Billions of plastic bottles, most used only once, are thrown away each year and fill up landfills and the sides of highways. So how can we utilize this plethora of wasted material in an innovative and sustainable way? Instead of looking towards new materials, architects and builders should look at new ways to use materials we already have in abundance. Recently, initiatives in Africa and Central and South America have been using plastic bottles as building materials. These new bottle houses are well insulated, sturdy, cheap and easy to build. They also offer protection because they are bulletproof, fireproof and earthquake resistant.
In Nigeria, 500 million plastic beverage bottles are thrown away every year and it only takes 14,000 bottles of the same size to make a two-bedroom bottle home. These plastic bottles, coupled with sand, create strong and sturdy brick-like modules that are tightly packed and can be up to 20 times stronger than a wall made of concrete cinder blocks. In countries in Africa and South and Central America, the sand is useful in insulating the homes to maintain a balanced temperature and the walls provide protection in often volatile areas. Building the houses costs ⅔ less than a traditional house made of concrete and bricks and can become community projects allowing anyone to work on them. These houses are an innovative solution to the housing problems in developing countries as well as the growing trash and pollution crises across the world.