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Global Ideas

Building walls with waste

Redefining recycling - in Guatemala, bottles and waste are being used as building material.

Watch video 07:03

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Project goal: Waste recycling and training

Project size: A 17-building school complex including a vocation school, with1000 volunteers from 22 countries on hand

Project volume: Since 2004, the leading NGO has raised around 465,000 euros ($582,682) in donations and award money

Amount of trash: 400 tons of rubbish, including 25,000 plastic bottles, 7,900 old tires and 3,300 glass bottles to be used to build walls

In most countries, old tires, glass remnants and plastic bottles end up in the trash. But thanks to the non-governmental organization “Long Way Home,” in Guatemala that rubbish is used to build entire homes. In the small city of San Juan Comalapa tucked in the mountains, the NGO is working with volunteers to build an entire school complex that includes a vocational school. Now, even the youngest of students are learning a new approach to trash recycling and the value of building energy self-sufficient houses. Since 2008, every single piece of rubbish generated by the Long Way Home founder Matt Paneitz and his team has been recycled or composted.

A film by Carmen Meyer

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