We’ve already discussed how you can Rethink the Bag, find alternatives to disposable plastic products and the dangers posed by single-use plastic. But what can you do about the plastic that is already in your life, or the items you are unable to switch for alternatives?

What if there was a dead simple way to begin your journey to a non-recyclable waste-free life and turn your waste into green construction material and keep it out of our ocean and landfills? Meet the EcoBrick.

 

What is an EcoBrick?

An EcoBrick is a plastic bottle packed tightly with clean and dry, non-biodegradable waste. These bottles can then be used as building materials to create insulative structures and colourful furniture.

How do you make an EcoBrick?

  1. Collect your clean and dry household waste. We recommend only waste that you cannot recycle (like dog food bags), but you can EcoBrick anything non-biodegradable and dry.
  2. Twist your waste and insert it into a plastic bottle. Compress it as tightly as you can with a stick.
  3. Keep doing this - make sure your bottle is unsquishable.
  4. Think your EcoBrick is done? If you can squeeze it by more than 10% with one hand you should add more waste.
  5. No longer squishable? It's done!

Making EcoBricks is not about encouraging the production of plastic, but rather a temporary means of protecting the environment while us humans figure out a way to cut plastic out of our lives altogether, and while you figure out how to cut these items out of your own life.

EcoBricking is simply a case of forming a habit - rather than throwing your wrapper in the bin, just stuff it into a disposable bottle that you keep next to your sink or bin. Many projects have a preferred bottle size preference so please contact any project you would like to support before you start EcoBricking. But, you can always make oddly shaped EcoBricks for personal projects. This is an easy way to make a small impact.

If you would like more information about EcoBricks, projects that you can support and what types of items are and aren't recycleable, check out the great information on the Waste-ED website.

How can EcoBricking help me reduce my waste?

When you start EcoBricking at home, you'll automatically become more aware of how much waste you actually produce (it's scary)! But, you'll also have the opportunity to keep track of what waste you are generating each month and be able to find ways to eliminate non-recyclable items from your life, in favour of reusable or recyclable alternatives.

By doing this in conjunction with other waste elimination activities, particularly recycling and composting, you'll find that each month you can actually reduce the amount of non-recyclable waste your household generates. This will slow your EcoBricking - but that's not a problem, because EcoBricks were a temporary solution anyway!

Making an EcoBrick is so convenient that it can easily be implemented almost anywhere. Some of our staff are making their own in our break room from pieces of non-recyclable packaging.

Forming the habit of EcoBricking your waste is a giant step towards a zero-waste lifestyle. When families first make EcoBricks and witness how their waste output halves, they're much more likely to continue the trend in other aspects of their lives, e.g. start composting their organic waste and recycling the rest of their waste.

All of a sudden a family that sent heaps to landfill, now throws away very little and can enjoy the benefits that accompany each habit.

What should I do with a completed EcoBrick?

A current challenge for organisations collecting EcoBricks is the huge influx of people delivering them to drop-offs compared to ongoing projects. We'd like to encourage everyone currently making EcoBricks to get involved in projects that can benefit their community. EcoBricking is much more fulfilling when you get to be part of the end result!

Personal EcoBricks can be given to a local drop-off and help a disadvantaged community

Residents of Cape Town can contribute their EcoBricks to Waste-ED, while Johannesburgers can drop theirs off with ADVA Youth Skills Development. Residents in other South African cities can contact local projects directly.

If you have a large number of EcoBricks, such as a collection from your church or business, please get in touch with a project you would like to support directly to find out about their needs, and make sure your EcoBricks can be as useful as possible.

Please note that the Two Oceans Aquarium is not an EcoBrick drop-off point.

Get creative at home

Feeling attached to your EcoBrick? Use it to upgrade your garden, or build some sustainable furniture. We have some ideas of how you can use EcoBricks over on Pinterest.

Image courtesy of Waste-ED

Corporate EcoBrickers can support community projects - or start their own!

Large organisations have the opportunity to support new and existing projects in a community.  Know of a community vegetable garden, housing project, school development or park that needs help? Simply get in touch with the project's organisers and find out what type of EcoBrick they will accept. Better yet - encourage your employees and members to not only make EcoBricks at home, but to brainstorm solutions to replace the problematic items and to set goals to phase the need to EcBrick out over time.

Image courtesy of Waste-ED

Get started today!

What are you waiting for? Turn your next bottle into an EcoBrick and see how that changes the way you think about waste.

Always keep in mind that starting to EcoBrick at home is the beginning of a process to eliminate the non-recyclable waste you generate. Stuffing your own EcoBricks is the ideal way to start tracking your own waste, and beginning the journey of finding waste-free alternatives. EcoBricks are not the solution to plastic pollution - but they are a valuable step in helping us all become a little more responsible for our waste.

 

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Image courtesy of Waste-ED
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