Steel shipping containers are a shipyard nightmare. After only a usable lifespan of 10-12 years they’re not considered to be reliable for world travel, packed with goods. Once out of commission, they just pile up – taking up space and going to waste. However, times are changing. When retired from shipping, there’s still a whole lot of life left in these containers, and they’re being recycled into innovative and amazing structures throughout the world. Here are just a handful of the ways these sturdy containers can be revamped and reused:
Medical clinics. The students of Bridgewater-Raritan Regional High School have a unique gift for a poverty stricken village in Pader, Uganda. They have spent months refurbishing a 40 by 8 ft. shipping container, creating a compact medical clinic. They did everything – plumbing, electric, and carpentry – designing a clinic with two examining rooms, an office, and a pharmacy. They plan to send it out, packed full of the goods that local people and businesses donated for the village and its orphans. In addition to the medical equipment and supplies, there will be nonperishable food, shoes, books, school supplies, and building and gardening tools.
Portable employee housing. Many businesses are finding that shipping containers offer the ideal solution to employee housing that needs to be portable. It’s a great option for mining companies, pipe lining companies, and petroleum companies. Often working in remote regions, these types of industries need sturdy housing that can be moved from place to place. And it is well designed housing, indeed. Comfortable and homey, with sleekly designed kitchens and bedrooms, these smart apartments are cost efficient and long lasting. These same industries are also using shipping containers to set up kitchens and dining areas for their employees.
Camping cabins. On July 27, 2012, 97.3 KIRO FM reporter Tim Haeck did a story about a Seattle park that will soon be renting a refurbished shipping container to campers. They’re calling it a “camping pod” and it has a variety of features sure to appeal to campers in the area. LED lights, a sliding glass door, and nice sized windows for enjoying the view. The steel construction of the shipping container enhances security, keeping goods safer than a tent or yurt while campers are away from the campsite hiking and enjoying nature.
Urban farming. Shipping containers are being used to grow food in urban settings. An August 2, 2012 Detroit Free Press article announced the official opening of Cadillac Gardens. General Motors was among the sponsors of this urban garden, which uses re-purposed shipping containers as gardens for local residents to grow fresh produce. Detroit isn’t the only city using shipping containers to help increase the availability of affordable fresh produce in urban areas. Some areas are using them to house hydroponics growing systems, which can operate year round.
Swimming pools. On July 21, 2012, the Denver Post reported on a swimming pool recently installed by TAXI, a residential and business community development organized around sustainability. Their pool, for residents and employees, is made of two 40 foot long steel shipping containers. It has a shallow end where the water is 4 feet deep. The deep end offers a depth of 7 ½ feet.
Author Jennifer Sanders writes about innovative uses for a recycled or reclaimed storage container. Whether you’re thinking about a container rental, or purchasing a recycled one for a business project, you’ll find their many uses incredibly inspiring.
Image Courtesy: Flickr/Aldenwicker