developing nations are finding a new use for these discarded bottles - building much-needed schools. A Central American organization called Pura Vida was the first to come up with this innovative idea. Instead of using cinder blocks, they stuffed plastic bottles with inorganic trash and built walls by stacking them between chicken wire. They then covered up the whole thing with a light coat of cement. The resulting structure was not only eco-friendly and cheap, but also, as strong as a structure built using normal materials.
The idea appealed to 25-year old peace corp. volunteer Laura Kutner so much, that she suggested it to a rather skeptical school principal, when the walls of the school in the tiny village of Granados began crumbling and there were no funds to build a new structure.
Once he was on board, Laura set about garnering support from the rest of the village. Each student was given the assignment of seeking out 20 bottles and enough plastic waste to fill them up. By the time the 6,000 bottles and waste needed to build the two-classroom school had been collected, not only was the village cleaned out, but so was the trash from the neighboring areas
The project that cost only $5,181 USD was so successful that it has led the establishment of a non-profit organization, Bottle Schools, who with the support of San Diego based Hug it Forward, has to date built five additional schools all over Guatemala and has two more in the works.
Taking the cue from Bottle Schools is My Shelter Foundation who under the leadership of Lilac Diaz has started a similar endeavor in Asia. Built on land donated by the government, the San Pablo, Philippines school was also built by volunteers and 'donations' of plastic bottles by the locals. However, unlike the other bottle schools, the bottles are filled which liquefied adobe, which is three times stronger than concrete and re-enforced with steel bars. The school is also a lot more stylish than the ones previous ones, thanks to its alternate bottle and open-air tile checkerboard pattern. The best part is, this is just one of many that will be build throughout the country. We just have one question - Why aren't these kind of structures being built in developed countries too? Maybe something to ponder over, this Earth Day!
Resources: dothegreenthing.com, abcnews.go.com, bottleschools.com