Glass, Plastic & Rubber

6:3: i) GLASS
(for building seedlings nurseries, year-round greenhouses; reuse old windows for barns and outhouses or for repairs) (glass bottles as bricks)

Our supply of glass is finite now, as the energy required to make new glass is beyond reach at this point. Old windows salvaged from office towers, apartments and other abandoned buildings can be used to build mini-greenhouses and cold frames, and full-scale year-round greenhouses to extend our growing season (see section 1:4:ii for more). Windows and scrap glass can be used to repair broken windows or to double-insulate homes and greenhouses.

Unbroken glass bottles make excellent bricks with a high insulation index when plugged to trap air inside. Use cement (if available), a mud/straw mixture, or clay to mortar the bottles side-by-side and row-on-row.


Another valuable petroleum byproduct is plastic sheeting. In large pieces it can be used as a single or reinforcing layer in building greenhouses (large or mini) or cold frames. As well it can be covered over crops, elevated off the plants, to extend the growing season by retaining heat and moisture and allowing sunlight through. To help insulate homes in winter it can be covered tightly over windows. Repair tears with scrap pieces of plastic sheeting.

6:3:iii) RUBBER
(old tires for construction, flooring)

Tires are an invaluable resource as these are also a finite material made from petroleum. Save to replace damaged tires on bicycle and cart wheels. With the larger tires from large cars, trucks and buses, which are in abundant supply and no longer needed, these can be used as the basis of rammed-earth buildings and walls where new structures are required. Irreparably damaged tires can be cut into smaller pieces and used as an aggregate to flooring materials such as clay or cement.


Remove all sections and strip off interior walls, shelves and insulation to leave only the metal shell plus doors. Attatch a simple chimney vent and use as a smokehouse for curing meats (see section 1:10:iv).

Remove from the defunct washroom and place outdoors on pavement to use as a planter for growing vegetables. Ideal for grains.

Cut a hole at the top and place under a gutter spout to use as a rain collection barrel. Use as a woodstove by cutting a front-loading door and attaching a chimney (see instructions for building a woodstove out of an oildrum in section 3:2:ii).

May still be used for washing and food preparation. Remove drain and place a greywater collection bucket below the sink, with a cloth or mesh cover for straining out dirt and solids.

Disassemble all electronics and gather all parts for potential use in energy projects. Organize several depots throughout the city for electonics, motors, parts and scraps.

Read the next section, Natural Materials...

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