CHICAGO (CBS) — There are 300 million unused shipping containers just sitting in landfills. Terri Crittenden and her team with Fredman Design Group realized the potential.

“We were wondering what kind of new idea that we could come up with that would change the face of doing cottages, guest homes,” said Crittenden, CEO, Fredman Design Group. “Imagine someone buys something from China and it comes across on the water and it stays here because it’s too expensive to send it back, so it stays here and most end up in landfills, unused.”

Now, she is giving them a second life as homes and cottages in Michigan.

Shipping container homes (Credit: Fredman Design Group)

“We’ve built three so far and we’re going to start another one this Spring,” she said. “It’s amazing the response we’ve gotten from this.”

Crittenden said a shipping container and its parts can easily be turned into a living space.

“There were no guidelines on how to build with shipping containers. So we did some research, about building in the Midwest. We wanted to make sure five years from now, the shipping containers hold up. They are like leggos. They are like building blocks so it makes stacking them and joining them fairly simple.”

Living space inside shipping container home (Credit: Fredman Design Group)

Crittenden said shipping containers are eco-friendly and affordable and gaining popularity as a legitimate green option for the consumer.

“The first one was four containers, the containers are eight-feet wide, nine-feet-six-inches tall, 40 feet long. We like to create a taller space like in the hallway. This one has three bedrooms, three bathrooms. The second one was 11 containers. This was our test tube baby. It had a guest house, a screened in porch and a pool. We also salvaged pieces and used it for the back of the cook top and the back of the fireplace. It was about 2400 square feet, plus the guest house which was about 1200,” she said.

Living room space inside shipping container home (Credit: Fredman Design Group)

Building with shipping containers isn’t exactly new, but until recently it hasn’t been exactly mainstream either. Now, though, it is becoming a lot more popular, as eco-friendly practices begin to influence the market.

“When you go into the house, you can see the containers, the doors and the numbers, they have numbers on the side. We leave those on so they look pretty authentic looking,” said Crittenden.

Crittenden said shipping container building is great for reducing waste and recycling material.

“It really could be the future of homebuilding. It’s much more green,” she said.