Elsa Zaldívar

2008 Laureate, Applied Technology
Paraguay, Born 1960


Project Goal

Combine loofah and plastic waste to make low-cost housing

Location: Paraguay

"We want to find sustainable housing alternatives for the poor, while also discovering new markets for their agricultural products. This is a perfect combination."

Elsa Zaldívar takes leftover pieces of a vegetable sponge and mixes them with other vegetable matter and recycled plastic to form strong, lightweight panels that can easily be assembled into simple structures, including houses. Her technological, eco-friendly solution to her nation’s housing shortage will help save what remains of Paraguay’s rapidly diminishing forests.


Paraguayan families without adequate housing


cost per square metre to produce Elsa's panels, making it competitive with existing construction materials, such as wood

Other 2008 Laureates