They say necessity is the mother of invention, and that’s certainly true in the case of Oscar Mendez. Mendez looked around and saw two major crises cluttering up the street and putting people in danger: homelessness and litter. So he came up with a solution for both, one worthy of a fairy tale.
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He’s now building homes for the homeless out of discarded plastic. The idea has been tried before (the CEDO institute in Mexico has a frame of tin cans and tires with plaster over them). But it’s never been done to this scale.
To bring this novel idea to life, Mendez founded the Colombian enterprise: Concept Plastics. The process is shockingly simple, melting down plastic and molding them into LEGO style bricks. And as any kindergartner can tell you, LEGOs make great houses.
The resulting homes are low cost, high quality houses for the homeless. It only takes four days for five people to make an over four hundred square foot house. Compared to more intense and costly procedures, this is a more than a manageable idea.
The environmental and economic benefits to cheap, cleaner-than-green housing are apparent. But as important are the social effects.
While a precise number is hard to pin down, Colombia’s homeless problem is near epidemic, with some estimating nearly half the country is without a home. The social impact of something like Concept Plastic can’t be discounted. Mendez refers to the effects on social, environmental, and economic problems as the programs “Triple Impact.”
So far they’ve built around sixteen thousand square feet of homes, and reused over 300 tons of plastic. The result has been helping communities and the environment healthier and happier. An inspiring story, with most of the internet agreeing, with over three hundred thousand people on Facebook spreading the video around.
Mendez aims eventually to go global with his project. Here’s hoping he gets there!