This is just a short post about something I recently discovered and wanted to share with you.
Being a good child of the 80/90s, I’ve known about recycling to save the planet for some decades. More or less, I’ve done my bit but probably not as much as I could have done. I moaned, the same as everyone else, when the council cut the collection of household waste to every other week. It forced some reaction though and now I recycle more than I used to.
I’m committed to the process of recycling so I really don’t mind sorting out the piles of cardboard, plastic, glass and metal to go into the appropriate boxes. I’m always surprised by how much of each sort there is, but especially so by the plastic. I buy lots of vegetables, fruits and sandwich meat for the kids and everything comes wrapped in one if not two different types of plastic. Generally the trays are recyclable, but the film plastic is not.
I’d got used to throwing it away unless it could double up as anything useful (I’m thinking poo bags for a dog that wants a walk NOW for example). Then I heard of Ecobricks.
Ecobricks are a way of locking away the un-recyclable film that would otherwise fill up landfill sites and it makes it useful.
The idea is a really simple one. You find an old plastic drinks bottle, a load of unrecyclable plastic (plastic bags, Styrofoam, clingfilm, straws, packaging, etc), a wooden spoon or stick and ram it all in until you can’t ram in any more.
The bottles get tightly packed so they act as solid bricks that can then be used in building projects. When they’re packed into cob (an ancient kind of building mud made of clay, straw and sand) they can be made into benches, small walls or even a house!
The website suggests that you start with clean plastic (otherwise the food particles might biodegrade and the gasses will distort the bottles or even make the tops pop off) and, to make it fun, line the bottom of the bottles with coloured plastics so that they can be left sticking out of the cob walls for decoration.
Soft plastics need to go in first to line the bottom and to make sure that enough plastic can be packed in. Then you take your plastics and poke them in the top of the bottle, pausing to jam them down with the spoon or stick. A 1 litre squash bottle will pack in a remarkable amount of plastic. Witness this bag I’ve been collecting for about a week. I’ve squashed it down to fit more in but that’s about a week’s worth of plastic that I’d have otherwise thrown away.
I managed to get about 4/5ths of it into a 1l bottle. I did it all in one go so now my fingers and hands are really aching so I’d suggest doing it as you go along, rather than all in one go. Compacting it with a spoon/stick is really essential to make sure it all goes in and is compacted tightly enough to make the bottle useable in building projects. And perhaps to save your fingers.
This week, after putting so much excess plastic aside for my Ecobrick, I’ve noticed that my bin is less than half full even a week and two days after the last collection. It struck me that this kind of plastic, although it is light, is very bulky and not easy to compact in your average bin. It takes up a lot of space in the bin and in the landfill site.
In order to create Ecobricks and donate them – if you haven’t got a use for them yourself – then you need to go onto the website, register and log your bricks. They’ll issue you a serial number and they suggest writing it onto the bottle in marker pen, with your name and perhaps a message. There are hubs based around the country that will take in good quality Ecobricks and distribute them around various projects in the local community.
Take a look and see what you think – and maybe you can start creating your own Ecobricks too!