If you take a bus towards Dakshinkali from the old bus park, after 45 minutes you will come to a place called Khahare. And there is located Nepal’s first bottle house. Bottle house? Yes- bottle house- constructed and preserved by the Kevin Rohan Memorial Eco Foundation. It may seem strange that we can find such one-of-a-kind environmental project here in Nepal.
KRMEF was established in 2008 with the goal of creating a healthy and sustainable environment by using a number of eco-friendly practices for the well being of local communities. So, the goal of the foundation is to create and implement eco-friendly programs in order to promote and encourage sustainable community development.
The bottle house, which is also called a ‘poor man’s dignified house’, was constructed in 2010 as a solution to the outdated and environmentally unfriendly buildings throughout Nepal. It is an environmentally low-impact home designed and built using materials and technology that reduces its carbon footprint and lowers its energy needs. The bottle house uses building methods that are environmentally responsible and resourceful throughout the building’s entire life-cycle: from sitting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and destruction. In other words, bottle house design involves finding the balance between home building and sustainability. The bottle house practice expands and complements classic building designs in terms of economy, utility, durability, and comfort.
Collected from embassies and restaurants in Kathmandu, the unused and degradable glass bottles give the bottle house looks a beautiful look. The bottle walls can be constructed in different ways; typically, they are made on a foundation that is set into a channel in the earth to add stability to the wall. Rebar can be set into the foundation to add structural integrity. Bottle walls range one bottle to two bottles thick. Primitive mixture, such as cob, can be used as workable paste to bind the bottles. It is spread thickly onto the previous layer of bottles, followed by another layer that is pressed into the mixture.
The bottle house is inexpensive to build, as the materials are cheap and easy to collect. Also, because it uses bottles that would otherwise be considered waste, the bottle house can do wonders in terms of waste management. These days, bottles are often thrown into the valley and the riverside after their contents have been used. Besides helping to aid Nepal in its pollution problems, bottle houses can play an important role for poor people who are not able to make their own houses. If a person has even a small piece of land, then they can build own house simply by digging in their own field. The cost of bricks is high here in Nepal, so even buying bottles is still a better option if someone is hesitant of collecting bottles from the street.
The bottle house is environmentally friendly and socially responsible, helping both our people and our land. Apart from the sustainable resources that are used to make these eco-friendly houses, the heating and cooling system installed in the house creates a balanced temperature, and the ventilation system provides clean and fresh air – obviously healthy and environmentally friendly.
The country of Nepal is blessed with massive and diverse resources, and every region has its own specialty. The northern area has some the highest peaks in the world, while on the other hand the southern area is covered with huge flat lands where quality wheat, jute, maize and many other products are produced. In between, there is a middle area which is hilly and is blessed with many of its own natural resources. Unforuntately, as we all know, natural resources are depleting at an alarming rate here in Nepal just as they are in many other developing countries.
To solve this problem, the people of Nepal need to know the importance of our scarce resources, and they also have to be educated as to what they can do to improve the environment. Luckily, the situation is improving in many ways, as many Nepalese have already begun to adapt environmental strategies and have “gone green”.
With more and more industrialization in Nepal, it is important that our people “go green” in order to balance the scale of toxic fumes and chemicals that these industries produce. Whether in Nepal or any other country in the world, it is well known that resources are being depleted everywhere, and it is about time we take charge and keep our environment healthy. It will be better for us and better for the whole world.
Since it began its work, the Kevin Rohan Memorial Eco Foundation has helped to inspire dozens of bottle houses here in Nepal. Beginning as a single bottle house here on the foundation’s land, there are now many just like it across the country. Currently, volunteers and interns come from all over the world to stay at the foundation and help construct these houses. For example, the foundation used the bottle building technique to construct a community library for the local people of Khahare, as well as their Ankuran Waldorf-inspired kindergarten building. The foundation also helped the people of Pharping, 10km away from the foundation, to build a farmer’s school. KRMEF has many other sustainable projects, including producing alternative sources of energy and women’s jewelry workshop focused that uses sustainable soapnuts. For the last few years, many have people become aware of the fact that eco-friendly houses are quite important for our environment. However, there are still many people who are not aware of the benefits of eco-friendly buildings such as the bottle house. Therefore, KRMEF is working to spread the word and raise awareness about how eco-friendly houses such as the bottle house can be beneficial and help our communities in so many different ways.
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