The pandemic has forced everyone to reexamine their lives. The way we shop for groceries has changed; the way our students learn has been altered; and the way the we look at spaces is completely different. School classrooms have been reimagined and restaurant seating has been redesigned. It should come as no surprise then that many kinds of structures have been put to new uses as well. From the shipping container studios that artists are creating to share their work and their ares with the public to the pop up containers at outdoor gatherings, custom shipping containers are now being used more than ever before. Modified shipping containers, however, are not the only new kind of spaces around the country.
Did you know, for instance, that there are now groups of people who are in the process of repurposing old school buses. From the periodic volunteer driver who just recently became aware of several extended buses that are 40 feet in length that are being moved to auction this month to schools and bookstores trying to create mobile libraries and classrooms from these utilitarian shells, there are many ways that buses can be purposed in much the same way as customized shipping containers. Although these buses are no longer licensed or certified for transporting students, the vehicles are in decent enough shape that many of them still have a couple of thousand miles left on them.
For volunteers who are looking for a distraction while they await election results or navigate the way through the pandemic the job of re-purposing older school buses for those in need is a worthwhile adventure.
Whether customized shipping containers or repurposed school buses, there are many ways that these spaces can be used:
- Storage or temporary shelter for those who have lost homes through weather or fire.
- Mobile classrooms or labs for teaching pods and private tutoring spaces.
- Relocatable, non-tent lodging for fire fighters who are battling major outbreaks for extended periods of time.
- Temporary office space, therapy rooms, and expanded restaurant dining during, especially during the winter months.
- Tiny homes, campers, plus many other kinds of variations for affordable residential options.
Durable, steel shipping containers and other kinds of customized shipping containers average a lifespan of 25 years and actually require minimal maintenance. As volunteers organize themselves to make use of these retired buses and customized shipping containers, these groups find tasks for anyone with any availability. Finding people who have a good attitude, of course, is key. And while these groups might really love diesel engine expertise and plumbing skills, it is important to make sure that volunteer groups make use of any kinds of skills that are available.
There are currently more than 17 million shipping containers in circulation across the globe with the number of active shipping containers at more than 5 million. In total, these containers make as many as 200 million trips a year, according to Billie Box. Making use of all the available options has always been important, but making sure that this happens during the pandemic is even more important.
These are unusual times many people are reconsidering the way they look at everything in their lives. Knowing that it may be awhile until things return to normal there are many ways that people are reconsidering the way they live their lives. And looking out for the needs of others is also high on the list of goals for many people. The latest research indicates that pop-up shops are booming and they are actually getting more attention from small businesses with a current U.S. market value of $50 billion. This trend will likely continue as the nation continues to navigate the current health situation. Finding the answers to the problems that both individuals and groups are facing is not easy, but with a core of volunteers and the right kind of affordable materials there are plenty of solutions to be found.
What is your next project? What will you do with your time now that vacations and large family gatherings are put on hold? Are you making the most of your time or are you looking for a way to make a meaningful contribution?