Bottle schools are built using tried and tested post and beam construction. The foundations, columns and beams are made from concrete reinforced with iron. The difference with traditional construction is that instead of cinder-blocks or bricks, the walls are made using “eco-bricks”.
Since October 2009, Hug It Forward has empowered 68 communities in Guatemala and two in El Salvador to build their own bottle school.
To make “eco-bricks”, children in the village collect inorganic trash such as plastic bags, chip packets and polystyrene and stuff them into plastic bottles until they are hard like bricks. The eco-bricks are sandwiched in between chicken wire, and covered with cement to form the walls of the school.
It takes around 6,500 eco-bricks to build a two-classroom school. This means that everybody in the community has to participate in order to turn the dream of a bottle school into reality. The entire community has ownership because they build the bottle school with their own hands. Kids of all ages will be able to say something that no child in a developed country can say: “I built my school.”
Because bottle schools are built using upcycled trash and volunteer labor, they are much cheaper than traditional cinder-block schools, costing an average of $6,500 per classroom. Bottle schools empower communities to come together, creating an educational future for their communities, their children and their children’s children.