Plastic Bottle Village of Panama: an Eco-Residential Community

December 28, 2016

One tiny island off of Panama offers an eco-friendly and super stylish alternative to traditional waste disposal. Isla Colon in the Bocas del Toro archipelago contains the world’s first Plastic Bottle Village.

Canadian Robert Bezeau developed the project after moving to the Bocas islands several years ago. He said he started the village after noticing disturbing amounts of plastic strewn across the island’s beaches. After a year and a half of cleaning, he said he had to find a way to use them and realized that he would use them as a building material for new generation housing, aptly dubbed the Plastic Bottle Village.

[Image Source: Robert Bezeau]

“People have changed. The world has changed. If we got to a point where we need to drink water in plastic bottles, we surely have changed! Humans have now reached an increasing volume of 7.3 billion people on the planet. If each one of us drinks only one bottle a day, we are looking at 2.6 trillion bottles a year.”

Design of Plastic Bottle Village

A large house built in Bezeau’s design contains around 20,000 bottles based on two main layers. The primary layer contains bottles stuffed into simple wire mesh caging. That covers a second cage made of steel rebar. The bottle-filled boxes become insulation for each house. The final step involves covering the walls with concrete.

[Image Source: Robert Bezeau]

According to Bezeau, even with transportation costs, building bottle houses still costs less than building fully-cemented houses. The process also doesn’t use electricity to complete.

[Image Source: Robert Bezeau]

Bottles work surprisingly well as insulators. They keep the house roughly 35 degrees cooler than the surrounding Panamanian jungle. Thus, the technique allows users to live comfortably without electricity spent on air conditioning. The buildings are also incredibly durable, safe during floods and earthquakes, and (should anything go wrong in an emergency) the bottle walls can be used as floatation devices.

[Image Source: Robert Bezeau]

Bezeau plans to grow the Plastic Bottle Village to over 120 homes. He wants to include a yoga pavilion, small parks for gatherings and a boutique. The community would also contain an eco-lodge to house a community vegetable, fruit and herb garden.

[Image Source: Robert Bezeau]

“Unless developed countries organize, unite, and educate the developing countries, and give them an incentive to pick-up and reuse the plastic bottles already discarded, we all loose! I want the world to realize that we can reuse plastic bottles in many other applications such as; Home insulation, rapid temporary shelters after disasters, buildings for the animal on farms, swimming pools, water catchment tanks, land drainages, barns, roads, septic tanks and moreover. In fact, we can reuse the plastic bottles in so many applications, that they could become endangered species.”

[Image Source: Robert Bezeau]

The Plastic Bottle Village’s location also opens itself up to the potential for solar energy. The village sits next to several water streams as well, providing residence with a fresh water source.

[Image Source: Robert Bezeau]

Recently a short documentary shot by filmmaker David Freid took viewers behind the scenes of constructing one of the houses. It proves there are always eco-friendly options to reusing and refurbishing our waste, ultimately reducing our carbon footprints.

SEE ALSO: How to Make a Vacuum Cleaner from a Plastic Bottle

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