Houses of Bottles: A Green Way to Fight Poverty
An ingenious, eco-friendly campaign is spreading throughout Latin America to give to those in need. Casas de Botellas, or Houses of Bottles, is a project that constructs houses for the poor out of recycled materials.
Created in 2003 by a woman named Ingrid Vaca Diez in her native Bolivia, the project brings the families in need of housing to work alongside friends, relatives and volunteers. The houses are made of a mixture of glass and plastic bottles, dirt, livestock blood, cement, lime, sand, batteries, flour and water paste, feces, organic waste, auto tires and glucose. The families also participate in planting grass, tress and flowers to create their own gardens.
The Latin American Herald Tribune reports that the idea occurred to Vaca Diez when a young girl named Claudia, who shared a bed with five other people, asked for her own bedroom as a Christmas present.
“Before that I used the bottles I stored in my house for making handicrafts and chairs, but I never thought I’d do anything this great with them. It was when my husband threatened to throw them out and the same afternoon I listened to Claudia that I lost my head and said, this will definitely be a house.”
With the help of Claudia’s family and friends, 36,000 two-liter plastic bottles mixed with other materials became a new house for Claudia and the start of a campaign that has now crossed borders. Casas de Botellas has become successful enough to spread to Argentina and Uruguay, with future projects in the works for Mexico.
To give you an idea of the process, check out the slideshow of one eco-friendly housing project.