Reuse Your Plastics – How to Make an Ecobrick

 Reuse Your Plastics – How to Make an Ecobrick

We are hearing on an almost daily basis about how we are clogging up our waterways all thanks to us not reusing our plastics.

The amount of plastic in our ocean is ever increasing but so is plastic production. Where does it end? How?

Now, here’s the thing. Not all plastic is the same. Not all can be recycled and not all will break down.

But what can we do with all these plastics that we can’t recycle? Well, there are actually quite a lot of great ways on cutting down on your single use plastic but when it really can’t be avoided, get creative!

What is an Ecobrick?

In the simplest way that I could possibly explain, an ecobrick is like any other building brick except that it is made using only unrecyclable plastic and are essentially created by filling a plastic bottle with any clean and dry plastic until it is tightly packed and can be used in building.

Ecobricks are not necessarily a new idea but there are people all over the world that are putting these to some great use.

Husband and wife Rashedul Alam and Asma Khatun set about constructing a home made from ecobricks.

When it comes to actually using your ecobricks, you are really only limited to your imagination. They’re used in developing countries to construct furniture and even buildings. They have also been used to build classrooms in South Africa along with community gardens.

Why Use Ecobricks?

Aside from the obvious facts like ecobricks will keep this plastic from ending up in our landfills or even the ocean. These are not however, the only advantages to using ecobricks.

  • The three things that make plastic so hard to get rid of is actually the same three things that make it a great building material; durability, longevity, and water resistance
  • It is surprising at just how much plastic can be crammed into such a small space. You will soon start to see how one person can make a big difference
  • They prevent plastic from being incinerated which releases CO2, generating carbon emissions and contributing to global warming

What Can You Put Into an Ecobrick?

The idea of an ecobrick is to fill it with plastic that can’t be recycled. If there is recycling in your area for certain plastics then there is no need to use it for this. What can and can’t be recycled will vary from area to area so check with your local council to see exactly what you can and can’t recycle. Some of the items you could look at including would be

  • Plastic bags
  • Crisp packets
  • Cookie packets
  • Food containers
  • Straws
  • Cling film
  • Styrofoam

What Should You Not Put Into an Ecobrick?

Anything that goes into your ecobrick won’t break down and can’t be recycled so don’t put in anything such as metal, paper, card, food waste or glass.

How to Make an Ecobrick

This is such an easy project that you can get the whole family involved in some form or other no matter their age.

Step 1 – Choose Your Bottle

What matters most about the bottle that you choose is the size. While it is true that any size will do, they generally tend to be between 500ml and 1.5l.

Step 2 – Prepare Your Plastic

We quickly mentioned earlier that the plastic that you fill your bottle with must be clean and dry. This is to prevent any microbiological growth and methane forming inside your brick.

Step 3 – Start Poking

You need to be able to tightly pack the plastic into your ecobrick so go grab yourself a good strong stick.

Step 4 – Weigh it Up

The final step is actually one of the most important steps to get right and that is to weigh your ecobrick.

Your ecobrick needs to be tightly packed so that it is as strong as possible. You don’t however, want to overfill the brick. It shouldn’t be pushing against the lid because it could end up making the lid come off and the whole build could become a disaster.

As a rough guide, a 500ml bottle should weigh around 175g when full and a 1.5l bottle should weigh about 500g when full. For the final test stand on the bottle – it should be as solid as a brick and not dent. If it does, keep adding more plastic.

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