US (CO): Recycled greenhouse project reaches completion

It’s no secret that the growing season is short and recycling options are limited in the Gunnison Valley. It was at the confluence of these two seemingly unrelated challenges that Ayodeji Oluwalana saw opportunity.

As part of his studies in the Sustainable and Resilient Communities track of the Master of Environmental Management Program at Western State Colorado University, Oluwalana recently completed a 10-foot by 12-foot greenhouse built from clear, plastic bottles that allow light through while at the same time trapping heat.

The intention of the project was to serve as a teaching tool in more ways than one — both showing the potential for re-using a commonly discarded item, as well as a demonstration for anyone interested in building a similar structure.

The concept was born out of Oluwalana’s own experience with poor waste management in his home country of Nigeria. There, due to a lack of effective management practices, bottles are commonly discarded in streets, blocking drainages and leading to floods and erosion.

In the United States, it’s estimated that about 60 million plastic bottles are used daily, and about 38 billion bottles are sent to the landfill each year. To meet the production demand for those vessels, it takes approximately 15-17 million barrels of oil annually — equivalent to the amount of petroleum needed to power 100,000 cars in a single year.

Among the many advantages of re-utilizing plastic bottles to build structures, Oluwalana viewed the project for its ability to improve economic and social conditions — especially in a cold climate.

Read more at the Gunnison Country Times (Will Shoemaker)

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