Over the past few months, Quintana Roo's coast has been overtaken by an invasion of seaweed that has put the locals to work cleaning up the beaches as the weeds wash ashore. The work is an exhausting day-to-day ordeal and while the cause of the invasion is still unknown, many point to the changes in climate impacting the Atlantic Ocean.
Currently, over 60 tons of seaweed has been gathered from the coast and locals are already putting the plants to good use as raw materials for biodigestors, cosmetics, plastics, fertilizers, and pharmaceuticals. However, another use for seaweed has recently come to the public's attention.
Omar Vázquez Sánchez, the founder of Blue-Green in Puerto Morelos has debuted a house constructed in 15 days with seaweed being the primary building material. Vazquez Sanchez said the idea came to him 6 years ago when he noticed the cyclical presence of the plants on the coast. By mixing adobe with seaweed, he was able to create a building material able to withstand everything from earthquakes to hurricane force winds, as proven by tests done by UNAM. The house features two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom, and required 50 percent fewer materials than the standard social housing unit, not counting the dwelling's thermal aspects.
The principal objective of the house is to give lower-income people a chance to have their own home. We've approached both private and government institutions, as well as NGOs so that they can join the cause to benefit the families living in marginalized areas.
- Omar Vázquez Sánchez.
This transformation of a natural phenomenon into something good for the community has sparked the interest of various corporations and construction companies, who have gotten to work in scaling up the project as a way to provide for future sustainable housing developments. Without a doubt, this is a great way to continue studying how a natural phenomenon can contribute to the very places and people that they impact without damaging the environment. Omar Vazquez Sanchez's project is further proof of Mexican ingenuity in the face of hardship.