What Are Ecobricks?
There is an ever-growing trend in or modern world to become more healthy in our mind, body, and environment. We want to keep our world healthy and, in order to do that, we need to be able to understand what to do with the vast amounts of non-compostable plastics and microplastics that float across our oceans and fill our land.
In this article, we’re here to let you know how to make a positive impact on your planet and our future. We’ll be answering questions like ‘What are Ecobricks?’ and ‘What are the benefits of Ecobricks?’. And of course, how to start making your very own Ecobricks.
At this point, I do just want to point one thing out- ecobricks are by no means a solution to our unrecyclable waste problem. Whilst it’s great finding a secondary use for those once wasteful plastics, we should still be looking for plastic-free alternatives if there are any available. Ecobricks are great, but they shouldn’t encourage anyone to continue buying unrecyclable plastics if there are other options out there.
What Are Ecobricks Really?
An Ecobrick is a compacted bottle of waste that can be used to build objects or even buildings. They enable us to take responsibility for the non-decomposable waste we consume on a daily basis.
These can be of all shapes and sizes, so long as they are cleaned and dried after you have finished using them. They come together with other unrecyclable waste, tightly compacted into a durable and hard-wearing material.
They offer a sturdy and affordable alternative to other building materials. Some third world countries can use them to build homes, schools, churches, and even full towns. But, we can also use them to create lasting pieces of artistic and colourful furniture here in our own homes.
They are a saving grace to the world’s vast towers of waste and the huge garbage patches that float around our oceans.
Where It All Begun
The Ecobrick is the brainchild of Canadian artist Russell Maier after his travels through Sabangan Valley of the land of the Igorot people.
During his trip, he found himself stuck in a village experiencing time passing by along with a pile of used plastic. He watched as villagers took his used waste materials and threw them into the local Chico river where men would fish and children would swim. He was not going to sit by and watch this continue.
At first, his artistic flair was to put it to use through upcycling and selling new furniture, but the uses wore thin and the plastic waste issue was never solved. With time and meeting new faces, he found that compacting plastic waste into a used container would allow for sturdy building materials.
Thus, the benefits of the Ecobrick were born.
Ok, So I Want To Make An Ecobrick, But How Do I Make An Ecobrick?
You’ve made the right choice. The step in the right direction. One small step for man… you get it. But, seriously, this one decision makes more of an impact than you think, and the more you can spread the message with friends and family, the more of an impact you can make.
Let’s start with the plastic bottle. As mentioned, you have to have finished using it, removed all the packaging, and thoroughly cleaned it. It must be a see-through bottle (no coloured bottles or milk bottles) and it can’t have a handle as these are hard to fill and will be flimsy as a building material.
Then, step two would be to start packing the materials into your Ecobrick. Sometimes, the simplicity of making an Ecobrick can be a fun factor in itself.
What To Put In My New Ecobrick?
On to the most important bit: what goes in my new Ecobrick? The simple answer: any plastics that can’t be recycled elsewhere. If your plastic can be recycled, then make use of the fantastic services your town/council or government has to offer, and keep it in the circular economy. Putting recyclable plastics inside an ecobrick simply to ‘fill it up’ is a complete waste of time and goes against the very objective of creating it in the first place.
Anything that’s leftover (and there’s more than you think) can be thoroughly cleaned, dried, cut up, and tightly compacted into your Ecobrick. You can use a wooden dowel or a long-handled wooden spoon to push down and further help compact all the plastic into our Ecobrick before finishing the product off and sealing the lid.
When Is My Ecobrick Complete?
The golden formula to see if your Ecobrick is the right weight is to multiply the volume by 0.33. For example, if you have a 1-liter bottle, you’d multiply 1000 (milliliters) by 0.33 to make 330 grams. If you’re not there yet, just use your wooden dowel and squish it down some more.
Now you have a use for all of those crisp packets and chocolate wrappers. Let’s not pretend, everyone indulges from time to time.
One thing definitely worth noting here – if there are remnants of food debris left on the plastic packaging inside your bottle, then your Ecobrick could explode with the built-up methane over time and will waste all of your hard-compacting work! So remember to keep it clean.
What Do I Do With My Fabulous Ecobrick?
Ok, so we’ve covered ‘what is an Ecobrick’ and ‘how to make an Ecobrick’, now we’ want to know the benefits of Ecobricks and what we can do with them.
If you’re wanting to spice up your style at home or in the garden and make some home-made furniture, try a couple of D-I-Y projects and make a new desk or table, or even a couple of stalls to sit at them. And at the time of writing, we’re currently in isolation, so we have plenty of time on our hands right now (Want to know more things to do in isolation?)
Have a little surf for some online Ecobrick community inspiration and you may even find yourself with a new outdoor planter or water feature!
They also provide a healthy and forward-thinking way to have some creative fun with the kids, helping them understand why we need to help reduce waste. They can use them for school projects, arts and crafts, fort-building, and in-school presentations. Bring them into schools and get everyone talking about it, and help spread awareness far and wide!
Or if you feel the benefits of Ecobricks are better placed elsewhere else, you can go to the Ecobricks exchange website where you can find a drop-off hub where they can be put to good use on other projects.
An Interim Solution To Our Unrecyclable Waste Problem
With everyone’s help, we can transform the way our planet uses non-decomposable materials such as single-use plastics…until a better solution comes along anyway.
With third-world countries across the globe suffering from wide-spread waste build-up and a lack of building materials, you are able to make two friends with one gift: the planet and a new home-owner.
Here at Friendly Turtle, our mission is to offer sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives to people’s lifestyles to help them reduce waste. The Benefits of Ecobricks is that it encompasses our mission with the work you can do to help. And, naturally, we’re always inviting everyone to help make a difference to our planet. Creating ecobricks, along side composting at home, we should see the amount of waste we throw out each week come tumbling down!