The world’s oceans are home to many cargo ships that are carrying all sorts of goods around the world. Most of the world’s freight is delivered by ship, going from port to port on all continents. On board these ships, many steel shipping containers are used to house the goods inside, and many people may have seen these distinctive, colorful metal boxes before. Roughly the size and shape of a semi truck’s trailer, these steel shipping containers number in the millions, but it may be noted that many such containers are already retired. Many are in use, but many others have been put aside in storage, doing no good for anyone. The good news is that these metal boxes can be reused to make portable offices, shipping container houses, container pop up shops, and more. And if all else fails, these steel shipping containers can simply be melted down for their steel, a metal that is always in demand. The steel industry enjoys a 90% reclamation rate for old materials, after all, but these boxes can be remade into buildings, too.
All About Shipping Containers
There are plenty of these shipping containers out there today, and many of them are hard at work carrying goods to the world’s ports for exports and imports. It is believed that 17 million of these steel shipping containers are found around the world, with about five to six million currently in use. All together, they make hundreds of millions of trips around the world each year, and some of them are quite large, too. These steel shipping containers vary in size, but some of the largest ones are nearly 1,300 feet long, with some of the smallest being closer to 40 feet long.
A typical steel shipping container may last for 20 years or so with proper maintenance, though many are now set aside in storage, waiting to be used for something. Or, as mentioned above, they can be simply melted down for their steel, and an average shipping container can yield as much as 3,500 kilograms of steel, useful for just about anything. But assuming that a steel shipping container is not melted down, it serves as a convenient, ready-made box for a construction project.
Make Something Out of Steel Shipping Containers
Many innovative builders, such as countless American ones, are making use of these steel shipping containers to cut down on construction costs and to give these containers a new lease on life. The size and shape of these boxes makes them ideal for creating small but tough buildings, and along the West Coast, early innovations for steel shipping containers included making coffee shops or fast food restaurants. Taco Bell and Starbucks led the way, developing portable mini-restaurants built out of these containers. Furbishing a steel box for a coffee shop or fast food eatery means cutting holes for the windows and utilities, and fabricating the walls, floor, and ceiling to cover the bare metal. Electricity, running water, natural gas, and more will be supplied, and a fast food eatery built like this will have fully furnished kitchen equipment, a cash register, and a counter.
Not only that, but these old shipping containers are also useful for making mobile offices. Who would use these small offices? Typically, construction managers and support staff need mobile offices that are placed on any project site, so steel shipping containers make for great starting points. Once furnished into an office, a steel container can house the manager and all of their equipment, ready to be moved as needed. Often, American offices and work spaces are smaller now than in decades past, possibly because a lot of work has been consolidated into computers.
Finally, old shipping containers can be made into small but tough houses for sale, and these houses make for great real estate for vulnerable Americans who suffer from chronic homelessness or similar issues. Such houses are designed to consolidate everything into a compact but comfortable living space, including all the basic necessities such as bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room, and more. If built well, such houses may seem bigger than they are on the inside, and quite comfortable and well furnished, too.