A Bolivian Entrepreneur Turns Plastic Bottles into Affordable Housing - Gauthereau Group

In one year, the production of plastic bottles requires millions of barrels of oil, according to The Earth Policy Institute. The transportation of bottled water from its source to stores releases thousands of tons of carbon dioxide and Americans alone purchase 29 billion bottles of water per year, the production of which requires 17 million barrels of crude oil. The recycling rate for those 29 billion bottles of water is only 13 percent. Quite daunting if you consider that it takes centuries (!) for plastic bottles to decompose. Luckily, Ingrid Vaca Diez, a Bolivian entrepreneur and architect, has come up with an amazing idea to solve one of her nation’s most pressing issues (as well as a problem that could ultimately benefit the planet). With more than 40 percent of the Bolivian population living below the poverty level, and the government incapable of providing affordable and livable homes to everyone in need, Diez turned empty plastic bottles into inexpensive housing.

Diez says she drew inspiration for the project from two sources: a letter she received from a school girl who asked the architect to help build a bigger home for her family, and from Diez’s husband who scolded Diez for her collection of empty bottles by telling her that she had enough to “build a house.”

This type of innovation is just breathtaking. Using only recycled products and natural elements, Diez has singlehandedly solved an issue humanity has struggled with since the dawn of time: finding shelter. Thanks to her design, there’s no telling how many people will ultimately be able to rest their heads under a proper roof at night. As of today, Diez has built ten homes, including ones in Argentina, Mexico and Uruguay.

As entrepreneurs, we all hope that our creations will ultimately be deemed useful and beneficial to society. We strive to make our impact on the world by combining creativity with hard work. Today, more often than not, technology enables us to make these creations possible. My highest level of respect goes to Diez for finding a simple, inexpensive and ingenius way to make homes out of recycled products.