May 2005

Paper housing, and no, this isn’t origami
shetkaSTONE Counter Top by David Fournier, Jr.  Send a message to the author.

Imagine a house constructed entirely out of recycled paper. Think it’s impossible? Well read on…

Stanley Shetka is a professor of Art and Design at Gustavus Adolphus College. He has been researching and developing an innovative product since the 1980’s. The product is called shetkaSTONE, and it is a completely green, environmentally friendly, and re-recyclable product. It is also incredibly flexible in terms of how it is made, and what can be done with it. Although it has been in the works for quite some time, shetkaSTONE has only been available in small quantities for the past six or so years.

What makes shetkaSTONE so unique as a building material is that it is made entirely of recycled paper, cloth, and plant fibers. Even the binding agents used in the processing of the materials are environmentally friendly. In fact, once a product has been made, it can be recycled over and over again, indefinitely. According to Professor Shetka, his R&D people have made and recycled a chair from the same material over a dozen times. That is to say, they made a chair, broke it down, and remade the same chair from the same fibers, over and over again.

The type of paper that is used in the making of this material does not matter. Unlike most recycling facilities that have to separate and sort different types of paper, any kind may be used in the production of shetkaSTONE. Glossy, waxed, newsprint, or any other type of paper is fair game. Cloth and plant fibers may also be used. Currently, the most common plant fiber used in the production of shetkaSTONE is alfalfa, but other plants, such as canary grass, are also being researched as viable ingredients in the mix. The beauty of a plant like canary grass is that it grows well without fertilizers or pesticides, so there would be no environmental consequences of growing or harvesting it.

The process of making shetkaSTONE is automated, so it can be produced very quickly. The finished product can be made as hard as stone, or as malleable as Styrofoam. The finished product is fire-proof, can be nailed, screwed, or glued together, has a screw test strength of 400 lbs, and a product life of at least 30 years. And if that table top you just made doesn’t suit you, then you can recycle it and try again.

Currently, shetkaStone is being used to create countertops, tables, chairs, moldings, and other miscellaneous items.

Professor Shetka has high hopes for shetkaSTONE. This year is the start of his first pilot company that will produce full-time, and he hopes to expand both across the U.S., and internationally as well. In time, he believes that he can create ready made homes that require minimum construction time, and that are stronger then conventional wooden homes.

To learn more, visit


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