The House That Pet Built
There’s an old adage that says people living in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. But, that wouldn’t apply to any of these houses. The facilities in these photos were made with recycled plastic, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) to be more precise. PET is one of the most commonly used food grade packaging plastics due to its chemical inertness and flexibility. And the recycling process can be relatively easy.
Some entrepreneurs are using specially made presses to make plastic blocks. Plastic blocks are strong,waterproof, rot proof and insect resistant, all important qualities for building materials. Although most any type of plastic can be used, lower grade plastics are plentiful and seem best suited for making plastic blocks, economically speaking.
However, most facilities won’t process Styrofoam and film plastics like shopping bags and usually ship them to a landfill. But they work great for plastic blocks. Recycled plastic lumber is also quickly becoming a common building material for decking and other outdoor buildings.
Building homes out of recycled plastic makes good economic sense, especially for third world countries and others hit by natural disasters. Construction materials in these areas are expensive, even by US standards. The technique is being widely used in Nigeria and other places to build homes where suitable housing is scarce.
However, it’s not necessary to process any plastics to build a home. Some have done it simply by using discarded plastic bottles. Other creative individuals have used a variety of waste materials in building their dream homes. For example, glass bottles, license plates, aluminum cans, shipping containers, fiber glass panels and old tires. Paper tubes are great for building homes in earthquake prone areas. They are cheap to build and also durable in any season. And since insulation can be expensive, some have turned to using recycled cellulose.
Cost isn’t the only factor involved. The growing concern to save the environment is another. In response many eco-friendly groups have jumped on the band wagon. Houses made of plastic bottles are not only efficient, but cheap if done properly. One such home built in Yelwa, Nigeria, has recently been in the spotlight. The bottles used to build it were filled with dry soil or construction waste material. Plastic bottles prepared in this manner give them great strength and durability. To top it off, the house is solar powered and equipped with a fuel efficient cook stove and urine filtration system.
Such materials are not only used for housing. Many have found them to be useful in building bird houses, dog houses, green houses and play houses for their kids.