|Alfredo Santa Cruz in front of his home|
I got a tour of this house with the incredible man that built it: Alfredo Santa Cruz. I learned a lot on the tour, but most importantly, I discovered that this eco-friendly house is a prime example of how creativity and innovation can help save our planet while providing people a better future. And the story behind the house is as rich as the house itself:
A depressed father, living in complete poverty, hit is life-time low when his daughter asked for a dollhouse. Penniless and without the skills to build one, he lamented on his inability to provide for his family. Literally living in trash, he saw bottles leaning on each other and an idea hit him.The innovation is fantastic - saving the planet while lifting people out of poverty - I can't imagine a better business. I spoke with the man behind this amazing initiative and his parting words were this:
Six months later after collecting enough materials and inventing new tools and methods, he built a small dollhouse out of waste. He kept turning to trash into items around the dollhouse, and finally built an entire house using the same techniques. Relative fame and richness soon followed, and with it rose an attitude not of exclusivity, but of global citizenship. Instead of patenting and selling his methods and tools, he instead hosts free classes and travels to teach others in poverty these same techniques so they can create sellable goods and livable homes from trash.
Children in front of playhouse
'Todo es posible, solo depende de su imaginacion'
'Everything is possible, it only depends on your imagination'
I can't stop thinking about my tour of this home with the founder... and this is why: We've all heard of 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle", but I wonder how many of us truly embrace it. Sure, the majority of the first world recycles, but I can't help but think that, in a way, the act of recycling serves as an act of redemption. A simple gesture that seemingly alleviates us of the burden we are on this planet through our consumer-based cultures.
Meanwhile, the other corners of the triangle 'Reduce' and 'Reuse", although significantly more beneficial to the environment than recycling, aren't nearly as popular. Perhaps this is because recycling is an actual action that makes us feel better, while 'reducing' lacks any tangible action... I liken it to the act of asking forgiveness through prayer: It's easier to sin and ask for redemption then to not sin in the first place. Whatever the reason, its important to consider how we can better care for our planet, so I leave you with a couple questions:
If a man with nothing can lift himself out of abject poverty by re-using, what can you do?
And if the future of a greener and healthier planet for our kids depends on us using less natural resources and less energy, what can you reduce?