“The solution to a problem, very often, is right there. We just don’t see it.” – Robert Bezeau

Take a look at the following buildings and make note of what they are made of…

Image: Great people have filled metal cages with plastic bottles to create the framework of the houses.

Source: Robert Bezeau // Plastic Bottle Village

Image: Entrance to the plastic bottle village next to a castle. Both made out of bottles!

Source: Robert Bezeau // Plastic Bottle Village

Notice anything familiar about those building materials? That’s not your average cinderblocks and mortar construction. Those houses are made of plastic bottles!

Welcome to the Plastic Bottle Village!

Let’s face it, it can feel exhausting to think about cleaning up all the plastic on our planet. And yet, that problem is brought home to our everyday lives with each purchase of a simple bottle of water we make. Many of us have begun pushing away that twinge of guilt we feel when we pluck that plastic bottle out of the cooler in the market.

What impact could this one bottle really have?  Well, it all depends on where you put it after you’ve used it, once.

“We eliminate the bottle, by using the bottle” – Robert Bezeau

Here’s a question we don’t hear many people asking: Instead of spending our money and resources on manufacturing new products to create what we need, why aren’t we using what we already have in excess?

Enter, Robert Bezeau and the great people of the Plastic Bottle Village.

The first Plastic Bottle house was erected in 2015, on an island of Bocas Del Toro in Panama. Since then, Bezau and his team have been hard at work at their goal to, “create an education center that will teach individuals from different parts of the planet how to reuse plastic bottles as construction materials for shelter.” 1

The benefits of these houses go beyond cleaning our planet. Take a moment to view the video below and we’re sure you’ll leave inspired!

Via: MEL Films  2

“The idea is to change the world without changing the earth. We can do that. All we have to do is get together and go in the same direction” – Robert Bezeau

The Plastic Bottle Village creates an afterlife for one use bottles, acknowledging and utilizing their almost permanent existence and giving them a purpose as long-term building materials! Amazing!

Here’s an example of what the final product looks like:

Image: Front of a finished plastic bottle house

Source: Robert Bezeau // Plastic Bottle Village

Turning bottles into homes…

What about the practicality of living in a house made of plastic bottles? When asked about the potential fire hazards of a building insulated with plastic, Bezeau wrote in the comments of the above video saying that out of the 7 types of plastic, the Plastic Bottle Village will only use PET #1 in the construction of the house as it only contains 18% petroleum and will shrink instead of igniting if exposed to fire.  3 Pretty cool, right?

If you want to learn more about what all those numbers mean, check out the article we wrote explaining this all!

If we all keep working to develop and support innovations like this, what could our world look like in just 20 years? What about 50? Or 100? Could we create movements in our own communities, and abroad, that will give people more incentives to be more environmentally conscientious?

Robert Bezeau’s vision for the Plastic Bottle Village reaches beyond the buildings. He is also working to help educate locals and visitors to Bocas del Toro on the impact their consumption has on the environment.

“Beginning this month Robert takes his dream globally through an incentive taking place on the islands of Bocas del Toro whose beautiful turquoise sea, super surfing waves, romance and tranquility bring thousands upon thousands of visitors each year. Every one of those visitors consumes more than a few bottles of water each day. What Robert wants these visitors to understand is that each time they purchase a bottle it becomes their property, and it is essential for the delicate ecosystem of the area that these bottles are disposed of properly.  His new initiative creates a way for everybody to benefit from the purchase of “global footprint” stickers.

For a small contribution to the PBV [Plastic Bottle Village] initiative, a set of 25 stickers can be obtained in order for the consumer to attach to the bottles they use.  Once that sticker is on the bottle it becomes a form of currency and serves as an incentive for those stray bottles to be picked up and delivered to the Plastic Bottle Village in exchange for 5 cents each. It is a win/win for every person, every plant and every animal in the island paradise.” 4

All of the extra proceeds from the stickers in Bocas del Toro will go to funding the expansion of the Plastic Bottle Village. There are also strides being made towards a system where non-perishable food is traded for the collection of bottles, benefiting communities in a multitude of ways (see photo).

