Paper housing, and no, this isn’t origami
by David Fournier, Jr.
Imagine a house constructed entirely
out of recycled paper. Think it’s impossible? Well read
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
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
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
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
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 www.shetkastone.com.