When companies ship things around the world, the most common way they do it is in steel storage containers. By some estimates, at least 95% of all goods are sent around the world in these containers. It has been estimated that there are about 17 million steel shipping containers all over the world. Because only six million of them are being used to ship items, there are 11 million either sitting unused or have been repurposed for other things. Here are some of the more interesting ways people are using used shipping containers.
- People turn them into swimming pools. There are tens of thousands of pools all over the United States. These make a person’s house the cool place to be during the summer. One great way to make use of steel shipping containers is to bury them in their back yards, fill them with water and voila! They have a swimming pool. Once the container has been prepped, painted and filled with water, no one can tell that it was made to carry products across the world.
- Some people make them into hospitals and clinics. There are a lot of places in the world where is is hard to get the building materials needed to construct important buildings such as hospitals and medical clinics. One such hospital is in Sudan. The people who built the hospital used steel shipping containers that were already on the site. They fitted them with solar panels. Steel cargo containers can be combined and turned into medical facilities all over the world. Because they are so customizable, the hospitals and clinics can be made to their exact needs.
- People turn them into restaurants. Pop up restaurants began being made out of steel shipping containers as restaurants. Designers can add glass windows and sliding doors to open the spaces up to courtyards and outdoor views. In 2013, people in London were treated to the chance to eat in one of the larger restaurants made from shipping containers. It was made from eight cargo containers. Now, you can find eateries all over the world that are in converted shipping containers.
- That hotel you are staying in could be a used shipping container. The first hotel to be made from steel shipping containers was designed and built in Hong Kong. This first hotel was named, “The Hive.” This particular structure looks like the Jenga game but there are other hotels around the world that are made from used shipping containers.
- Schools has been built from shipping containers. Just like the hospitals and clinics that have been made from shipping containers, school buildings have many of the same needs and the steel shipping containers lend themselves to being made into them. This is a great way to give kids around the world a place to learn. When schools have to expand, this can also be a temporary space.
- They have been made into offices. Around the world, businesses are finding they really need to expand their office space. Using shipping containers is a cost effective way to add space for more workers. These can be combined or used as stand alone structures. This can be a lot less expensive than building a full bring and mortar space for a business.
- Some entrepreneurs want to make floating communities out of shipping containers. Peter Thiel, one of the founders of PayPal, wants to create his own floating communities with them. He even founded an organization called, Seasteading Institute. His goal is to weave the shipping containers together and people will live in these floating cities where they can create their own governments and not adhere to the laws of any countries. What happens with his ideas has not been set but it is an interesting way to look at steel shipping containers and their uses .
Shipping containers are large, sturdy and built to handle the elements. That makes them good for a wide variety of used beyond transporting goods from one place to another. From being made into life saving hospitals or much needed schools to developing new places for people to live in the ocean, the possibilities for what can be done with steel shipping containers seems to be about as endless as the human imagination.