SEATTLE, Washington — As technology continues to develop, it can often make the everyday lives of individuals more convenient. One convenience that millions enjoy is single-use bottles and cans. Regardless of the beverage, there always seems to be an easy-to-grab bottled or canned version. In fact, data shows that one million plastic bottles are bought around the world per minute. What happens after they people finish using these bottles. Most assume that the bottles are recycled or disposed of by waste management; however, there are some organizations that have invented more creative ways to remove plastic bottles. Hug It Forward is a grassroots organization based in Guatemala that uses eco-bricks made of plastic bottles to build classrooms and give hope to citizens in Latin America.
What is Hug It Forward?
Hug It Forward (HIF) is a nonprofit that uses eco-bricks to build classrooms in Latin America. HIF has partnered with many well-known companies such as Google, Kind and Lush Cosmetics, and was even featured in Oprah Winfrey’s magazine, The O, in 2012. Hug It Forward has helped “100 communities in Guatemala and 2 in El Salvador” in its construction of more than 300 classrooms. Each one costs around $7,000 to build.
The eco-bricks used for construction are made from plastic water bottles and other inorganic waste. Materials such as plastic wrappers and bags are placed inside water bottles to give them substance. The bottles are then tied together using metal wires. After all of the bottles are attached, they are layered with a cement and sand mixture to create walls for the classroom.
Hug It Forward relies on donations and sponsorships to fund the building materials, but the organization ultimately rallies the communities to do much of the actual painting and building. Therefore, this organization’s use of eco-bricks to build classrooms simultaneously strengthens community ties and empowers all of those involved.
Why Build Classrooms?
There are around 600 million people in the world that live on $2 dollars or less a day. Seventy-four million of those people live in Latin America, making up 12.4% of the population there. Of those 74 million, more than half are children. There are several causes of poverty in Latin America, such as large income inequality and a lack of educational infrastructure. In 2015, Latin American countries were two and a half years behind the average of other OECD countries.
Additionally, one out of every five people between the ages of 15 and 24 are neither working nor attending school. That means that large numbers of citizens are entering the workforce without adequate education or experience, and are, therefore, unable to make enough money to support themselves. Thus, by building classrooms and focusing on developing educational infrastructure, organizations like Hug It Forward are improving quality of life, empowering community members and helping to eliminate poverty in Latin America at the same time.
Funding the Classrooms
There are several ways that Hug It Forward raises funds to help build its eco-friendly classrooms. Firstly, it relies on sponsorships from companies, organizations and celebrities. For example, HIF has partnered with Lush Cosmetics as a Charity Pot Partner.
In 2007, Lush created the Charity Pot Body Lotion, where all sales were donated to community-based organizations dedicated to maintaining environmental sustainability and community empowerment. Since the product was created, Lush has raised $27 million and funded 1,800 charities. As a Charity Pot Partner, Hug It Forward receives a portion of the sales from the Charity Pot Body Lotion.
Secondly, Hug It Forward relies on individual contributions to fund its operations. Individuals can help by donating to the organization directly online through check or through HIF’s mobile app Connect & Care.
There are millions of people in Latin America suffering from poverty and la ack of education, but through efforts such as those from Hug It Forward, individuals can help to alleviate poverty while promoting hope.
– Tiara Wilson
Photo: Google Images