Float On

Home is where the heart is and for Luiz Bispo, that’s in a floating house made of recycled materials on a polluted channel in a Rio de Janiero slum.

At first the government was not at all thrilled with Bispo’s construction because according to Marilene Ramos, the head of the Rio state rivers and lakes authority, they thought that the house would just clog the river.

But passersby would slow down to take snapshots of his structure, which is kept afloat with plastic bottles. The result of the house’s popularity was a collaborative project with the new environment secretary, Carlos Minc. According to a Reuters article: 

"They were threatening to evict me and all of a sudden I'm recognised by the state government and called to be an environmental educator. They want to organise regular visits to my house," said Bispo.

The building, made of concrete and dumped construction materials and filled with reused furniture, will be visited by school groups, thanks to a new idea hatched by Minc. The house will be connected to a filter that stops garbage from moving farther along the already dirty channel. When children come to see how the stream is being cleaned up, they will also see the recycled house.

"His demonstrative project has synergy with our ecological barrier, which gets many visits, particularly from schools. It can be part of environmental education support," Ramos said.

Field trips could help bring attention to the environmental problems of the more than 600 slums in Rio, which could be help the government contribute more time and funding to cleaning up the polluted areas. Bispo’s house makes him an unlikely activist for the environment:

"I completely agree that we've turned this water into a latrine and it's time to wake up and do something about it."

If only everybody could turn garbage into an environmental attraction.


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