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How to Save the Planet, One Ecobrick at a Time

One of the ways in which I’m doing my part to save the planet is by creating Ecobricks to do some good using non-biodegradable waste.

Creating Ecobricks has become somewhat of a calling to me. Being an individual who cares deeply about the environment, I’ve been struggling to commit to a method of conserving the environment.

I have tried vegetarianism, but it just became too much of a hassle, considering that I still live with my parents. And don’t earn enough to afford a balanced vegetarian diet myself, either. I don’t know the first thing about becoming an activist. Although I’d love to work for Greenpeace Africa or the WWF, it’s just not realistic at this point in time.

My family and I recycle, which is a start. But, taking one step further, I began to make Ecobricks in January 2019, and I haven’t stopped making them since.

What is an Ecobrick?

An Ecobrick is an empty plastic bottle that is packed tightly with non-recyclable materials, particularly soft plastic, until it becomes a strong and durable building block.

Suitable materials to fill Ecobricks with include:

  • Plastic bags
  • Laminated paper
  • Polystyrene trays
  • Plastic fruit punnets
  • Silvery packets from chips and chocolates
  • Pet-food bags
  • Wax paper

The litter must be stuffed inside the bottles in such a compact manner that the bottles are rock-solid and resistant to breaking and denting.

Not only does it provide a use for all the non-biodegradable waste we produce, but it’s also a great way for up-cycling building materials cheaply.

Once filled, the bottles can then act as building bricks to create anything from benches to houses.

The compressed plastic waste, because it is non-biodegradable, does not disintegrate. In addition, it provides hardy support, similar to normal building bricks, but at almost no cost.

Another benefit is that eco-bricks are also highly insulating and fireproof.

Ecobricks is probably not a long-term solution, of course. Ideally, we should be producing much less plastic (find out how you can do that here).

But it’s certainly an answer for the interim, compared to the damaging environmental impacts of the brick-making industry. According to Greenpop,

“It is estimated that brick-making kilns in South East Asia alone release as many greenhouse gases into the environment as all passenger cars in America.”

How to Make Ecobricks

Watch this helpful video to learn how to construct your own Ecobricks:

Want to get involved in Ecobricking?

Luckily, there are many organisations in South Africa that run Ecobrick projects.

One example is Waste-ED. Waste-ED develops zero waste management systems with schools, communities, businesses, events etc. They use the Ecobrick as an education tool and to build much-needed structures in and around South Africa. Visit their website or Facebook page to find an Ecobrick collection point near you.

Secondly, there is GoBrik. GoBrik is a platform being developed by the Global Ecobrick Alliance that enables users around the world to register and log their Ecobricks so that community projects are able to build with them. The website also has a map that helps you find a drop-off point located near you.

Another organisation involved in collecting and building with Ecobricks is the Endangered Wildlife Trust. As part of their Urban Conservation Project, they help communities by building school buildings, vegetables and more using Ecobricks.

Finally, ADVA Academy, a company in Johannesburg that trains youth and young adults in leadership, skills, and teamwork, also collects Ecobricks. They aim to uplift their community by getting the young people they work with involved in, among other projects, building benches, vegetable gardens, etc. with Ecobricks. Visit their Facebook page to learn more.

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