Can Green Design Play a Role in Global Sustainability?
Nigeria is building houses out of a most unusual building block.
Plastic waste is a growing global challenge. It hangs around for years and years, meaning it accumulates and causes problems like leakage into water sources, threatening ecosystems and the people who depend on them for reliable food. In short, plastic is a huge source of waste that we have to figure out how to deal with.
At the same time, we live in a world of perpetual instability, with multiple refugee crises happening and poverty as a regular fact of life. Housing and homelessness are real concerns for entire populations throughout the world. What can be done to help ensure that everyone who needs a home can have access to one?
German-based company Ecotec Environmental Solutions may have just stumbled upon a partial solution to both issues. The company has developed a new way to build houses in Nigeria out of discarded plastic bottles, and the whole process costs about a quarter of the average amount for materials and home construction.
(Aminu Abubakar/Getty Images)
The homes are built by collecting leftover plastic bottles, filling them with sand, placing them together, and then filling in the crevices between the bottles with mud or cement. But just because the process is cheaper doesn’t mean it’s not labor intensive. It takes about 14,000 filled bottles to create a two-bedroom home with a kitchen, a bathroom, and a living room, which is a lot of manual labor.
Before we go about praising these kinds of inventions to high heaven, it would be important to know how sustainable this project is to communities. Will plastic bottle homes be the solution that millions of homeless people worldwide need to find stability, or is it just a cool design idea?
It can’t be denied that green is “in” these days. From purses to architecture, it’s fashionable and hip to use eco-friendly products. There’s a lot of positive things about that trend, and it may be the source of a new way of existing that keeps our planet livable. But it might take time to find the solutions that work best. Plastic bottle houses could be a great place to start, and at the same time it could take years to see if the system truly works for local residents.
Stefani is a writer and urban planner based in Oakland, CA. She holds a master’s in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s in Human Biology from Stanford University. In her free time she is often found reading diverse literature, writing stories, or enjoying the outdoors. Follow her on Twitter: @stefanicox
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?
A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.
- The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
- Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
- Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.
- It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
- Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.