A bit of History...
As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala, our founder, Laura Kutner, helped create a youth development program that focused on integrating a life skills curriculum into rural schools. One of the schools she worked in also happened to need new classrooms. One day during recess she realized that a technique she had heard about through the organization Pura Vida Atitlan could be modified to build these exact classrooms using plastic bottles and trash! After proposing the idea to the community, that is exactly
Soon the streets of Granados were much cleaner as the entire community worked together to stuff more than 6,000 bottles full of trash to build the walls of their new classrooms. Towards the end of the project, the non-governmental organization Hug it Forward stepped in to help finance the rest of the cement, doors, and windows that were necessary. As a result, a wonderful partnership was born. Hug it Forward is now working on their 16th bottle school in Guatemala!
Not long after the bottle school was complete, Tropical Storm Agatha surprised Guatemala with its strength and endurance. Many villages flooded, homes were destroyed, and worst of all, some lives were lost. In San Miguel Duenas, the second village where Laura lived, the flooding was made demonstrably worse because thousands of plastic bottles were dragged by the river to the foot of the bridge that led into the town, creating a giant plug. The community was shocked to see that trash had created such a disaster.
The storm was a reminder to Laura that - although much great work had been done with the bottle classrooms, there was much work still to be done. When she returned to the United States, she wanted to continue sharing this story and teaching the lessons learned from it, by finding creative and innovate ways of encouraging people to incorporate the values of reducing and reusing into their lives, and to see waste as a resource for positive change. She loves working with communities to teach them how to turn their trash into peace, sharing these ideas and experiences through creative construction. It was in this way that Trash for Peace (TfP) was born, and the incredible people and communities that become involved and volunteer their time and energy are what make this organization flourish.
Is there a young one in your life who might be inspired by our story?! Pick up a copy of "The Soda Bottle School: A True Story of Recycling, Teamwork, and One Crazy Idea," available on Amazon.
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