My buddy Jeff and I recently spent a week volunteering with an organization called Los Tecnicos that is building a number of small, sustainable, off-the-grid houses about an hour outside of Bogota in a town called Choachi.

These homes are constructed with predominately with salvaged and reused materials: tires with dirt pounded inside for the walls, plastic bottles packed with plastic wrappers and other assorted garbage to make bricks, as well as other salvaged goods.

I had never really seen or heard too much about this approach to construction, besides the little bit I heard about from Jeff: years ago he had volunteered with a partner organization called Long Way Home in Guatemala that does a similar sort of thing. So I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect.

The work was certainly tough, but it was an incredibly interesting experience. We worked alongside Guatemalans, Colombians, and gringos from all over the world.

For a better idea of what the experience was like, check out these two short YouTube videos from the project in Choachi:

Los Tecnicos is a consortium of a number of groups doing work in different parts of the world, like 4 Walls International out of Tijuana, Mexico, and Long Way Home out of Comalapa, Guatemala, that have come together for their first project in Colombia.

All the proceeds from this project in Colombia are going to support the Los Tecnicos Education Center in Guatemala which is focused on environmental stewardship and green vocational training among the local population.

The goal of this group is to make affordable housing available for all (these houses apparently cost 1/2 to 1/3 the price of similar homes) as well as creating homes that are off the grid which minimizes their reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels.

No electric bill, no sewer bill, no water bill, and also typically include small greenhouses which provide a year round food supplemental supplies.