People living in Karachi, Pakistan generate 12,000 metric tons of trash every day. To deal with the issue, many burn the garbage, which comes with a slew of environmental and health hazards. Nargis Latif, a local environmentalist, decided to do something about the burgeoning plastic waste in particular, transforming it into bricks that can be used to build homes “in just a matter of hours.”
Latif started the organization Gul Bahao, the “Pakistan’s first research center on waste management,” according to its website. Chandi ghar, or homes made from the recycled plastic bricks, are one of Gul Bahao’s innovations. According to the website, they have also worked on “instant compost,” a mobile toilet, and a method to purify water.
The plastic utilized in chandi ghar are mainly food wrappers discarded by factories often because of printing issues. Latif said while some shy away from the idea of living in houses made of waste, the trash she utilizes is clean. The homes are low cost as well: Gul Bahao receives 300 to 400 rupees per square foot (that’s about $2.90 to $3.80).
To build a chandi ghar, strips of recycled plastic are put into a “thermopore shell” which is tied together to form the bricks. The bricks are then attached to wooden pillars to rapidly construct homes. Latif said in a video the homes are “modular” and “weatherproof,” and a two story house can be erected in just four to five hours.
After an earthquake in 2005, chandi ghar were constructed as shelters for those who had lost homes. They’ve also been set up for families of patients at a hospital in the poor district of Tharparkar. Latif said the chandi ghar could also be beneficial for nomads who have traditionally lived in mud shelters. Residents of chandi ghars aren’t as susceptible to diseases they can be exposed to while living in mud shelters.
Latif told Al Jazeera since 2005, over 150 chandi ghar have been built in Pakistan. She said, “You can make beautiful structures using rejected material…If you make such bricks, it’s bye-bye to pollution, climate change, and the melting glaciers. Because you’ve stopped burning garbage and plastic.”
Via Al Jazeera
Images via Gul Bahao