Reimagining Waste: 4Walls International

Walls attributes their success to community partnerships, volunteer engagement and lots and lots of trash

Can you imagine that the 60 million plastic bottles of trash we throw away every day could actually create jobs or clean the air we breathe? For San Diego-based environmental organization, 4Walls International, the world is littered with opportunity to do just that. The non-profit, founded in 2009, takes trash and transforms it into building materials for community gathering places, and even housing. Benches and other structures are made with “bottle bricks” – trash-stuffed plastic bottles – which act as a base for the construction. They are literally building healthier communities one plastic bottle at a time.

Trash to treasure

4Walls attributes their success to community partnerships, volunteer engagement and lots and lots of trash! Last year, through SDG&E’s Environmental Champions giving initiative, we supported an innovative project that transformed two empty lots in Imperial Beach into thriving, multi-use community gathering spaces, which utilize a majority of recyclable and sustainable materials, native air-purifying plants and local art.

Clean air, clean water

By “sourcing” the trash from the degraded Tijuana River Valley, volunteers were simultaneously improving water quality while creating a community gathering place. Trash bottles were also sourced from San Diego elementary schools, creating an educational component in which students learned about the perils of plastic.

Additionally, these new community spaces are filled with native plants that help to sequester carbon from our environment, helping to clean the air we breathe. As an added benefit, the project also involved building raised vegetable beds at the nearby elementary school in Imperial Beach offering families the opportunity to grow their own produce.

Could Your Organization be an Environmental Champion?

Organizations that provide environmental programs that help us build healthier communities can apply for a grant up to $25,000 through our Environmental Champions giving initiative. Click here to submit an application by April 17, 2017.