Building a toxic free, sustainable home for low-income families. The house is free of toxic materials like PVC, the wood is from sustainable forests and the construction is solar powered.
Polluting building products like PVC plastic (Vinyl) are
promoted byindustry as low cost solutions for housing. However PVC
is the mostenvironmentally damaging of all plastics. There are
alternatives to PVCplastic and other harmful materials and building
processes. GreenpeaceUSA has teamed up with Habitat for Humanity
and other groups to helpcreate a project that shows first-hand a
low-cost solution to PVC inhome building. We are building a house
that is both PVC-free andreplicable for low-income families. Among
other green features the homeis free of toxic materials, contains
sustainable wood and theconstruction site is solar powered.
Habitat for Humanity builds low cost housing for families on
lowincomes. Shylia and her four children will be the happy new
owners of ahome that is a healthy environment to raise her family
in. Volunteersfrom Greenpeace, other organisations and local
students are allpitching in to lend a hand in the construction
project. Their effortsare being documented on a weblog
diary of the project.
The first few days involved a
crash course in constructionfor the keen, but maybe slightly
novice, builders from constructionmanager Valerie "Miss T" Smith
and construction supervisor Billy "TheCowboy" Pucket. Apparently
"flushing" isn't just something you do to atoilet, "stud" is not
just a hot guy and "toenail" isn't just a part ofyour body.
The hot weather meant frequent breaks for the volunteers but
Greenpeace rolling sunlight vehicleto power the construction
site. The two meter solar panels have beenproviding clean juice for
the variety of power tools such as the giantelectrical
The house will be finished towards the end of April. This
project isespecially relevant as the industrial corridor stretching
from BatonRouge south to New Orleans along the Mississippi River,
commonly knownas "Cancer Alley," is home to more than 140
petrochemical producers andusers. This is one of the highest
concentration of manufacturers, usersand emitters of toxic
chemicals in the US. Many of these plants are themost polluting
types in the world - PVC production facilities. Nolonger is this
the romanticised waterway that Mark Twain popularised in'The
Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn'.
Many of these PVC plants and old dumpsites are located in
poorcommunities, most often in communities of colour. People living
next tothese facilities are experiencing illnesses that they
directlyattribute to toxic air and water emissions. In some cases,
entirecommunities have been literally wiped off the map.
While Shylia and her children can't wait for the house to
befinished not everyone is so happy. The Vinyl Institute, the
tradeassociation of vinyl manufacturers, wrote to Habitat for
HumanityInternational in February, criticizing the New Orleans
affiliate forworking with Greenpeace on this project. Why? Well,
rather than addressthe pollution caused by PVC manufacture and the
problems caused inlocal communities, the institute's members prefer
the easy option ofdonating the same poison plastic to the very
people who suffer from thepollution.
the Vinyl Institute decided to
pay the project a surprise visitin the shape of Jim Kosinski.
Rick, our toxic campaigner, noticed Jimwondering around the site
taking pictures. Being the friendly, curiousguy he is, Rick
approached our unannounced guest to find out what hewas doing.
After a gentle inquisition our guest turn out to be aproject
manager from the Vinyl Institute who apparently was "just inthe
neighbourhood" and "curious" to drop in on the project.
Never afraid of a healthy debate, Rick invited Jim to join a
pressconference to give the industry view on PVC. But unfortunately
Jim "hada plane to catch".
The only way to end the production of this poison plastic is to
showthat practical affordable alternatives exist. Shylia's home
istestament to that fact; let's ensure it is the first of many.
Convinced? Find alternatives to PVC in
buildings in our global alternatives database.
where PVC may be found in your home.
Detailed info on PVC.