Since 2008 we have been encouraging the local community to collect plastic bottles and fill them with non-degradable trash such as plastic wrappers or plastic bags. These plastic bottles stuffed solid with non-biological waste becomes our ecobricks.
Hacienda Merida pays 15 Cordobas ($ 0.50) for each ecobrick. In addition, coworkers from Hacienda Merida and Ometepe Bilingual School collect their plastic solid waste at home and donate 1 ecobrick per week. Local guides and massage therapists contribute 9 ecobricks each time they organize a tour or a massage at our place! In other words, by getting this service as a guest, you also contribute to our program. Ecobricks are also accepted in exchange for use of the high-speed internet connection at the hotel.
During the last five years we have facilitated the collection of more than 25,000 trash-filled plastic bottles with a total combined weight of ten tons. We use the bottles to construct classrooms, tables, chairs, and other infrastructure for the Ometepe Bilingual School. Our classrooms are a direct result of our plastic reuse program.
In 2013 Ometepe Bilingual School opened its first eco-friendly classroom, built from plastic waste and sustainable earth-bag technology. The earth bags are used as structural columns for the roof and the bottles are used to fill in between the earth bag columns. In 2014, construction was underway on our second classroom building. To date, 6 eco classrooms have been built! In addition, we have constructed tables and chairs for the Hacienda MÃ©rida hotel, for Ometepe Bilingual School and for local public schools.
The re-use of plastic waste serves two purposes. First, it reduces the amount of concrete and other non-sustainable building materials that would otherwise need to be imported to Ometepe at great expense. This prevents plastic solid waste from entering the lake and contaminating the environment. Ometepe has no recycling or trash collection services; local people would otherwise burn the plastic waste or leave it lying on the ground.
Our table and classroom design is open source and available for use by others. Give us a call to find out more about building your own eco building or eco table.