Housing projects built from discarded plastic bottles are taking over in Africa’s economic hub

Permaculturists have been saying it for years, the architectural community too and almost every day there is a different online listicle proclaiming the wonders of recycling plastic bottles yet, despite all this, African countries like Nigeria are throwing away three million plastic bottles every single day. The United States throws away a staggering 130 million plastic bottles daily. It’s why projects like the ones being led by Kaduna-based NGO Development Association for Renewable Energies (DARE), with help from London-based NGO Africa Community Trust, make us so happy.

The project is solving two problems at once by addressing the homelessness issue and helping the environment. Not only will there be less plastic in landfills, the house is designed to produce zero carbon emissions. In addition, it is completely powered by solar panels and methane gas from recycled human and animal waste.

To create a two-bedroom bottle house, workers fill plastic bottles with sand and then hold them together using mud and cement. This forms a solid wall that is stronger than cinder blocks. That’s not all: These colorful homes are bulletproof, fireproof and can withstand earthquakes. They can also hold a comfortable temperature year round.

The buildings can be built to three stories, but no higher, due to the weight of the sand-filled bottles. And, of course, the magnificent diversity of recycled bottles give each house a unique and bright look. A two-bedroom house only requires 14,000 bottles to complete so there will be plenty of bottles that can be repurposed to build every individual in Africa their own upcycled abode.

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