Whether it’s the lush green hillsides and volcanoes, ethereal lakes, miles and miles of cloud forests or the thick jungle that comes to life at night, nearly everyone that comes to Guatemala finds themselves impressed by the country’s natural beauty. Unfortunately, that beauty has been increasingly spoiled by the nation’s struggle to properly dispose of its waste.
Thanks to ever-present cheap bags of chips and the soda industry’s move to plastic, non-returnable bottles, more and more areas have become dotted with a trail of inorganic trash. The common thinking is, “What difference does it make if I throw one more bottle into the pile?’”
There is a solution that can help clean up Guatemala’s pueblos and promote environmental stewardship while also providing its people with safe and affordable schools and housing. It utilizes Ecoladrillos, aka bottle bricks, in place of traditional cement blocks, and it’s catching on rapidly all over Guatemala. It involves filling plastic bottles with scraps of inorganic trash, then sealing and stacking them to create a stable and secure wall. Architects and occupants alike have praised bottle construction, which offers structural integrity and safety equal to that of traditional building materials.
Collecting and filling bottle bricks is a time-intensive process that encourages community participation and planning, something we at Miracles love to see. Children in particular can be great bottle finders and fillers. More importantly, their role in this important communal process is empowering and teaches them that they are capable of influencing and caring for the environment.
To recap: A community using bottle brick construction gains a sturdy, new building while also cleaning up its streets and walkways. As an added bonus, it inspires a generation of children to get their hands dirty to protect the environment. Talk about a powerful solution!
Miracles in Action has created a brief video that explains how to make ecoladrillos. Take a look and share it with your friends and organizations to help spread the word about this ingenious construction process that can benefit Guatemala’s beautiful people and places.