The concept originally came from Guatemala and made its way through the Philippines to our beautiful country of South Africa. Greyton, located in the Western Cape, was one of the first towns in the country to design and physically build structures out of these EcoBricks. The main motivation behind EcoBricks is to reduce and to become aware of single-use plastic. Between the years of 1950 and 2017, about 8.300 million metric tons (Mt) of plastic was produced worldwide. Out of the whole, only 9% of plastic was recycled.
WHAT ARE ECOBRICKS
They are plastic bottles that are filled to the brim with non-recyclable/non-biodegradable plastics. Most of these types of plastics are usually the culprits that land in our oceans. Some of the plastics get burned, resulting in even more pollution. Therefore it is very important to put the correct types of plastic in your Brick to ensure that it lasts as long as possible. These plastics include any clear plastic, packaging (chip or sweet bags for example), styrofoam, straws, and plastic shopping bags.
HOW TO MAKE ECOBRICKS
There is no rocket science behind the idea of an EcoBrick; anyone can do it! All you need is a plastic bottle, a stick that is long enough to fit into a standard two-litre bottle, and clean, dry plastic. It is crucial to always keep in mind that any plastic that you add to your EcoBrick has to be clean and dry. The reason being that any food or wetness can cause microbial growth, which can lead to the Brick not being useable or not lasting as long as it should.
As you add layer by layer to your EcoBrick, use the stick to compress the plastics. Give your brick a good squeeze now and then. If the bottle gives in, you know there is still room left. Once you have finished yours, be sure to weigh it. Calculate the minimum weight of an EcoBrick by multiplying 0.33 by the volume of the bottle. It is important to know the weight of an EcoBrick to ensure that it is safe to be used for building a better and more sustainable South Africa.
EcoBricking may seem tedious to some people, or it may not feel like it is making a change. But always remember: if those plastics weren’t going into an EcoBrick, where would it end up?