Schools Made Out Of Plastic Bottles

Bottle schools are schools built from “waste” plastic soda bottles & other inorganic trash. Entire communities work together, young & old, to make the dream of education reality.

A non-profit organization called Hug It Forward is the catalyst uniting these communities in Guatemala where  kids are being taught environmental education and adults learn different types of skilled labor. The result is a wonderful facility, which is a symbol of unity, to educate present and future generations. So far, 10 bottle schools have been built around Guatemala.


The first project in Granados, Guatemala, over 5,000 plastic bottles were used to build two classrooms, containing 2053lbs of trash and using 9720lbs of cement. 297 children and youth currently attend the school, which serves a municipality of 13,860 people throughout 95.75 square miles.

By building with “waste” materials, leveraging the volunteer labor of the community, and by ensuring that 100% of donations are spent on projects (no money is taken for overhead or salaries), Hug It Forward can build a two-classroom school for around $12,000.

Libraries: A Call for Innovation

The question is not if libraries will exist throughout the digital age, it’s how will they re-invent themselves.

Libraries cannot survive as community-funded hubs for thousands of books that are never checked out by its patrons. Moreover, expensive reference materials that libraries invest tons of dollars on are now free online and conveniently available for anyone to peruse. Many libraries claim that their number one thing that they deliver to its customers are free DVD rentals…not a good long-term strategy to build upon.

Now that people are going online for the same information provided by their local libraries, it’s time to shake things up. There are a few examples of libraries that are creatively positioning themselves into the digital age as an attempt to salvage their sense of community.

Lets look at the City of Baltimore. The Health Department has recently launched the Virtual Supermarket Project. They chose two neighborhoods in East Baltimore and Washington Village that they dubbed as “Food deserts”, or areas without access to healthy food options. Teaming up the Enoch Pratt Free Library (with branches in both neighborhoods) and Santoni’s Super Market, they now have given local residents easy access to healthier food options at a fair price.

Residents simply go into the library and order their groceries online using the libraries computers. They will receive a printout of their order and pay at the time of ordering. Then they come back the next day to pick up their order with the Baltimore City Health Department subsidizing the delivery charge.

This system benefits the consumer because a wider selection of high quality fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy is made available in the neighborhood than is offered by local corner stores. Pooling purchases for delivery at one convenient site allows consumers to avoid the delivery fee and the requirement that a certain amount of money be spent for the order to be delivered. Also, consumers do not have to navigate public transportation to get to the grocery store, nor will they have to manage hectic schedules and childcare to dedicate time to grocery shopping. From the mayor himself:

“This program will make these neighborhoods stronger and healthier, allowing residents the same access to full-service, competitively priced grocery stores that much of the rest of the city enjoys,” -Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Other examples of libraries who are shaking things up:

The Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, in North Carolina, has a multimedia space where kids shoot videos and record music. It also runs a blog dedicated to gaming and hosts video game tournaments regualarily.

The Aarhus Public Library in Aarhus, Denmark, takes things a step further.

The library features an “info column,” where people share digital news stories; an “info galleria” where patrons explore digital maps layered with factoids; a digital floor that lets people immerse themselves in information; and RFID-tagged book phones that kids point at specific books to hear a story.

Virtual Supermarket Project

Green Marketing in a Struggling Economy

So you want to help the environment by being more eco-friendly and increasing your green efforts, but think that it is too expensive? Many people wonder if they should cut back on green marketing and their green efforts in a struggling economy, but in fact you should do quite the opposite. I read in the September issue of Deliver, a marketing magazine, that it is actually a “hook to getting through them”. They say that green marketing improves your efficiencies, increases customer loyalty, and differentiates your brand.

Wal-Mart-Eco-Friendly-EffortsTake for instance, Wal-Mart’s green efforts. Wal-Mart’s “Earth Month” green marketing efforts included print ads for 10 different green products under $10 and “rollbacks” on environmentally-friendly products. Customers are looking for ways to save money in a tough economy, and Wal-Mart is helping them do that, while still having a positive environmental effect.

Eco-Friendly-Efforts-SunChips-Solar-EnergyGreen marketing also increases customer loyalty. Frito-Lay’s SunChips brand gained customers by showing them that green is both good for them and the environment. They started this marketing plan after seeing market research from 2006 that showed that people who care about their personal health also care about the planet. SunChips have 18 grams of whole grain and zero trans fat. Since these chips are healthier than regular potato chips, their campaigns played off this, their nature-related name, and their sustainability investments, which includesEco-Friendly-Efforts-SunChips-Compostable-Bag producing a compostable bag. They promoted their compostable bags with an online video showing them decompose, as well as print ads that included a tear-off sample for consumers to test it out themselves in their compost piles. Green marketing helped SunChips become one of the fastest-growing snack brands at Frito-Lay.

Eco-friendly-Efforts-Innovation-Thinking-Ideas-EnvironmentGreen marketing, done correctly, also differentiates your brand from the competition. IBM took a different route by connecting with the community in their green efforts. Their Smarter Planet initiative used direct mail to encourage individuals, businesses, and institutions to change the way they work. They also started a series of jams, or brainstorming sessions, that bring people from around the world together to solve an issue. Their “Congestion Challenge” collects innovative ideas to fight transportation congestion, and the winner receives $50,000, as well as the development and implementation support for the idea.