A house made of bottles

Rezaul Karim Manik and Ahmed Shatil Alam write about a couple in Lalmonirhaat who has been catching everyone’s attention by making a house made of plastic bottles

Lalmonirhat Bottle House P1

During the last few years, the plastic consumption has increased significantly in Bangladesh, especially in the urban areas with the rise in income.  According to the estimation from Waste Concern- a Bangladeshi private organization that works on waste management, plastic consumption has increased from 5.56 kg per person in 2005 to 14.9 kg per person in 2014. This rise has dramatically increased the volume of wastes. The share of plastic waste in Dhaka city has increased from 4.1 per cent in 2005 in overall landfills to 6.5 per cent in 2014, says the Waste Concern’s estimation.

In Bangladesh, on an average, 400 crore of PET bottles are manufactured every year and most of them are thrown into landfills after being used only once, according to another estimation. However, little do we know how long does it take for a plastic bottle to degrade in a landfill! Some might say 500 years while some others would say 1,000 years. We (in our lifetime) never might know how long today’s plastic bottles would take to break down in the environment. According to the Canadian Water Bottle Association, those bottles can take hundreds of year to decompose, if they decompose at all. But we can do something with them while they are around.

Taking this into account and for lowering the house construction cost, many people have come up with making plastic made houses in many parts of the world starting from North America to Africa or from Latin America to Some Asian countries. The news of making plastic made houses in many parts of the world, have been broadcasted in many media. In latest developments, a similar incident spread that a Bangladeshi teacher-couple has started making their house with PET bottles- which were being discarded into waste-bins.

The teacher-couple from northern districts of Lalmonirhaat, has built a bottle made house of 1700 square feet, with an vision to built the house with low cost. ‘When we returned from Dhaka with an aim to settle in Lalmonirhaat, we found it difficult to make our house as the construction cost seemed very expensive’ says Asma Khatun, who was teaching at the Department of Environmental Science, Shaikh Burhanuddin Post Graduate College in Dhaka along with her husband Rashedul Alam.

‘Actually, our elder son is affected with autism, therefore, doctors asked us to raise him at an environmentally healthy place- out of all the chaos of city’, says Rashedul Alam. Subsequently, they returned to Rashedul’s ancestral village at Kaliganj upazilla last December. Unable to gather enough money to build a single-storey house equipped with four rooms, the couple became tensed and was searching to arrange money or find an alternative way.

Lalmonirhat Bottle House P3 (1)

Subsequently one day, Asma came to know that in Japan people made houses with plastic bottles and they were livable. She also came to know that such house were less expensive than the bricks made houses. Afterwards, along with her husband, she studied the engineering of the house through related research in the internet. She says ‘As students and teachers of environmental science, we were convinced at one point that the house would be eco friendly.’

While talking to New Age Xtra two weeks back, she shared her experience of building the house. In making such a house, the couple used around 70 thousand plastic bottles of various sizes from 250 ml to 1.5 litres. The bottles are first filled with sand, then stacked and bound with cement to create solid walls. According to a news report of Huffington Post, such plastic bottle-sand made walls are both fire and bulletproof.

Talking to New Age Xtra, Rashedul says that this house would be earthquake resistant and can be made in at least 40 percent cheaper rate than any brick made house. In total, around 2.5 lakhs Taka had been spent for making the four bed rooms, one kitchen and two verandas equipped house. He bought the plastic bottles from the local bottle recycling stores for Taka 25-30 per kg.

Rashed expressed that at first many including his family members and neighbours taunted him saying it was ‘madness’ and he was doing ‘unrealistic’ things. But with time, once 80 percent work of the house was finished last month, everyone started praising him- for his ‘innovative’ and ‘sustainable’ steps. Currently, their ‘bottle made house’- claimed to be the first ever in Bangladesh of its kind, has started to attract the people as many people are visiting his house every day.

Kaliganj upazila engineer Parvez Newaz Khan opines that such volume of brick made house would costs more than 4 lakhs Taka, in that case such bottle made house would be very efficient for the country’s poor people. He, however, also says that a proper regulation on such bottle-made house is necessary before it become a phenomenon among poor.


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