A house being built with discarded plastic bottles in the northern border district of Lalmonirhat might be the first of its kind in the country.
Packed with sand and bound with mortar, the bottles lie on their sides, one on top of the other, their round and square bottoms creating colourful patterns on the exterior while the caps dot the interior.
Curious people from nearby areas are crowding Nawdabash village of Chadrapur union every day to catch a glimpse of the visual spectacle.
“It is a wonder...We feel proud to have the country's first environment-friendly house made of plastic bottles here,” said 75-year-old Yakub Ali, a resident of the village which is home to some 50 families.
Jalal Uddin, one of the project's four masons with 25 years of experience behind him, said he had never used such an unconventional construction material.
The couple building the house quit teaching environmental science at Shaikh Burhanuddin Post Graduate College early this year.
In their early 30s, they left Dhaka with their two children Rafidul Alam, 6, and Asfidul Alam, 1, for a habitat sans pollution.
Rashedul Islam said the four-decimal land he inherited in Kaliganj upazila, some 350 kilometres away from the capital, seemed ideal for realising his wife Asma Khatun's environmentally-friendly idea of recycling bottles.
Around 80,000 one-litre, half-litre and 250-millilitre bottles have been used till date in the construction, which began two and a half months ago, all of which were sourced from scrap collectors for Tk 60,000, he said.
Rashedul said the construction also required 150 cement bags, costing Tk 62,000, and six truckloads of sand, costing Tk 7,000. It will take around one more month to construct the remaining 30 percent of the house, he said.
The 1,700 square feet one-storey house has a floor made of mortar and will have four bedrooms, a drawing room, a kitchen, two bathrooms, a corridor and a veranda along with 11 windows and seven doors.
Asma came up with the design and layout, watching a video on the internet about a similar house in Japan made of plastic.
She had earlier taken up interior designing as a hobby and practised her skills in some projects.
The couple estimates that they would have to spend around Tk 4 lakh in total, a cost-effective alternative taking around a quarter of what a conventional house made of bricks would have required, as per a Public Works Department engineer.
“Plastic bottles pollute the environment," said Asma, adding that the house was durable enough to withstand earthquakes and tornadoes.
She also claimed that the compacted sand was 10 times stronger than bricks, not only making the house "bullet-proof" but also acting as an insulator, keeping room temperatures stable irrespective of the change in weather.
“...it is strong and will last longer,” said the couple, pointing out that refraining from using bricks in one way helped reduce pollution caused by kilns.
“We also plan to grow crops and cultivate fish using organic materials as we will never leave the village,” said Rashedul.