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House of Bottles

We've heard of temples made out of bottles, and houses decorated with them, but here's a utilitarian use for your recyclables. In Warnes, 30km from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, former lawyer Ingrid Vaca Díez is helping poor families build affordable housing using the stuff we normally throw away.

Her project, Centro Ecoagroturistico (EcoAgroTouristic Center) was born from the idea of using unwanted material to build eco-friendly houses. With six other like-minded women, she collected four thousand plastic bottles, known as pet, from friends, local schools and bountiful garbage dumps to obtain the materials needed for their work.

The bottles were filled with sand, earth or sawdust to make them hard, then bound to each other using cement, one on top of the other. When that work was completed, another coat of cement, clay or straw was applied to both sides to reinforce the wall.

It's labor-intensive work. Eighty one bottles are needed to create one square meter and at least ten thousand are needed to build one small house with two bedrooms, living/dining area, kitchen and bathroom.

But Ingrid has big plans. Her dream is to create homes for the 500 families in the neighborhood who are frequently forced from their homes by flooding. And she strongly believes her initiative will soon become a reality. 'Last year,' remembers Ingrid, who also teaches at the Nuestra Señora de Fátima School, 'I asked my students what was the one thing they longed the most for. Many of them, children that work in the sugar cane fields, wrote that they wanted to have a room and a bed to sleep since they didn’t have one.'

'I saw a piece on TV, where houses were being made out of plastic bottles,' she explains. 'I thought to myself, we use a lot, trash them and are easy to get since they are found everywhere, just as tires are.'


Eventually, Ingrid plans to transform this area into a tourist attraction with a water park with boats to sail in, and artificial ponds for fish farming creating a mean of income for the locals. Then she plans to move on to other towns. Good luck to her.

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    June 17, 2011


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  • Michel

    May 18, 2010

    I would hope these houses are strong enough to withstand floods. Overall its a great project. Good Luck Ingrid!

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