Ecobricks – How to Reuse Your Non-Recyclable Plastic Waste

Earlier in the year, I came across this wonderful idea of making ecobricks* from plastic waste via a new UK Facebook group.  If you’re clearing up after Christmas or starting to have a spring clean there is likely to be an abundance of excess packaging in many households, schools and businesses. I wanted to share the idea with you all again, to show you how you can reuse your non-recyclable plastic waste.

It is an innovative idea because it is something that you can do yourself in your home, your school or community. You do not need to wait for shops or governments to change policy to take this positive action to help the environment.

plastic bottle filled with lots of small plastic pieces ecobrick
Photo thanks to Maria Harding – her first ecobrick

Many of us are trying to reduce our plastic use as much as possible, some even working towards zero waste, but today’s lifestyle does involve lots of plastic no matter how hard we try. Even when we recycle plastic, it still has a damaging effect on the environment, and there are so many items that cannot be recycled.

WHAT IS AN ECOBRICK?

This brilliant idea involves packing non-recyclable plastic waste into plastic bottles including bags, labels, cling film, tape, sweet wrappers, yoghurt pots, etc. When it is cut small and packed tight it becomes weighty and can then be used to build small home and garden constructions with.

Immediately it has considerably less net volume than if you just throw it away into landfill or the recycling bin. It also has a purpose. The whole idea is to use plastic as a resource rather than a throwaway item that becomes a blight on the environment. The Global Ecobrick Alliance are keen to disassociate this project from the idea of “waste”.

WHO SHOULD MAKE AN ECOBRICK?

I just love the idea of this both for personal use and as community projects in schools and groups. I started mine and filled a small bottle within 4 days!  It’s shocking and has made me think even harder about how to reduce my plastic usage.

By introducing this idea to your friends, family and neighbours it is a great opportunity to spread the message of reducing single-use plastic.  This is also a great activity for children to learn about the environment and progress their fine motor skills with cutting up and putting the pieces in the bottle (Yes I know, I’m always the teacher!)

man sitting on a sofa made of plastic ecobricks
photo thanks to ecobricks.org

USES FOR ECOBRICKS

They were originally invented for use in other countries but the craze has now hit the UK. Initially, they mostly seemed to be used to make seating and small walls in homes and gardens, but I’ve also seen an outdoor skateboard ramp constructed from ecobricks!

I’m sure as time goes on and this becomes more popular, people will get very creative and come up with all sorts of ideas of how to use ecobricks. People are starting to share their plans on the Facebook group and I’ve seen people are thinking of using them to insulate their green and summerhouses,  or make into planters and even build a tortoise enclosure!

And of course, if you don’t think you want to use them yourself, how about making the bricks and donating them to a local cause. They are springing up all over the place now that word is getting out, just ask on your local Facebook group or check the list of collection points on the official ecobricks Facebook group.

plastic rubbish packs and pots norecyleable
plastic bottle cling film and cut plastic ecobrick

HOW TO MAKE AN ECOBRICK

You can find all the info you need on ecobrick.org  with lots of downloadable pdf guides and videos that will show you what you can put inside your ecobrick, exactly how to make them and how you can construct with them. There is so much information on this website including working out your PTR (Plastic Transition Ratio) by measuring your consumption against the production of your own ecobricks. I’m sure we will all be astonished at quite how much plastic we use.

As well as the official website, there is a brilliant interactive Facebook group for ecobricks in the UK, which offers support and answers queries. They have all the answers to most of your frequently asked questions which can be found by accessing files from a dropdown on the header of their Facebook Page.

screen shot of FAQ headers from ecobricks website
FAQs on the ecobricks Facebook page

IS IT EASY TO MAKE AN ECOBRICK?

I found that my first brick was a bit of trial and error, some pieces I cut too small, some too large.  Unfortunately, my first bottle (pictured below), was not quite dense enough and had to be repacked tighter. This can be determined by weighing your bottle and checking the density on the website.

The best tip is to make sure that you push it down tight from the very start. I was amazed at just how much more I could pack in each time. I was able to use a wooden spoon for the small one but needed a longer piece of bamboo stick for the second larger bottle.

It is easy to make, but it is time-consuming.

weight guide for ecobricks on a green background with a plastic bottle at the bottom of the chart
Weight guide courtesy of Emily Squidgell from ecobricks Facebook

WHAT DO YOU GAIN FROM MAKING AN ECOBRICK?

The most important thing I have gained from it so far is just how much plastic goes through our household even though I thought I was quite “green” minded. I am determined to try harder and to spread the word of this innovative idea.

It has led me to seek out more information on the internet about how to reduce my waste further and I have come across another wonderful group  Journey to Zero Waste in the UK.  It’s been a massive learning curve. Even if you don’t want to do this yourself I would urge you all to make just one so you can see how much plastic waste you create.  It might make you think differently.

plastic bottles filled with waste plastic to make ecobrick

Who else is going to join in or share this idea with their friends and schools?  Or have you already started making ecobricks, if so what are you planning to make? Please do share this to spread the word. You can make a difference.

Of course please try to reduce plastic consumption as much as possible by:

* Buying your fruit and vegetables loose or reusing the plastic bags that they come in each week.

* Or try growing some of your own fruit and veg.

* Taking your own containers for meat and fish at Morrisons where you’ll also receive bonus points.

* Take fabric shopping bags with you.

* Shop at one of the newer stores that sell loose dry food by weight and take your own containers.

* Use stainless steel straws.

* Use bamboo toothbrushes and cups.

* Buy a refillable water bottle, coffee cup or flask.

* Reuse ice cream tubs as lunch boxes that can be washed out after each use.

* Reuse larger lidded yoghurt and dessert pots for storage.

* Try out the new range of shampoo bars.

* Use a bar of hand soap rather than liquid soap or buy a soap dispenser which uses far less than if you pump it out yourselves.

You may also like to read more from my Art, Crafts, Upcycling & Eco section which features lots of ideas including:

How to Reuse, Redistribute and Recycle your Rubbish
How to Make Art and Upcycle your Music Memorabilia
10 Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste on Holiday

Links:
ecobrick.org
ecobrick UK Facebook group

* Please note there is no capitalisation on the word ecobricks.
Russell Maier, Regenerative Designer: “Our vision is to take the specialness out of ecobricks and make it normal.”

two people playing guitars on stage wall made of plastic ecobricks
photo from ecobrick.org

This post was updated for Blogmas18.

stormy pink sky sun setting over the ocean

* FOLLOW
* MORE ABOUT TEA & CAKE FOR THE SOUL

* MY BLOGMAS SCHEDULE
* WHAT IS BLOGMAS?

 

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “Ecobricks – How to Reuse Your Non-Recyclable Plastic Waste

  1. Ecobricks – wow, I find this idea fascinating! The hubby and I are on the team that are concerned about the amount of plastic that is just piling up everywhere, waiting to be recycled but nothing can be done with it.

    To see a human being sitting on a pile of these ecobricks, I must say that I’m intrigued! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I heard about this recently and have started making my first ecobrick! I shared to FB and pinned this also. What a great idea for teachers to make these with kids in school! Thanks for sharing.

    Julie
    treeoflifeyogamontrose.com

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is such an inspiring blog post! I’d never heard of ecobricks before and thing they’re an amazing idea. I’m definitely going to give them a go. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.