How to Construct Houses with Plastic Bottles


It may seem unbelievable but you can build houses out of plastic bottles filled with sand. These projects are made especially by NGOs from African countries. For example, the house from the video below was made by the Samaprman Foundation. The plastic bottles were gathered from trash cans and then filled with sand. This way, volunteers managed to make 6,000 `bricks` from sand-filled plastic bottles. With the help of these bricks they succeeded to build a small house which is used as a classroom. See more details in the video below.




46 Responses to “How to Construct Houses with Plastic Bottles”

  1. andrew says:

    wow that is really clever. must let my neighbour know, he has tons of plastic bottles AND is wanting to build on!

    • CroShayLady says:

      Was that a “tongue in cheek” statement? If you were serious: Mr. Neighbor needs to check out the local building guidelines. He will also need a permit.

  2. Gale says:

    Wouldn’t the heat of the day make those plastic bottles leech toxic fumes into the class rooms?
    Just a question, because I am unsure. Nice idea if it is not toxic to the children and teachers in the classroom.

    • Kendall Bassett says:

      No, not only is it sealed in plaster, but plastic bottles do not leach, if they did they would decompose, which they do not.

      • terry says:

        the modern plastic bottles are treated to break down to eliminate land fill concentration. The exposed plastic will fall apart with ozone exposure.

  3. Alan says:

    That’s great idea! I like it!

  4. mike says:

    the plastic can’t be exposed to sun. UV rays will degraded the plastic and become brittle

  5. K.T says:

    It´s done the same in Guatemala on Lake Atitlan, just with plastic trash inside the bottles rather than sand. A great way to recycle when there is no other way!!

  6. Terry B says:

    Seem very pop-ular

  7. Andy says:

    Wouldn’t this project be a lot easier and use a lot less plaster with good old Cinder Blocks? Seems like it would go up about 4x faster and last longer…

    • Mallory says:

      Andy, go to Africa…. there are very little cinder blocks or cement companies. But, there is an excess amount of trash, most of which are plastic bottles. this not only removes some of the trash, but it repurposes it in a useful way!

      • Rebecca says:

        Re-use, re-purpose is always the better choice over throwing it away. I pick up bottles and cans along side the roads in which people have thrown from their cars. Dirty habits with an uncaring spirit. I for 1 don’t want my state to end up looking like a land fill or dump, therefore I collect reusable trash if you will.

      • CroShayLady says:

        Great reply. You were gentle and informative. In Andy’s defense: we usually initially respond to a new idea based on our own background experiences. Andy would have figured it out had he seen documentaries about Africa. Thank you!

  8. terry says:

    I do not see how this will work…the plastic bottles are treated to break down with exposure to the ozone. That would mean that the exposed bottle ends will break down and come apart with the sand running out.

  9. lance says:

    Essentially, they are earthen walls that are given shape and strength by concrete and a plastic lattice created by the bottle shells. Probably very durable since bottles decompose at a very low rate if not exposed to sunlight. Though labor-intensive, it takes waste plastic out of the environment and is probably a reasonable plan in places where people are used to handwork and may not have other paying jobs available. And besides, little additional energy required, like sawing/drying wood or baking bricks.

  10. holly says:

    I am imagining lots of off-gassing…..

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Awesome! !! Obviously you need to WATCH the video to see the whole thing come together.

  12. Lindy says:

    Wow everyone hating on this… How about going outside and building a classroom without going to the store or using electricity or spending money. Just stuff laying around outside. This is amazing, also could make greenhouses using similar concepts.

  13. joc says:

    v nice. the real truth is that cement is the big cost, plus door frames,windows, asbestos roofs… We need a cheeper ‘cement”. And garbage gasses off…

  14. joc says:

    v nice. the real truth is that cement is the big cost, plus door frames,windows, asbestos roofs… We need a cheeper ‘cement”. And garbage gasses off…Ps… r u in Vancouver? would love to connect. See Malambo Grassroots on Facebook..

  15. eric says:

    Wonder what the r value would be in a more temperate climate or if you could stuff with somthing else to get better insulation

  16. Sue says:

    This is great! Works for them and they used resources and trash from their area, good for them.
    Why can’t some people just appreciate what they did where they are and stop going on about the negative? If you watch the video and don’t just read the story you will see they plastered the walls in and out, so the bottles will never be exposed to direct sunlight.
    Self sufficiency, reuse-reduce-recycle, all these things are meant to help others, you do what you can with what you have where you are.
    Just because it won’t work for you doesn’ t mean it isn’t a great solution for them.

  17. Marian says:

    Why not add a plaster coating once the walls are up inside and out? Should work sealing the walls and insulation.

    • Mike says:

      You must not have watched the video. All the bottles are plastered inside and out including the floor which is then tiled.

  18. Robert says:

    How do the bottles get treated for uv protection? I have seen plasitc soda bottles become brittle in 6 months in the desert. So when they spring a leak the sand runs out causing a void. So how is that prevented?

  19. Kristi says:

    Hello Robet.. Please watch the video! You will find your answers there!

  20. Nadia says:

    i am wondering if it’s healthy and comfortable inside? plastic does not “breath” so wouldn’t that make it very hot inside? especially if we’re talking about hot areas?

  21. Toni says:

    Oh my goodness! Do people not even READ anymore? Or did ya’ll grow up “reading ” picture books?! This is an awesome accomplishment! Ingenious, really. I give them great kudos for their resourcefulness.

  22. Michael Bornitz says:

    Cool looking does not automatically mean sustainable.

    PET or HDPE … have to be recovered immediately after first use, anything else doesn’t fit in the 5R concept.

    Sorry, I don´t like these concepts.

    First of all: The plastic during it´s construction-lifespan will continue to attract contaminants.

