What is an Eco Brick?

There’s a new recycling craze sweeping the world. It’s a way to take non-recyclable plastics such as plastic wrap, envelope windows, food wrapping and turn it into something useable with very little effort. Take one plastic bottle, stuff it to the brim with non-recyclable plastic and you have yourself an EcoBrick. It’s not quite that easy though, a little thought goes a long way in creating an EcoBrick fit for purpose… but more of that later.

EcoBricks can then be used to create a wonderful array of building blocks, chairs, planters – whatever your creativity can come up with. They’re even being used to make entire buildings! The possibilities are endless as these bricks last a really long time as the plastic bottle would take a hundred years at least to break down, even partially, in a landfill site. They also have really high load-bearing strength when packed correctly, they can withstand a lot or pressures and sudden shock, making them almost bulletproof!

The idea behind an EcoBrick is to remove from the biosphere all of the plastic that your household generates which cannot be effectively recycled, trap it into something that will last a long time (the plastic bottle) and stop all of that plastic from going to landfill. Or worse, ending up in the oceans. We all know how bad plastic is for the oceans as so many TV programs have been made and many more magazine articles published informing us of the plight of the oceans. By creating an EcoBrick you are making a reusable plastic building block that can be used for many years.

By making EcoBricks at home, the plastic goes nowhere near the landfill sites or the oceans and goes towards building something for yourself, or donated to a local project. They can even be re-used so when the bottle has fulfilled its role in your project, as long as it’s in tact, can be used again numerous times.

Since starting my EcoBricking quest I’ve had my eyes opened to the amount of non-recyclable plastic that my household generates – even when we’re trying to cut down on our plastic consumption. On average, we collect at least one plastic shopping bag FULL of plastic, which is scary. This weighs anywhere between 500g to a whole kilogram of plastic. A WEEK! This would normally go into our refuse bin (or sometimes burnt on the coal fire) but now it’s being cut up and stuffed into plastic bottles. Our biggest challenge is finding the bottles, as we rarely buy any sort of soft drink but by asking friends and family to save them for us we have a steady supply ready to be filled. On average we’re creating EcoBricks that weigh between 400-500g at a rate of around 2 a week so far. Some weeks it’s less, some it’s more. But by collecting all of this plastic we have become more aware of where the plastic is coming from, thus giving us further insight into where we can cut down on the plastic we generate.

Be warned, once you start EcoBricking you’ll be hooked. You may even find yourself fishing through the bin – just in case one of the kids has thrown a now valuable piece of plastic away.

This is part of a series of blog posts about EcoBricks… more to come soon.

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