Hug It Forward is a US-based non-profit. Since October 2009, Hug It Forward has been empowering communities in Guatemala to build “bottle schools”. 68 bottle schools have been completed at an average cost of just $6,500 per classroom, and more school-building projects are under way.
Bottle schools are schools built out of plastic soda bottles stuffed with inorganic trash. Thousands of bottles are collected and stuffed full of inorganic trash such as plastic bags, chip packets and polystyrene to make “eco-bricks”.
Re-using plastic “waste” to build the schools achieves some very important goals: building a school cheaply and efficiently; cleaning the community of trash; and educating youth about recycling and the environmental impact of our non-biodegradable waste – in the community, in the entire region that the school is being built in, and also in the “developed” countries such as the USA where bottle schools have had a lot of publicity and media attention.
The entire village participates in building a bottle school: kids picking bottles and trash to fill them; parents donating their time by volunteering on the construction site. They have real ownership because they built their school with their own hands: nobody built it for them.
Proceeds from bottle school voluntourism trips help to support Hug It Forward’s running costs. We also ask trip participants to fundraise for bottle schools as part of the preparation for coming on a trip.
Bottle schools have been built all across Guatemala, with a focus on poorer, isolated, rural areas several hours from the nearest paved road. Hug It Forward would like to see more bottle schools being built, wherever there is a need. They have created a “Bottle School Manual” which explains how to build a bottle school, step by step. Using this Bottle School Manual, a bottle school was completed in El Salvador in May 2012.
To find out more information about bottle schools, please vist www.hugitforward.org