Did you know the world’s population consumes 1.2 million plastic bottles every minute 1? It’s mind-blowing, I know. But what if we told you that there is a way to use those plastic bottles and non recyclable packaging as building materials? And even better yet, you can make it all on your own? It’s true!
If you picture your weekly trip to the grocery store, how many of the items on your list contain plastic packaging that can’t be recycled? The labels on your canned goods or jar of pickles, chip bags, candy wrappers…even most of our dietary staples like bread and rice come packaged in plastic. And when it comes to beverages like soft drinks or juice, plastic bottles are almost unavoidable. But just like that hard-to-reach item on the back of the top shelf, there is a secret solution to this plastic problem that is hiding out in plain sight- if you know where to look. And we’re about to put this secret solution within reach for everyone.
Meet the Ecobrick.
What exactly is an Ecobrick? I’m so glad you asked.
According to their website, “Ecobricks are a simple, low-tech, non-capital, plastic transition technology that follows the Earth’s example of carbon care.” 2
In simple terms, they are a catalyst for reframing the way we think about waste, in the form of a stuffed plastic bottle! Plastic beverage bottles are packed tightly with smaller pieces of plastic packaging and used as bricks for building modular homes, furniture, and garden structures. Brilliant!
The many benefits of the Ecobrick.
These bricks aren’t just a great way to reduce the amount of plastic waste going to landfills, they are so much more!
The Ecobricks are great for building because they are practically free. And as we’ve seen in recent years, traditional building materials such as wood and steel are becoming increasingly more expensive. And since development is something that will likely continue to grow around the globe, this alternative option can save a lot of people a lot of money.
Another plus side to using Ecobricks for building, is the fact that they ARE plastic. In the case of a fire, they will melt instead of catching ablaze, which reduces potential damage and gives you more time to get to safety.
Check out this video by Anuj Ramatri,a self-proclaimed “EcoFreak” who is on a mission to spread environmental awareness. He gives us a closer look at how Ecobricks are made and why they are so awesome!
If you’d like to learn more about how to build things with Eco bricks, you won’t want to miss this next short video by The Circle Hostel. They are an eco-friendly beach hostel chain that has used Ecobricks to build structures for their gardens and guest spaces. Let’s see how they did it…
The Plastic Transition
One of the best things about Ecobricks is that they remind us that oftentimes the problem is also the solution. The plastic that began the problem is also the answer to solving it. And, because Ecobricks are made by hand, they eliminate any additional waste that might be created by a factory. The hand-made process of ecobricking deepens our awareness of these issues and their regenerative alternatives.
Additionally, these hand-made bricks offer a wonderful opportunity for us to take some power back into our own hands. If we can’t commit to 100% zero waste when we purchase our groceries, we can surely do something constructive with it!
How to make your own Ecobricks:
Step 1: Rinse and dry your plastic bottles and any plastic packaging that has food/beverage remnants on it. Click here for a helpful resource that will help you determine the best types of plastic to stuff into your Ecobricks.
Step 2: Allow the bottles and the packaging pieces to fully dry. This will eliminate the chance of mold or bacteria and any undesirable gasses to form inside the bottles.
Step 3: Stuff those bottles with as many smaller pieces of plastic as you can! When you feel like the bottle is full enough, make sure the bottle is hard and there is no give from empty spaces or air. The harder the bottle, the more stable your building structure will be in the end.
Step 4: Get building or drop your bricks off at an organization near you that collects Ecobricks for building projects. Take a look around on the Ecobrick website for storage and building tips. Brik Market even provides an online space to buy, sell, or trade Ecobricks with others people in your community!
Feeling inspired yet?
Now that you know how much possibility lies within the trash bin, what are you going to build? A she-shed in the backyard? Raised beds for a community garden? Benches for the neighborhood playground? It’s never too late to start your own supply of Ecobricks and use them to make the world a better place, one jam-packed plastic bottle at a time.
Keep dreaming, and notice the beauty around you!
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If you haven’t come up with a New Years Resolution yet, maybe reframing the way we think about waste is a good one for you! Here are some of our other articles to get you started…
Our Plastic Waste Problem: It’s Not About Perfection
We all know that plastic waste is a huge problem, but what are we supposed to do about it? Turns out there’s a lot we can do with just a few little changes!Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
What if We Turned Plastic Waste into a Valuable Currency?
The Plastic Bank is turning plastic into money for people around the globe. This idea has the power to end poverty while saving our oceans!Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
Want to Reduce your Waste? Here’s a Guide to Get You Started
If you’ve ever stood in front of an array of waste bins at the airport holding your empty coffee cup wondering “Is this garbage? Is this recycling? What do I do with this stuff?” and you desperately wanted to do the right thing but didn’t know what to do, this is the article for you. We’re going to break down what’s waste, what’s not, and what we can do to make waste a thing of the past.Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
- EDN Staff. (2022, April 6). Fact sheet: Single use plastics. Earth Day. Retrieved December 14, 2022, from https://www.earthday.org/fact-sheet-single-use-plastics/#:~:text=Humans%20use%20about%201.2%20million,for%20a%20single%2Duse%20product. ↩
- Ecobricks.org, & Alliance, G. E. (2022, October 17). Ecobrick powered plastic transition. Ecobricks.org. Retrieved December 14, 2022, from https://ecobricks.org/en/ ↩
- Ramatri, A. (2020, October 12). Ecobricks – a solution to plastic pollution: Anuj Ramatri: EcoFreak. YouTube. Retrieved December 14, 2022, from https://youtu.be/lNgAW4VRcKo ↩
- thecirclehostel. (2017, July 5). Building with ecobricks 101. YouTube. Retrieved December 14, 2022, from https://youtu.be/NBqV68kLMMU ↩