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Last Updated:[23-06-2010 01:39:18 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Discarded Plastic Bottles Provide Housing for Poor in Lat-Am

tradenews The ubiquitous plastic bottles, a serious menace to nature is becoming a key raw material in building houses for the low income families of Latin America. The brain behind this project is understood to have drawn inspiration from a need of a little girl who dreamt of having an independent room as she shared one single room with five others.

According to the Efe, the leading Spanish language news agency, the project called “Casas de Botellas” (Houses of Bottles) is the brainchild of Ingrid Vaca Díaz from Bolivia. The ‘green’ houses which Ingrid has been promoting for the last seven years are believed to have natural temperature-control capabilities.

A cluster of glass and plastic bottles of 600ml, one and two litres interlaced with honey, sand, debris, linseed oil and milk have gone into the making of these low-cost homes. Ingrid told “Casas de Botellas is a group effort in which the poorest families, with a helping hand from their friends, relatives, neighbours and volunteer workers, learn to construct their own houses and give themselves and their families a decent place to live.”

The project began in Warnes, her hometown, when a little girl called Claudia told her that for a Christmas present she dreamt of a bedroom of her own, since in her 4-square-meter (43sq.ft.) dwelling she shared a bed with five other people.

Vaca said earlier she used to store the bottles for making handicrafts and chairs; and while her husband informed that he had plans of disposing them off she overheard Claudia’s dream, and conceived a home out of these bottles. The house that Ingrid built in collaboration with Claudia’s family, people of the community and volunteers went from 43 to 1,827sq.ft, and made use of 36,000 two-litre plastic bottles.

The standard is to use for each meter approximately 81 bottles stuffed with throwaway material like paper, plastic bags, batteries, sand and dirt to build the walls of the house. The bottles are stuck together with bricks, lime and cement, and are held with a kind of webbing to make completely sure the construction will be permanent.

Other materials such as rods, roofing tiles, bricks, gravel, window panes, ceramic tiles, wooden frames and accessories for bathrooms and kitchens are donated by companies, individuals and institutions. The finishing touch for the houses is a coat of paint in which the colours of the columns contrast with the walls, and the bottoms of the bottles remain subtly visible and are painted in the form of flowers.

Until now Casas de Botellas has built six homes in Bolivia, one in Argentina and two in Uruguay and Mexico. Twenty more houses are planned to be built in Argentina, and the project is expected to continue collaborating with other communities throughout Latin America.

By Jose Roy

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