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December 5, 2011
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Hug It Forward … Magic in a Bottle


Building Schools out of Trash

Can trash help to bring education to the poorest on the planet? Yes, it can! Hug It Forward, a San Diego-based non-profit organization, empowers communities to build new schools in Guatemala on a shoestring budget by turning plastic soda bottles and other trash into raw construction materials. Many benefits for the community, kids and our eco-system included.

Building up houses and schools is a pretty expensive undertaking in our hemisphere, widely funded by governments and local authorities. The situation in developing countries isn't that different, except the fact that comprehensive funds are widely missing. But there is a way to turn distant dreams of education into reality, by harnessing the power of community and collaboration.


First, each child in the village is asked to collect at least 20 plastic bottles. The students and volunteers
stuff the bottles with plastic waste, such as Styrofoam, snack wrappers and plastic bags for insulation.
The more compacted, the sturdier the building blocks and the less garbage remaining on the streets.




The bottles were bound between layers of chicken wire which are attached to a frame (usually made of
reinforced concrete, but made of metal in this picture). Students stuff waste plastic in between the bottles.




Up to three layers of cement mixed with sand is applied to the outside of the bottles,
with paint adding the finishing touch.


DONE! Isn't that an awesome and simple idea worth spreading?

It's not just about providing the much-needed educational infrastructure for poorer communities - streets get cleaned of non-biodegradable trash and environmental awareness is raised about recycling and proper trash management. Fostering community leadership and teaching new skills that can be used to gain employment or on other community projects is just another side-product. The ownership of the schools is given directly to the kids, because they built them up with their own hands and commitment. As reported on the Hug It Forward Website, the coming together as one during the project has a far reaching uniting-effect on the communities.




You would never know the main ingredient if they did not leave cutouts...

The Bottle School Project, by Hug It Forward, built their first school in Granados, Guatemala, in October 2009, over 5,000 plastic bottles were used to build two classrooms, containing 2053lbs of trash and using 9720lbs of cement. 297 children and youth currently attend the school, which serves a municipality of 13,860 people throughout 95.75 square miles. Since the completion of the Granados project, Hug It Forward has built 14 Bottle Schools and has four more in the works. Learn all about Hug It Forward's Bottle Schools in this Video

Insulating walls with plastic bottles stuffed with inorganic trash was pioneered in Guatemala by the organization Pura Vida. Instead of the common cinder-block walls used in Central America, "eco-bricks" are stacked in between chicken wire, and covered in cement. The bottles are used solely as insulation; the buildings are supported by professionally built, structurally sound frames. This method of construction is both eco-friendly and economical, and independent structural analysis has testified to the strength and safety of the buildings.


Hug It Forward works to support and empower communities in Guatemala
to build Bottle Schools using discarded plastic bottles and non-biodegradable
trash. Bottle School projects have many benefits, including:

— Providing much needed educational infrastructure for poorer communities
— Cleaning the streets of non-biodegradable trash
— Teaching environmental awareness, recycling and proper trash management
— Fostering community leadership
— Teaching new skills that can be used to gain employment or on other community projects
— Spending capital within the local community where the school is being built
— Giving kids ownership of the school, because they build it with their own hands
— Uniting communities, they come together as one during the project

If you'd like to know more about the Project visit their Website http://HugItForward.org or spread the word about their project via Facebook Here or Twitter Here. Hug It Forward's mission is to unite people across the world: we are all one people.

One HUGE thing you can do: Instead of getting gifts this year, why not ask your friends to make a donation to Bottle Schools in your honor? Your sacrifice will enable kids to build their own school and have the chance of an education and a brighter future. Donate Your Christmas HERE!


Want to build a bottle school in your own community? Check out the Bottle School Manual,
a step-by-step guide on how to build bottle schools and watch the
'How to Build a Bottle School' Video
HERE.

RESOURCES FOR THIS ARTICLE:
Heenal Rajani [www.hugitforward.org]
http://www.tedxvienna.at
http://www.clubrunner.ca
http://planetgreen.discovery.com

 

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