Free lifestyles Off-grid

Man Lives With Supermodel On Recycled Bottle Island

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there are some people on this earth that you can’t help but envy


One of these people is Richard Sowa, an environmentalist and architect who has lived a self-sustaining lifestyle with his Japanese (previous) supermodel wife on an island in the Caribbean.

Anyone reading this must already be jealous. What you probably don’t know is that Sowa doesn’t live on a sandy beach with palm trees swaying in the background; this eco-friendly genius actually built his own island entirely out of water bottles and shells.

It gets better. Sowa has successfully created a stable three-story home complete with three showers, two pools, a jacuzzi and a wave-powered washing machine. Let me repeat: this was all built out of water bottles and shells. How’s that for a man-made paradise?

Most people would never dream of painstakingly collecting 150,000 water bottles and thousands upon thousands of shells to create their very own island mansion, yet Sowa has done this not once, but two separate times.

Sowa built his first island in 1998 and named it Spiral Island


Using trash and natural materials for the base, he built a 20-by-16-meter island held afloat by a net containing 250,000 water bottles. Plywood and bamboo were used for the groundwork, which was then covered by dozens of buckets of sand and planted with mangrove trees for climate control. The trees cool the island down, and the sand provides soft ground for walking on.

Want to visit this steerable island?

Anyone can visit the island by giving a small donation. Mexican authorities have deemed his island to legally be an “eco-boat,” which means it has to abide by laws constituting emergency equipment to be on board.

“I always loved my island lifestyle and enjoy each chance to show the beauty of the place with anyone I can,” Sowa said in Inquisitr.


His first island was destroyed by a storm

The island was unfortunately heavily damaged by Hurricane Emily in 2005, but the tree roots managed to keep a sizable portion of the structure together. Still, it was unsalvagable. In 2008, Sowa built another island, this one being named Joyxee Island, and started an entrepreneurial touring business.

This new island measures 20-by-25-meters and, aside from the aforementioned features, also includes a solar-powered waterfall and a river. The island continues to grow as Sowa adds more onto it using a layering system of recycled trash and sand, along with strengthening the base with mangrove trees like the ones used on the previous island.


Richie Sowa and 47-year-old former model Jodi Brown


How Richard manages to be self-sufficient

A compost toilet is used in the bathroom, and when the toilet becomes full, the contents are used as fertilizer in the garden. Yes, he has a garden. How else would you expect a vegetarian environmentalist to acquire food?

Nothing goes to waste where Richard Sowa is concerned, and why should it? Each and every piece of scrap or garbage can be used to add to the island, which Sowa wants to move out into Isla Mujeres Bay.

Sowa deeply believes in leading an autonomous lifestyle with his wife and dog, and he plans to one day make the island completely self-sustaining, including a wave-powered air conditioner. Sowa is out to save the world, one plastic bottle at a time.

Watch this inspiring short video about Richard’s adventures



What do you think? Hankering to build your own private island-boat?

Weigh in below.


For more ‘salvaged material house porn’ see:



Photos ©Chris Maluszynski


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  • Unfortunately this structure was not built to last so it didn’t. It broke apart in a storm and littered the harbor with the plastic trash it had been built with

    • Im surprised its legal. All that garbage is so bad for the sea life! Its nice in theory but not thought threw.

      • The sea life isn’t exposed to any garbage and it’s extremely well thought out. The day you can match his carbon footprint fell free to critize.