This weeks Eco Chat episode on the Eco Living Community Group was all about Eco Bricks. What they are, how to make them and what to do with them afterwards.
Only a short video this week, or you can read a rough transcript below.
What is an Eco Brick
An eco brick is a plastic bottle, typically a water, fizzy pop or squash bottle which is packed tightly with non-recyclable plastics. These bottles originated in poorer countries and were used as building blocks for various different structures. They took plastic waste that was destroying their environment and made it in to something useful. Now they are made all over the world and people use them for school or community projects or to make things in their own homes and gardens.
How to make an Eco Brick
Making a brick can take time and patience but they definitely become easier with practise. Start by segregating your plastic. Plastic bags, film, packets and straws etc. then thoroughly wash and dry all of it. Next, find your bottle, something with smooth sides is a lot easier to fill. Consider what the bottles are going to be used for and make sure it is something you will be able to have multiple of so you can have lots of bottles the same shape and size. You will then need a stick. A bamboo cane, wooden spoon or similar that is sturdy and which you can use to push the plastic down in to the base of the bottle.
Make sure there is no glass, metal or paper going in to your brick as this will ruin the integrity of it. Some community projects also look for specific colours at the bottom so it’s worth checking that out before you start building.
When it’s time to build, cut your plastic in to small (2cm square) pieces and then pack them tightly into the bottle. The completed bottle needs to have a density 1/3rd of the size of the bottle e.g. a 1 litre bottle needs to be 333g minimum. Weigh your bottle as you go along to check you are on track.
When your bottle is finished, make sure to log it on the gobrik.org website so it can be validated and tracked. Make sure you write the logged data on the brick with a permanent marker.
Arguments for and against
There are many arguments for and against eco bricks. Some love them, others hate them. Here is MY personal opinion:
Eco Bricks are a great way of assessing your plastic waste and seeing what you can cut back on. If done correctly it will take longer and longer to fill each brick as you will slowly cut down on your unrecyclable waste. The bricks can be used to build things (like the footstool I made) which, if done properly, provide a safe and fun alternative to other building materials. However, if not made, logged and tracked properly, eco bricks could end up being an excuse for people. Some may think “well I’m not putting the plastic in the bin, so I can keep consuming as much and it doesn’t matter”. It absolutely does. Eco-brickking is NOT a get out free card to plastic consumption. It is a way to assess and reduce!
I know this is one of the biggest reasons people are against eco bricks and it is so important that ‘hiding’ the plastic isn’t the reason for making them. You also need to make sure you follow correct guidelines when building with bricks so that they are safe and will not degrade/leech plastics/be a fire hazard. To find out more you can look at https://www.ecobricks.org/ and to log your bricks head to https://www.gobrik.com/