    First world construccion and waste regulation do already classify the compound as hazardous waste! So why promote this in the third world?

    Plastic is bad waste, so why should we undermine ongoing sensibilisation?

  23. YvetteP says:

    For the negative people pleease watch the video to the end before making senseless comments. It shows the full process. Great work… you’d never guess there were bottles used when seeing the end result

  24. Bre says:

    Hahaha so many people do not read or even have the energy to press play! Get off the Internet and do something or learn something!! This is an amazing thing that people are creating so resourcefully. I really hope more and more people can come together to create life from all the waste that’s being left by others and everyone.

  25. flo says:

    On average it takes plastic 450 years to bio degrade completely. Apparently some take up to 1000 years.
    There are different kinds of plastic. The least biodegradable is the plastic known as PET. These tend to be the ones used in the construction of these buildings.
    As for the toxins, I don’t think one is likely to breathe in fumes produced by the bottles for the mere fact they would have to permeate the plaster.
    Imagine this – if these “toxic gasses” can come through the plaster, what about water?
    I may be wrong, but I will stick my head out and say they are pretty safe.

  26. Duh says:

    Everything decomposes. To all the party crashers who live in stick built houses. Your house decomposes too! I know, I know that can’t be , right? But it is. Your homes life expectancy is about 150 years.
    Enough haten on the bottle house which will probably last longer than yours.

  27. Janie says:

    REALLY REALLY cool…I love the idea of what you can do if put your mind to it. Amazing…I want to try it

  28. Janie says:

    REALLY REALLY cool…I love the idea of what you can do if put your mind to it. Amazing…I want to try it

  29. Debbie Fulton says:

    This is a win-win situation. Homes for underprivileged, and recycling plastic bottles. I think that once the walls are plastered, will cut down on decomposition of the plastic. All they need now is air conditioning. They can have air conditioning by recycling plastic bottles again. Find out which window gets the most breeze’s. Take a window sizes board cut 12-15, 2 liter bottle neck sized holes, caps off. Making sure the bottles fit tightly. Cut the bottom of the bottles off. Place the board in the breezy window, neck side inside. TaDa!! Air conditioning without electricity!

  30. Kimberly Patton says:

    I thought this was such a brilliant idea when I saw it a couple of years ago on a video(probably YouTube or Instructables)..My husband is disabled completely as time has passed and ,although we own our home outright,we are on limited funds when it comes to structure repairs or renovations.The good part is though that my husband must keep hydrated and his only drink of choice is Pepsi.I think we keep them in business since he goes through to 1-1/2 of them daily.that adds up to 30 to sometimes as much as 50 empty plastic 2 liter bottles per month with my son here on weekends and bringing his 2 liter Dr.Peppers..It started the gears turning because filling them with sand and What I thought- brace them with some 10 ft sections of livestock large grid fencing they will fit into the openings of nicely- and I could build a very suitable garden Wall or insulate with a wall somehow that killer afternoon west sun that cooks that side of the house with no tree there.I’m no engineer but I can find one …Or the internet and YouTube which I’d be lost without.I have to do all the maintenance & repairs on this old house and I’d be lost without them.The challenge is to have a stable and solid method of stacking them that will ensure their placement and still maintain a dignified appearance and add to the property I’m an attractive way.I have a neighbor who is quite critical and a bit of a snob so that’s another perspective that must be taken into account.I have been re – reminded of this idea again and I thank you! I’m going to give it some serious thought and see what I can come up with..Maybe get some other feedback from some carpenters,handymen and construction pros that I know of here on my little town…Ify project materializes- small one at first maybe!…I’ll post and look for it on the future…I even saw a few pool building diy ideas with recycled tubs/ plastic bins etc,and that’s a great bidding idea!

  31. Rhonda says:

    Plastic gets brittle when exposed to the Sun if you do a science experiment for yourself fill the bottle with sand put it in the sun and chart on it until you see for yourself. That would be better then someone building it and find yourself under the bottle. Maybe your family finding your body under it. It would be a cool idea if it worked, but the plastic wiil get brittle

  32. Barbara Grace says:

    I think these houses are perfectly good. They would cost a lot less than conventional houses for a start and would last just as long. As for gasses and leaking, all a load of nonsense. It would keep your house cool in summer and warm in winter I think as the walls are thicker than the average wall. I would love to be able to build one of these myself. I am going to collect all my own water bottles , fill them with sand and when I have enought I will start building in my back yard. This is just to see for myself and I could just make a little store room. If it works I will go and show some people in South Africa how to do this. I think it will be far more comfortable than where some of them are living now,

  33. mary says:

    Work out all problems! Prefab 5/6 designs. Keep cost low and see if government rural areas are interested. P.S. Make a fortune and save the world! P.S. Find a way to safely dispose of old materials and make another fortune

  34. Russell Morris says:

    That is incorrect. The kind of plastic used to make most drink bottles, especially fizzy drink bottles is very strong so that it can withstand internal gas pressure without distorting. PET is the abreviated name of the plastic. It is pretty much inert, and will take thousands of years to break down. Only UV light will break it down, but even that will take many decades. It doesn’t leach anything. Encased in a earthen or concrete wall, it will outlast the pyramids. If nylon string or fishnet is incorporated into the render, it will be pretty much earthquake proof as well. These buildings are not only sustainable and cheap, but they are made to last!!!!!! If building codes don’t allow them, then the building codes are mind numbingly stupid!!!!!

  35. Apoorva says:

    This is a great idea to eliminate all the plastic waste that we have created. But what about if a nail needs to be put on the wall or some drilling required for piping and wires. How does it hold up unless they are done during construction time.

  36. Chris Harries says:

    Have to say, they look neat. How does this construction cope with earth tremors?

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