Every beer fan knows that monks and beer go together—especially if those monks are Trappists. But while some monks brew, others build monumentally beautiful structures out of recycled beer bottles.

In the mid ’80s, Buddhist monks in the Sisaket area of Thailand, near the Cambodian border, were growing tired of the mounting litter in the area. To promote recycling and the cleaning of the landscape, the monks asked everyone in the area to bring them recycled beer bottles that would be used to build a temple complex. Soon green Heineken bottles and brown Chang bottles, a local Thai favorite, started pouring in.

The monks then started construction on what would come to be called Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew (or the “Million Bottle Temple”).

million bottle temple 2

The monks haven’t stopped building, either. As they get more bottles, they keep adding to the beautiful complex. Currently, they have over 20 buildings on the temple site, and estimate that at least 1.5 million bottles are now part of the structure. The bottles are ideal as building materials because they don’t lose color, are easy to clean, and provide good lighting to the building’s interior.

The Telegraph reports that the monks use a concrete core to strengthen each structure, and they use discarded bottle caps to create Buddha mosaics around the complex.

million bottle temple 4

million bottle temple 3

If you love eco-tourism, you should visit this breathtaking temple to see how beer bottles can change the world.

million bottle temple location

Screengrab: Google Maps

According to Slate, the monks started by building the initial temple structure; after that, they built a crematorium, sleeping quarters, toilets, and water towers. Bottles make up every part of the buildings that isn’t decorated with bottlecap mosaics. Instead of these bottles sitting in landfills somewhere and ruining the environment, the monks are using them to bring a sense of beauty and wonder to their part of the world.

We’ve seen people upcycle beer bottles into drinking glasses, tiles, and even crushed, recycled glass countertops. But this is by far the most impressive use for recycled beer bottles that we’ve ever seen, or will probably ever see. What’s even more unbelievable is how the beautiful green and brown colors in the bottles blend so harmoniously with the natural environment around the temple.

[via Slate, the Telegraph]

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