Monday, March 28, 2011

Bottle School Projects Take Learning to New Levels

If discarded plastic bottles can be turned into countertops, bedding, graduation gowns, and athletic apparel, then why not use them to build something greater – like a school?

There have been numerous accounts of schools that have been constructed from recycled bottles, in countries including the Philippines and Guatemala. Reportedly the first of its kind in Asia, the school in San Pablo which is a province in the Philippines, is made out of 1.5 and 2-litre bottles filled with adobe. Conceived and constructed by social entrepreneur Illac Diaz and nonprofit MyShelter Foundation, the new school was donated by the local government of San Pablo, built with the help of volunteers. Not only were the bottles donated costing nothing; studies showed that the adobe filling used is cheaper than concrete and about three times stronger than cement.

There are also the bottle school projects in Guatemala, six of which are already up and running, with four more in progress. The first was built in Granados in 2009 using a construction method pioneered by Pura Vida — filling plastic bottles with inorganic trash, before stacking them between chicken wire and covering them in cement. In the Granados project over 5,000 plastic bottles were used to construct two classrooms, containing 2053lbs of trash and using 9720lbs of cement. 297 children are currently attending the school, which, like the others, was built for around USD 10,000.

Similar in many ways to the Save the Beach Hotel, bottle schools are not just a clever way to turn waste into something useful, they also serve as a reminder of all the waste that's being generated in the first place. One to be inspired by!

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