Image: Robert Bezeau is pictured exchanging bulk food with a man, for a bag of plastic bottles. The incentive is to make the area all around healthier.

Source: Robert Bezeau // Plastic Bottle Village

In an email exchange with Bezeau, he raised two questions that have stuck with me. First:

“There was a time where peoples [sic] were dying from smoking, then Governments obliged the tobacco industries to put warnings on cigarette packs, to warn about the danger. Why is it that the bottlers are not obliged to do the same with plastic bottles devastating our planet?”

And second:

If you recall in 2010, British Petroleum went through an accidental oil spill with the explosion of it’s Horizon platform. That was an accident, and yet they had to pay over 46 billion dollars for the oil spill 5. Every day, bottlers of the world produce and sell billions of plastic bottles, making tons of money, causing voluntary (not accidental) plastic spill in our oceans. Oil spill, plastic spill, what’s the difference? Both are oil…. How much money are they obliged to contribute to clean their spill all over our planet?

Think about those questions for a moment.

What if the companies that manufacture the bottles began a movement themselves? Saving face through donating to projects like the Plastic Bottle Village, or paying a sum in order to fund the clean up of plastic bottles across the world.

Image: Painted text saying, "We are surrounding you. Slowly, day by day, we have been taking over your world. Nobody really like us, but most of you use us. WE are literally whole islands in the oceans. We cause numerous deaths to animals. We poison the air when made or burned. Almost impossible to get rid of us -- the plastic bottles"

Source: Robert Bezeau // Plastic Bottle Village

Bezeau is currently working to initiate a project where flattened plastic bottles will be used as the envelopes people will use to send letters to large companies that create the bottles to create action, which has been so aptly titled, “Return to Sender”. You can see more of his initiatives by visiting the Plastic Bottle Village’s website.

With more minds and bodies moving to make this mission and the resources they offer globally accessible, the possibilities are seemingly endless.

But, this is not something that can be done by one man, Robert Bezeau needs our help.

So, how can you help?

There are communities around the world who are looking to work with the Plastic Bottle Village founders to create structures that will house them safely.

Take this village in Lysoka in Cameroon, Africa, for example, where 20,000 people are losing shelters and buildings because of the earthquakes that occur frequently in the area. PBV has set up a Go Fund Me to collect the funds needed to travel to this community and teach them how to build structures out of plastic bottles.

It’s said that this project could give a purpose to over 2 million of the bottles lounging over the planet! That’s something!

Visit the Go Fund Me page to learn more

The best way to help? Share!

Click any of the buttons at the top of this article to share the project within your own circles. You’ll have a part in spreading the word of this global project and help it end up in other helpful hands! You can view and explore the entire Plastic Bottle Village project by visiting their website! It’s stuffed full of possibility for what our communities and planets could become!

Remain open to new possibilities and happiness may stay nearby!

-Sam

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Notes:

  1.  “English.” Plastic Bottle Village. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2017. <http://www.plasticbottlevillage-theline.com/en/resuse/>.
  2. “Plastic Bottle Village.” Vimeo. MEL Films, 06 Sept. 2017. Web. 06 Sept. 2017. <https://vimeo.com/182464603>.
  3. “Plastic Bottle Village.” Vimeo. MEL Films, 06 Sept. 2017. Web. 06 Sept. 2017. <https://vimeo.com/182464603>.
  4. Sikes, Tamara. “Bocas Del Toro News.” Bocas Del Toro – Panama. Bocas Del Toro, n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2017. <http://bocasdeltoro.com/site_contents/news/530>.
  5. Bomey, Nathan. “BP’s Deepwater Horizon Costs Total $62B.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 14 July 2016. Web. 09 Oct. 2017. <https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/07/14/bp-deepwater-horizon-costs/87087056/>.

Samantha Burns

Executive Assistant, Staff Writer

Samantha is a listener, creator, collector of knick knacks and lover of most, if not all, types of cheese.