School in Columbia Uses Plastic Bottles to Build Homes

Used PET plastic bottles that will be used to construct sustainable homes
Used PET plastic bottles that will be used to construct sustainable homes. Image: Euronews.

The many aspects that go into building a home have a bigger impact on the environment than you might think. From transporting raw materials to using trucks, backhoes, bulldozers, and other machinery to transport end-use building products, every step of the process impacts the environment and has a carbon footprint. Furthermore, not every architect takes into account the environmental impacts of bringing their designs to life.

Globally, 40 percent of CO2 emissions are produced by construction practices, according to Euronews Knowledge. So, there’s a lot of room for improvement.

The desire to protect our home is human nature. But too often, we forget that Earth is our home too. We shouldn’t destroy our Earthly home to build the homes we live in.

Organizmo, a sustainable design school in Columbia, is doing things differently by offering courses that teach students how to empower residents in their communities by using alternative building materials and renewable technologies.

Here’s a video from Euronews Knowledge about Organizmo:

Ana Maria Gutierez, the founder and director of Organizmo, has made it her mission to empower students to be innovative when it comes to using available resources for building construction, while minimizing the carbon footprint and environmental impacts of the process.

Today, students at Organizmo are building sustainable homes in a traditional way – with adobe, hay, and mud – but also with innovative materials, like recycled PET plastic bottles. In addition, the homes are constructed with “green” roofs, which collect rainwater and utilize rainwater treatment systems, which helps the homeowners grow their own food.

Green Roof Recycled Plastic Bottle Homes at Organizmo
Green Roof Recycled Plastic Bottle Homes at Organizmo. Image: Euronews.

The students build the homes using a traditional technique referred to as wattle and daub, in which plastic the bottles are filled with sand, then laid side-by-side. The bottles are then topped with mud, and the next row of bottles is placed.

This method of building a home harkens back to a time when residents didn’t have the luxury of trucks to transport building materials. In addition, using recycled materials lowers the environmental impact of the homes, while keeping waste out of the trash heap.

Constructing sustainable, recycled plastic bottle homes using the wattle and daub technique
Constructing sustainable homes using the wattle and daub technique. Image: Euronews.

A home isn’t a home without a toilet, and the Organizmo team has this covered too. Each home is equipped with a composting toilet that enables the homeowners to use their own household waste for something useful instead of just disposing of it. Believe it or not, the compost from the composting toilets can be used to safely and naturally fertilize their food crops.

Although Organizmo is located in Columbia, they welcome students from all over the world, and curriculums are taught in both English and Spanish. Organizmo’s goal is to empower students to apply sustainability practice in their everyday lives, so they can then share them with the world.

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