Bottle Wall

Many PCVs and community members struggle with what to do about the trash we accumulate. Some burn it all, hike it out of site, throw it into the monte or river, or carry it in a saco to the community trash pit. Trash management is extremely difficult in the campo as there is no governmental system set in place to assist in its removal. A lack of education about pollution, the water cycle, respiratory health, mosquito-transmitted diseases and recycling also hinder positive solutions.
When I first arrived to Renacimiento, I was inspired by a nearby volunteer (Chinuare; Alex) to stuff my trash into plastic bottles. She would rip up the plastics and stuff them tightly into each bottle. After a bit of research online, I found out that these “eco-bricks” are actually catching on around the world! After filling up plastic bottles, they can then be used as cinder blocks in creating walls for gardens, houses, schools and even hotels. There is a Plastic Bottle Village on Bocas Island, which will soon be a fully-functioning hotel.
To make a wall with concrete, rebar stakes must be strategically placed in between wooden posts and secured horizontally with fine wire and chicken wire. Each bottle should then be secured to the chicken wire with fine wire, stacking one on top of the other. In my case, I stopped here as I did not have any cement or sand to create a solid wall. This is still totally fine if you don’t mind curious community members peeking at the trash inside your bottles. To pursue a concrete wall, place another layer of chicken wire on the open side of the bottle wall and secure tightly. It should be a plastic bottle sandwich :). Then begin slopping on cement, being sure to get inside the crevices. For more information on creating solid walls, check out blogs related to plastic bottle “eco-bricks” and Bocas del Toro Plastic Bottle Village.
This method of trash management has been a wonderful platform to discuss recycling and health with the community. As opposed to holding a formal meeting, individuals that are interested in the topic can check out the bottles and ask questions. They seem to like the garden bottle wall, although kiddos keep taking the caps off to play with them. This can create an issue if water enters and mosquitos breed. A tip: glue the cap onto the bottle with a bit of PVC glue. How do you and your community members manage trash in the community?

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