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In Uruguay, A Sustainable School Built With Cans And Tires

Borrowing techniques developed by U.S. architect Michael Reynolds, a group of Uruguayan amateurs turned piles of trash into an innovative and one-of-a-kind education center.

A school that not only uses but also generates electricity
A school that not only uses but also generates electricity
Liliana Carbello

BUENOS AIRES — It's a school in more ways than one, and a dream come true for the many people who planned and then — in a span of just six weeks — helped build the highly unusual structure.

Uruguay, arguably Latin America's most socially and environmentally conscious country, recently completed its first sustainable school building. Located in the coastal district of Jaureguiberry, some 50 miles east of Montevideo, the school was built using "Earthship techniques" developed by U.S. architect Michael Reynolds.

The technique centers around the use of recycled materials, which in this case meant approximately 2,000 used tires, 5,000 glass bottles, 2,000 square meters of cardboard, and 8,000 aluminum cans, all of which were collected by neighbors and a group of some 200 volunteers from 30 different countries. Overall, some 60% of the materials used were recycled.

The 270-square meter building is powered by solar panels and wind turbines. Perhaps best of all, the 45 children who attend classes there receive an environmental education, which includes how to use "waste" and make good use of resources.

The project first started taking shape about five years ago, when a group of friends sought to put into practice the ideas that Reynolds teaches through his Earthship Biotecture Academy, in Taos, New Mexico.

"We didn't know anything about building," says Martín Esposito, a member of TAGMA, the NGO that coordinated the project. "It was an idea as big as planning a trip to the moon."

The group decided to contact Reynolds directly. The "Garbage Warrior," as the U.S. architect is sometimes known, took an immediate interest in the project and even made a trip to Uruguay, just as the school was nearing completion, to help out with some last-minute details.

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food / travel

When Racism Poisons Italy's Culinary Scene

This is the case of chef Mareme Cisse, a black woman, who was called a slur after a couple found out that she was the one who would be preparing their meal.

Photo of Mareme Cisse cooking

Mareme Cisse in the kitchen of Ginger People&Food

Caterina Suffici


TURIN — Guess who's not coming to dinner. It seems like a scene from the American Deep South during the decades of segregation. But this happened in Italy, in this summer of 2023.

Two Italians, in their sixties, got up from the restaurant table and left (without saying goodbye, as the owner points out), when they declared that they didn't want to eat in a restaurant where the chef was what they called: an 'n-word.'

Racists, poor things. And ignorant, in the sense of not knowing basic facts. They don't realize that we are all made of mixtures, come from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. And that food, of course, are blends of different ingredients and recipes.

The restaurant is called Ginger People&Food, and these visitors from out of town probably didn't understand that either.

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