Meet Hug It Forward: a not-for-profit that has dedicated itself to building schools in communities in need of them all around Guatemala through the innovative use of materials that exist in abundance, and even better, are inexpensive and accessible: plastic bottles and inorganic trash. Their model is similar to that of the Bottle School Project Illac Diaz pioneered in the Philippines, but is approached in a slightly different way.
Rather than being filled with adobe, as was the case in Illac Diaz’s schools, the bottles are filled with inorganic trash found in around the communities, which serve as insulation when the walls to up. The bottles then lined up and held together between layers of chicken wire attached to a metal frame. Other materials, like wood beams are used as the support frames for the classrooms, and concrete walls layered on over top.
Since the projects started in 2009, Hug It Forward has worked with communities around Guatemala to complete fifteen schools, with two more underway and ten more needing funding. In each project, whole communities have gotten involved – from collecting and stuffing the bottles, to building and putting up the infrastructure. Their first bottle school project used up over 5,000 plastic bottles and over 2,050 pounds of trash to build two classooms that now houses 297 children and youth attending the school.
The next trip leaves in a few days on February 7th, which may be too soon, but there are also two trips leaving in March on the 2nd and 24th. Their booking site also stays current with upcoming trips.