In 2012, Roberts Bezeau participated in a study of garbage on the Panamese island of Colón, where he lives. A crew of 15 people opened 60,000 garbage bags and sorted out the contents. By far the biggest pile was the one with discarded plastic bottles. “It just kept on growing”.
After the 6-month study was over, Robert and his companions kept collecting discarded plastic bottles. A year later, the pile contained a million of them and the question what to do with them was becoming urgent. Burning them or burying them was out of the question. Robert conceived of a plan to turn them into a floating island, but abandoned the plan when he realized that he might be blamed for every loose bottle floating in the surrounding ocean.
Then he had a dream in which he was building houses out of them. He started on the realization of that dream as soon as he woke up – with some amazing results, as you can hear in the interview below.
The bottles are enmeshed in rebar cages (“Time to put them in jail”, says Robert) that are assembled Lego-style into walls. He has now built three houses that way, the beginnings of an entire village planned to have 49 residential and commercial buildings: the Plastic Bottle Village.
He is also working on a 4-story castle, named “Inspiration”, intended to accomodate guests who come to view and support the project. Robert hopes to raise enough funds to build a school even this year to impart his techniques, especially to students from non-industrialized countries.
Apart from the recycling aspect, Robert’s bottle walls turned out to have an unexpected property that is of particular interest to our sun-baked community: their amazing insulation capacity, holding the inside temperature down some 35º F from the outside temperature.