Produce No Waste: Bustan Qaraaqa’s bottle walls

© bustan qaraaqa

Look at this amazing bottle wall work by the crew at Bustan Qaraaqa in Jerusalem. Now these are folk who know how to make a feature of the waste they produce. Their bottle walls represent the entire through-put of bottles at their permaculture site.

On a remote farm such as ours, there is no rubbish collection. What you bring in, you must ship out, unless you can use it on the farm, or compost it. This arrangement means that we are very connected to how much waste we produce. At Bustan Qaaraqa in Gaza, they clearly have the same situation.

© bustan qaraaqa

© bustan qaraaqa

© bustan qaraaqa

© bustan qaraaqa

© bustan qaraaqa

At Milkwood Farm, one of the waste items that gets me most is bottles. We’re in a region famous for its organic wine, we have many guests and fire side get-togethers through a season. But the empty bottles accumulated the next morning are heavy! And sometime i breathe a sigh, thinking of the weight of the next monthly ‘dump run’.

A ‘dump run’ at Milkwood means loading up a truck with barrels of plastics, glass and landfill, and shlepping it 20 minutes down the road to the Windeyer wast transfer station (i.e. the Dump). You do get an icecream when you do a dump run, but I’d still rather minimize the waste we had to take.

When we first got here we kept EVERYTHING. We might need it one day. Maybe we could make it into something. But over time the piles grew and grew, and the spare time to initiate funky plastic bottle greenhouse projects or bottle walls began to contract.

So now we’ve shifted approaches to trying to minimise bringing in anything that needs to go back out. And it’s kindof working! Apart from the bottles. There’s always lots of bottles…

Which is why, apart from the raw beauty of these structures, I’m so tickled by Bustan Qaaraqa’s approach to their consumption. Making your outputs physically visible makes you consider your intakes in a way that graphs and stats just cannot do.

© bustan qaraaqa

© bustan qaraaqa

© bustan qaraaqa

So as David Holmgren said, aim to Produce No Waste. And if you do, make sure you make something beautiful out of it that you can consider when you sit down at the end of the day, having poured yourself a beverage from a glass bottle.

Bustan Qaraaqa is a non-profit sustainable living initiative which aims to empower local people by establishing an active grassroots environmental movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Volunteers and donations very welcome.

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  1. Posted November 3, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink | Reply

    Wow, thats alot of bottles!!! We also have no rubbish collection. We are working or reducing our waste going to landfill. A big thing for us has been milking our own animals, to avoid buying milk in cartons/bottles.

  2. Posted November 4, 2011 at 5:34 am | Permalink | Reply

    North Bay Ontario, Canada, just near the top of the Hill, close to the Bomarc Missile Base, a similar “Bottle House”. Hopefully someone has recorded the history of this. my questions: Survive Canadian frosts? R-ratings – was it warm? Cost: Was it cheap to build? Does it survive today? It was a sort of tourist attraction when I was a boy, some fifty years ago. I still wonder.

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