We need cheaper and more sustainable building materials that help impoverished communities — who can reasonably argue with that? Imagine if we could build homes using recycled waste? Even better! Jack Munro, a recent architecture school graduate has decided to take these basic ideas and push them a little further. He has come up with an innovative new way to recycle animal blood (yes, real blood!) collected from cows during slaughter to create “durable” building bricks that are also waterproof. Munro describes that the process involves sanitizing the waste with an antibacterial agent before mixing it with sand. The mixture is then baked for an hour before the blood proteins coagulate to form a solid, insoluble mass. YIKES!
Munro envisions his blood bricks to be used in underdeveloped areas, where traditional building materials may not be affordable. “Animal blood is one of the most prolific waste materials in the world,” Munro writes on his website. “The blood drained from animal carcasses is generally thrown away or incinerated despite being a potentially useful product.”
Awesome idea? Let’s examine the evidence, shall we? Firstly, relying on a “wasted resource” from an industry that contributes 51 percent of annual worldwide human-caused greenhouse gas emissions doesn’t seem like a very sustainable approach at all. One can argue, however, that the industry does exist and we already use animal parts and bodily fluids in food and a range of other products, so why not make use of the blood to actually build something (literally)? True, but how can a new industry that is almost 100% reliant on material from another industry that is incredibly harmful to the environment ever be sustainable? Something to think about…
Secondly, will people want to live in houses built of blood? Halloween is around the corner and this may seem conceptually fascinating, but COME ON! Imagine people saying “I can’t wait to to go home and relax in the comfort of my four bloody walls!” or “I have a plumbing problem…my walls are bleeding!” Jokes aside, this is pretty disturbing and most people may not be able to warm up to the idea no matter how many rare Kobe beef burgers they devour every month. Using the blood of innocent, slaughtered animals who probably lead a miserable life and died a painful death to build our homes? This is not just a question of smart utilization of an otherwise wasted resource, but really a question of how far we can take the idea that farm animals are mere resources…nothing but a means to an end.
But then again, most of the general population has absolutely no qualms about using products made of animal materials, or eating animal flesh and bodily secretions, so what’s the big deal with a house built with animal blood?
What do you think? Is this idea crazy innovative or just plain crazy?
Image Source: Jack Munro/Flickr