It’s National Beer Day today.
Most drinkers are more interested in beer than the containers that hold it, but there was an effort in the 1960s to turn those containers into something very useful.
This is the story of the effort to build houses out of used Heineken bottles.
And it starts with beer magnate Alfred Heineken himself.
While on a trip through the Caribbean, he saw piles and piles of trash, including old beer bottles.
In his home country, the Netherlands, bottles of his company’s beer could be reused dozens of times.
But not here – so he started thinking about how to make the bottles more useful, so that instead of being tossed out as litter once they were empty, they might get reused right away.
Heineken and architect John Habraken designed the WOBO, short for “world bottle.”
It had two flat sides because it was meant to be stacked.
Heineken thought WOBOs could be used like bricks to build walls for sturdy but inexpensive housing in low-income countries.
In 1964, the company produced 100,000 of the new bottles.
Alfred Heineken used some of them to build a little garden house on his own property.
But Heineken’s marketing people weren’t so excited.
They worried that people might build a house and then try to sue the company if one of their beer bottle walls broke.
And that’s about as far as the dream of houses built from Heineken bottles went.
But these days we see projects all over the world where people are upcycling and reusing materials that used to be thrown away to build all kinds of useful things, including houses and shelters.
We can all drink to that.
It’s beer day every day at a spot in Taunton, Massachusetts.
The Beer Can Museum and Beer Can Hall of Fame are home to thousands of beer cans from all over the world, plus beer can folk art.
They’ve even had cakes that look like coolers full of cold ones.
100,000 Bottles of Beer in the Wall (Cabinet Magazine)
Did Alfred Heineken Invent Bottle To Function as a Brick To Build Houses? (Snopes)
Beer Can Museum & Beer Can Hall of Fame
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Photo by Antonino via Flickr/Creative Commons