Seven Intriguing Reuses for Recycled Bottles

By Adam Eisman – Contributing Writer
Posted on Sunday 3rd May 2009

In It’s a Wonderful Life, the protagonist George Bailey is offered a lucrative lifeline towards the beginning of the movie that will take care of his financial worries for the rest of his life. In a word, that option was “Plastics!” Well, we’ve gotten over the flexible and omnipresent use of plastics in everything from medical equipment to fabrics, and now it is time to get onboard at the ground level on the next great innovation that will save Americans tons of money, while creating a more sustainable environment. In two words, this innovation is “Recycled Bottles!”

The processes for reusing the wonder material of plastic is getting more and more efficient, and more and more capable of changing the nature of manufacturing. Listed below are the seven most interesting uses of recycled bottles that could help drag us out of our environmental quagmire.

  1. The Beer Bottle Temple - Known for their unbelievable patience, Buddhist monks in Thailand have built an entire temple from used beer bottles. The temple consists of 1 million beer bottles; both green Heineken and brown Chang beer bottles were used to build the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew temple. They even used bottles for the bathroom and crematorium.

  2. Spiral Island - Spiral Island is a floating structure made entirely from plastic bottles. British eco-pioneer Richart Sowa started constructing his own island in 1998, and he did so with nets filled with empty plastic bottles. The nets and bottles were then covered over with plywood, bamboo, and eventually sand to give it that island feel. He also planted plants like mangroves, which help to keep the heat down. The island even has a two-story house with a solar oven, a composting toilet, and three, count ‘em THREE, beaches. The island floated in the Caribbean off the coast of Mexico until Hurricane Emily destroyed it. Mr. Sowa then built Spiral Island II in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.

  3. Beer Bottle Solar Water Heater - A Chinese farmer in the Shaanxi province made a solar array from 66 used beer bottles and some horse piping. As water flows through the device, it is heated by the sun, reportedly delivering enough hot water for three people to shower comfortably, on a daily basis.

  4. Earthships - These homes are built from mud and reused materials, like tires, cans, and bottles. Those who dwell within the natural walls of these domiciles explain that is actually quite comfortable and cozy, and most often beautiful. Going off of geothermal properties, the homes are kept at a pretty constant temperature. And the people living there are often able to produce their own energy by collecting, and recycling their own water, and processing their own waste. These structures have been built since the early 20th century, but are gaining in popularity. Take a look at an Earthship in link: Argentina :link.

  5. Armor Suit - Kosuke Tsumura, who is a designer for the Final Home brand of urban clothing and accessories, constructed a suit of armor from by cutting up plastic bottles and sowing them together with transparent nylon thread.

  6. Dome Roof - The folks over at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), located in Machynlleth, Wales, have been working on new and exciting technology for a while now. At their compound that have created a dome roof that is constructed solely of used bottles.

  7. A Frickin’ Boat - Not only did the obscenely wealthy David de Rothschild construct a sailboat entirely from used bottles, but he plans to sail that sucker half way around the globe. With the launching of the Plastiki Expedition in April, in order to raise awareness for recycling, waste and consumption, de Rothschild and a team of scientists and explorers will attempt to sail from San Francisco to Australia, a staggering 11,000 miles, on a 60-foot catamaran made from recycled bottles. The boat will be equipped with two wind turbines, along with solar panels to power the electric equipment.

The wide world of plastic has now become more exotic, with innovation and the determination to do something no one else has ever done. Will you be the next great plastic bottle reuser?

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